Still recovering

Yes, I have friends that can do a hell of a lot more running and walking than I can. But over the past few weeks:

23 September: walking marathon
29 September: 5K running race
6 October: 5K running race
7 October: half marathon walk (all out)

And that has left me a bit heavy legged. Even today, my 10 mile walk, while mostly pleasant, was work. Not hard work, but a modest amount of work and my legs got moderately heavy. That should not be after only 10 miles..hence I am still “recovering”>

College football:
My predictions:

Last week I picked ND, Texas, Purdue and Temple to win (4-0), ND, Illinois, Baylor and Temple to cover 1-2-1
So for the season: 19-7 straight up, 12-12-1 against the spread.

Now what about Illinois?

Ugh..that was embarrassing, and this post, more or less, describes what I am feeling.

Spin it any way you want. But the last 3 Big Ten home games ended: 42-7 (Northwestern), 63-24 (Penn State), 46-7 (Purdue)

This season, the defense gave up:

453 yards and 24 points to Kent State (1-6 Mac Team)
361 yards to 2-4 Western Illinois (FCS team that Illinois State beat 33-16)
626 yards to USF (ok, they are 6-0 but non power 5)
591 yards to Penn State (ok, they are good)
386 yards to Rutgers (1-6, horrible team that lost 42-13 to Buffalo and 55-14 to Kansas)
611 yards to Purdue (3-3) including 404 in the FIRST HALF.

And while the team had ran the ball well up to this game, Purdue loaded the box with 8 defenders and dared the Illini to throw. Then blitz on passing downs. Our offense has been well scouted and other teams now know what to do.

And our depth is shallow..this is a bad thing when you play in the Big Ten meat grinder. This may well get uglier.

Oh well…I am not sure if there IS an exit from this quicksand.

October 15, 2018 Posted by | college football, walking | | Leave a comment

Illini get steamrolled by Purdue 46-7

I’ll start with the positive (and yes, there is a positive). In Champaign, the Illinois AD leads a 4 mile pregame run.

Ok, I don’t live in Champaign and even if I did, a 9 minute a mile is now a “race effort” for me ..on a good day…when it is cool. But I did a nice 5.2 mile walk at an undetermined pace (15-16 minutes per mile?) on my own prior to leaving for the game.

Ok, here is the second positive: I still love watching football and I like seeing good execution. And one team executed well..though it wasn’t the team that I was cheering for.

Ok, positive number 3: I had a good lunch with my wife before I left.

Ok, positive number 4: decent crowd (by Illinois standards: almost 42K. That was the largest since last year’s Wisconsin game (which was also Homecoming). Ok, much of that came from Purdue fans and much of the Illinois crowd left at halftime, after the band performance.

Ok, positive number 5: the bands (current and alumni) were good!

Ok, ok, with that out of the way….

I’ll recall a conversation from the Penn State game a few weeks ago (which ended 63-24). Many Illini fans grasped the fact that the Illini held a lead 24-21 with 10 minutes to go in the 3’rd. Others (myself included) thought that the 42-0 finish by Penn State was more significant. I asked my wife: what is more significant about the Illinois football team: the start of the PSU game or the finish. She smiled and said “honey, the finish”.

It sure seems that she was right.

Ok, enough wit the set up.

What about the actual game? The score (46-7) and stats (total yards 611-250…Purdue had 404 yards AT THE HALF!) speak for themselves.

But…believe it or not, it started promising. The teams started by exchanging punts, then the Illini struck blood first with a very nice 77 yard touchdown drive, with most of the damage done by a 52 yard pass to a running back out of the backfield. It WAS a good throw too. 7-0 Illini, and I thought “the shoot out is on!” (I had predicted 31-24 Purdue).

It took Purdue just 5 plays to respond, almost all on passes…7-7.

Then came 2 Illinois 3 and out “drives” followed by Purdue touchdown drives (passes) and a blocked extra point: 20-7 Purdue.

Then came a “turning point” of sorts (ok, in a 46-7 game..well..)

The Illini put together their second (and final) good drive of the day, mostly due to a 30 and 24 yard pass play. First and goal at the Purdue 8 then a second goal at the Purdue 5. But then came a SIXTEEN YARD loss on a sack followed by a missed field goal attempt (38 yards; kicker has been pretty good for most of the year). That appeared to take whatever wind there was out of Illinois’ sails.

Then came a Purdue drive with a made field goal. Illinois punted..and with time running down, the Illini held Purdue on downs at the Illini 29. But Purdue had time outs and got the ball back with under a minute to go and 2 time outs. Two quick runs set up the ball at the Illini 42 and a “jump ball” in the end zone was won by the Purdue receiver. A very badly botched extra point kick attempt left the score at 29-7…and Purdue had 404 yards AT THE HALF.

Purdue got the ball at the start of the 3’rd quarter and two key penalties snuffed out any hope the Illini may have had.

An offside on a Purdue punt kept the drive alive…and another offside penalty negated an interception deep in Illini territory. No problem: PUrdue punches it in and it is now 36-7.

Purude did a lot of running in the 4’th quarter at it was good enough to set up a field goal then a final touchdown to make it 46-7.

It was this kind of day:

My shots:

Ok, not mine..but I am where the red arrow is.


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Alumni Band.

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Illini Band.

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Decent crowd but far from full:

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Purdue at Illinois early.

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Was it something I said? 😂

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Decent crowd.

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Good half time show:

Post halftime…people leaving:


October 14, 2018 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

A bit of college football

I drug Mat to a game where Illinois State hosted Western Illinois. And this game sort of reminded me of the Western Illinois at Illinois game. In the Champaign game, Western drove for a touchdown on their opening drive. The Illini took a 14-7 lead at the half and then lead 24-7 off of turnovers and a blocked punt. But it was 24-14 with Western driving into the 4’th quarter and ended 34-14. Total yards: 376 to 361, Illini.

The Illinois State vs. Western game: ended 33-16; here Western lead 13-12 at the half and 16-12 going into the 4’th..when ISU took it over, thanks to good field position and a pick 6.

Total yards: Western won that 277-270 though Illinois State had the edge in yards at the half.

Opening drive: Western touchdown (much of the damage by passing) but ISU blocked the PAT and ran it back for a 2 pointer. Then 2 nice drives lead to a touchdown and field goal to put ISU up 12-6. BUT…a great punt return set up WIU with a short field and then “bam/bam”..a touchdown pass right before half time sent WIU into the lead.

Second half: at first the defenses dominated (ISU, WIU, ISU punts). Then on the next drive, WIU hits a 71 yard pass…but a desperation dive by the ISU DB tripped the WIU receiver just enough to where he lost his balance at the ISU 8. A TD was called back on a holding call, so WIU has to kick the field goal to go up 16-12, which was their last score of the day.

4’th: teams exchanged 2 sets of punts; then the ISU ground game gets going and they drive for the go ahead touchdown: 19-16. A pick-6 scores another touchdown: 26-16.

So WIU tries to get back in the game but fails on 4’th and 14 on their own 25; ISU takes over and drives it in, aided by one pass, which lead to the final score of 33-16. Yes, WIU took time outs during that final drive; they weren’t going to give up being down by 10.

Note the clouds moving in.

The weather was nuts: overcast and chilly, warm and sunny, rainy (for 10-15 minutes), warm, chilly again. Perfect Illinois fall weather.

More games:

The Illini beat hapless Rutgers 38-17:

Of course, Rutgers lost to Kansas 55-14 and to Buffalo (a MAC team) at home 42-13. This time, total yards weren’t that far apart 419-386, though the Illini got 330 yards rushing.

I’ll know more after the Purdue game.

Personally, I think that the Illini will win once more this season: 1 game from Minnesota, Purdue, or Nebraska. Northwestern and Maryland (road) will be tough sledding…and IMHO, forget Iowa or Wisconsin.

Navy got trounced by Air Force 35-7. Navy will be lucky to scrape up 2 more wins this season. Just not our year and Army looks great.

ND rolled 45-23 over Virginia Tech; they look as if they have hit their stride and..should be favored in each of their remaining games. That doesn’t mean that they will win them all though.

Texas: wild finish; up 45-24…OU rallies to tie, Texas FG with 9 seconds to go to win. After a loss to Maryland and a scare by Tulsa, UT has defeated 4 quality opponents: USC, TCU, Kansas State (road) and OU. But challenges remain vs. West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech and the always tough Iowa State.

Predictions: I was 4-0 vs. the spread, and 3-1 straight up (missed the OU game).
Straight up: 15-7, spread: 11-10.

October 7, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

Kool aid drinking (how social media can deceive you)

I know that Illinois football is, well, not that important in the great scheme of things, but I am learning an interesting lesson.

This year I started to interact with Illinois Loyalty, The Champaign Room and Illini Football Breakdown on twitter. And so I started to get the feeling: “there is excitement about Illinois football again; maybe things are turning around!!! And yes, I follow Illinois Football on Instagram (and other social media platforms), etc.

But then..let’s look at some objective reality. Illinois went 2-10 last year, to the surprise of almost no neutral observers.

Attendance at the home games last year vs. this year:

Ball State: 41,923 Kent State: 31,898 (-10025)
W. Kentucky: 43,058 W. Illinois 39,252 (-3806) (both Sat. evening games)
Nebraska 43,058 Penn State: 34,704 (-8324) both Fri. evening games)

Then the Chicago Soldier Field game drew 21,725.

Attendance is DOWN by about 7000 per game! And keep in mind, last year’s Nebraska game was the best attended home game..that included home games against Wisconsin and Northwestern. My guess is that this year, Iowa will be the best attended game; don’t expect much from Purdue or Minnesota.

So, the hard core evidence is that interest in Illinois football as DROPPED quite a bit; the “excitement” or “interest” I might be seeing is that I’ve sought out and found other fanatics.

The interesting reality is that the casual observer may well have a more realistic idea of what is happening than the fanatic who is paying more attention.

Case in point: last week’s game vs. Penn State. The fanatics point to the Illini leading 24-21 in the 3’rd quarter as a sign of where we really are.
In fact, I saw a Penn State team that told itself: “ok, let’s wake up and put these guys away”, at which case they buried the Illini with a 42-0 finish. THAT, IMHO, showed the relative difference in the squads.

And so.. yes, this is just football. But I think the same principle applies to politics and work places…it is very easy to fall into group-think and ignore negative information.
But the difficulty of getting out of your bubble is that, well, it is almost no place to be that is NOT in a bubble. Leaving your bubble to get into another bubble really doesn’t help.

I am trying to remedy that by following the most “non-bubble” people I know; I might compile a list.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | social/political | | Leave a comment

The dam breaks: Penn State deluges Illinois 63-24

Last week, the Illini could not hang on and were outscored 18-0 in the 4’th quarter. This time, they were playing a better team (no. 10 Penn State). And this time, they were outscored 35-0. NOT a misprint. Yes, this did include two scores off of turn-overs and two garbage time touchdowns.

And last week, they gave up 626 yards of offense. This time, it was “only” 591 (387 ground, 204 pass).

BUT with all of this…the Illini were only down 21-17 at the half.

Yes, Penn State was moving the ball easily but Illinois had some drives of their own…and had two turn-overs.

Then in the 3’rd quarter the Illini took the opening drive (ok, and were helped by a roughing the passer call on a 3’rd down stop) and scored to go ahead! 10 minutes into the 3’rd quarter, an Illini team that had been knocked around up and down the field LEAD!

Then came a 42-0 avalanche consisting of long runs, passes, interception returns, etc.

How it went down

Penn State had no trouble driving the ball on its opening drive, but then fumbled deep in Illini territory after a caught pass. No problem; they got the ball back and had a snappy drive.

But the Illini actually have a credible ground game and used it; they tied the game at 7.

Then both teams missed field goals..and Penn State *appeared* to take control with two drives to go up 21-7 in the second.

But the Illini answered with another “play fast and run” drive…at we had a one score game!

With 37 seconds to go Penn State had the ball fairly deep in their own territory but elected to try to pass; it was intercepted! The Illini cashed in with a quick drive and field goal at it was only 21-17 at the half.

Then came the opening drive in the 3’rd quarter that had the (few) fans buzzing (only 34,700 tickets were sold in a 60,000 seat stadium)

Then came the avalanche.

First, Penn State answered with a long drive capped by a 48 yard touchdown run to take the lead for good. Then came another drive that bled into the 4’th quarter and it was now 35-24.

The Illini tried to rally but threw a flukey interception (ball batted upward by a falling receiver). Penn State struck quickly with a touchdown pass and it was now 42-24 and the rout was on.

A final credible attempt ended with a futile long FG attempt on 4’th and 11 (a make would have cut it to 2 touchdowns) and that lead to still another Penn State score (49-24), this time it was a 2 play drive, capped by a 61 yard run by the “other” good back.

Now it really got ugly. Illinois failed on a 4’th down giving Penn State a short field (at their own 46) and they promptly cashed in, with most of the damage coming on a 44 yard pass to the Illini 1 thrown by the backup quarterback. Note: the drive was extended by a blatant personal foul (hitting the receiver after the ball was well, well past him) on 3’rd down.


Then came an intercepted pass (thrown by the backup Illinois quarterback) that was run to the Illini 10; Penn State’s backups punched it in to make it 63-24.

Analysis Illinois fans (at least some) are desperately trying to hang on to the fact that the Illini lead in the 3’rd quarter, but I’ve seen that before. Example: in 1993, ND finished no. 2 in the nation. At half time, Navy lead Notre Dame 24-17. ND won 58-27. This was very similar.

What I saw was an Illinois team that has a decent running game, but is physically overmatched. Time again, the Illinois players were were they should be, but the Penn State player was just better.

Highlights and breakdown

Photo album

Breath taking views prior to the game (sunset)

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Another Grange Grove sunset.

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Barbara went with me this time.

Early action

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Underway in the first.

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Still only 7-0.

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Though it was not packed at the beginning,

But at 42-24 it really started to empty:

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42 to 24. Fans fleeing.

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Illinois football is hard on the stomach.

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Staff cleaning up vomit. 49 to 24.

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Fans gone but there was still one Penn State score to go.

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Empty. 56 to 24 3 minutes to go.

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College football notes
I ended up with egg on my face, with regards to predictions.
Navy lost 31-30 to an SMU team who had played a difficult schedule (a strong North Texas team, TCU and Michigan), Illinois failed to cover (though they looked good midway through the 4’th), Texas played well and whipped TCU 31-16, and ND blasted Wake Forrest 56-27. So I was 2-2 straight up, and 0-4 for the spread (11-5 straight up, 6-9 vs. the spread).

September 23, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

South Florida vs. Illinois in Chicago: barnburner.

I had made two predictions: 41-20, USF and 41-24. Basically, I expected the South Florida offense to roll over the Illini defense. And in total yards, it WAS 626-380, South Florida (215 rushing, 411 passing). But nevertheless, the Illini lead 16-7 at the half and 19-7 early in the 4’th quarter.

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Get off me! #ILLINI

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But games are 4 quarters long and in the 4’th, USF decided to go with the deep passing game and that did the trick. Still, they didn’t score the go ahead touchdown (and 2 point conversion) with 2:24 to go and even then, the Illini rallied to get to the 20 yard line and was throwing into the end zone as time expired.

Overall, it was a good effort from Illinois: on offense, the freshman quarterback managed the game well and, aside from one fumble on a hand off, didn’t do anything to get his team beat. The offensive line opened holes and the running backs found found them. (212 rushing yards; one RB over 100 and one just under).

The kicking game was outstanding; 4 times, the punter pinned USF at or inside their 20. The field goal kicker went 4-4, including a 41, 46 and 53 yard fg’s.

Defensively; the pass rush knocked down several passes and forced some motion penalties. Several times, USF drives stalled inside of Illini territory. And the defense got 2 interceptions.

BUT: our quarterback was sacked 5 times, and several times, a 3-4 man rush got to the passer.
And yes, they did have all of those yards; they had no trouble moving the ball..and two missed field goals kept the score down a bit.

I was delighted to see the Illini score on their second possession and take a 7-0 lead. USF answered with a drive of their own..but subsequently, the Illini played great “bend but don’t break” defense and got just enough out of the running game (and got an interception) to set up 3 field goals and a 16-7 halftime lead.

3’rd quarter: a bit like the first two; another field goal (which bounced in) set the Illini up for an exciting finish.

But then USF started to finish their drives; touchdown (set up on busted coverage), field goal to cut the lead to 19-17 and then the very long busted coverage touchdown.

Still the Illini got the ball back and mixed it up well, getting the ball to the 20. But a sack forced the Illini to use their final time out and the final pass was overthrown (well defended).

Still, it was an exciting game.

Socially About visiting Soldier field: do not be fooled by the road that runs right next to the L tracks. That road is a bus short cut; you can not get to Soldier field from there. Walk on Michigan Ave. instead. A nice McCormick employee gave us a ride to the pedestrian bridge.

About where we sat: we were in the United Club 200 section. I do not recommend row 19 seats in the United Club. Why? Most of the sight lines in Soldier field are excellent. But on row 19, there is just a small extra platform lifting your seat above the row in front of you; if someone tall sits there, you will have trouble seeing. Rows 1-18 are fine. Fortunately, we were able to move due to the very sparse crowd (21,700 in a 62,000 seat stadium).

And as far as the United Club: frankly, the 200 level sears are Media Deck seats, PLUS the privilege of being able to go inside. So if you (or your companion) do not value the privilege of being able to go inside during the game ..the Media Deck seats offer the same view for about half of the cost.

Sadly, there weren’t many there. Illinois recent history, plus many other events (Cubs game Saturday and Sunday, plus Northwestern had a game that evening, plus the Bears on Monday night) kept the crowd down to fewer than 22,000.

Highlight videos:

My photos:

We got there in time to make the lunch buffet at the Nepal House.

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Pregame lunch. Already saw some South Florida fans.

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Both sets of fans had events:

USF had some very shiny helmets.

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Shiny helmets II.

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The band:

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Go Illini!

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We were ready:

Early action..and a sparse crowd:

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Sparse crowd though.

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The Illini did move the ball well for the first half:

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Illini in the red zone again!

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Second quarter. 16-7 Illini at the half.

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Shady seats were popular:

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Shaded seats are popular.

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Had the game ended at 57 minutes, I would have been happier:

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25-19 bad guys. 1:44 to go.

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September 16, 2018 Posted by | college football, travel | | Leave a comment

Post I: college football and Peoria Chiefs baseball

Spectator sports has been a nice release from dwelling on stuff that I don’t like but really can’t change (social media, politics). I will talk about it some in a subsequent post though.

Peoria Chiefs Are in the finals! Game 1 and 2 are tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. The way this works in the Midwest League (low A): on even numbered years, the western champion hosts the first 2 games of the “best of 5”; it is just the opposite in even numbered years. The opponent: the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

I fear attendance won’t be great due to the fact that championship series are hard for fans to plan in advance and much of the draw for A league games is “outing” rather than baseball. And in the minor leagues: your playoff team will often not be your initial team. In Peoria’s case: the new players did struggle a bit at first..but there was a ton of talent. And now that talent is jelling so I like Peoria’s chances. But Bowling Green might be in a similar position (they are a Rays affiliate; Chiefs are a Cardinals affiliate).

In any event, these will be the last two games of a very fun season for me.

College Football I had a bad week of predictions last week:

Here is what I said:

Western Illinois at Illinois (spread: Illini by 8, ESPN: 73.8 % prob. for Illini)

WIU isn’t what they were last year and they are just off of a tough road loss. Illinois stinks and just lost their back up QB and best WR. And it could be played in heavy rain.

Nothing between a 3 point WIU win and an 11 point Illini win would surprise me. I’d go with: “similar to last week”; 27-20 Illini.

ND favored by 34.5 over Ball State. 99.1 % ND by ESPN. Why? ND could win 35-3 and not cover. Hard to tell. I’d say
“take ND and give the points” but maybe BSU gets a garbage time TD to cut the spread?

Memphis favored by 6.5 at Navy; ESPN 85.1 % for Memphis. Pains me to say it, but Navy’s defense is suspect. Mids will have to control the ball to keep it close. I am afraid that the Mids lose a shoot out like last week.

Texas favored by 23 over Tulsa: Texas 92% on ESPN. Tulsa beat an FCS program (a good one) by 11 last week; UT lost to a Big Ten team. I think that UT wins..but by how much? TU is better than San Jose State last year (who UT blew out).

Win: Illini, ND, Memphis, UT
Cover: WIU, ND, Memphis, Tulsa.

Last week: 3-1 vs. the spread, 2-2 straight up.

Ironic: the most competitive game of the 4 is..the Illinois vs. Western Illinois. Kind of sad..really.

So, how did I do? Straight up, I got 3 of 4 (Illini, ND, Texas). Spread: 1-3 (only Tulsa was right), though I was DELIGHTED to get the Navy game wrong. The Mids really came through.

So for the season:
Straight up: 5-3 (missed the Navy game both times, once in each direction, and the UT vs. MD game). Spread: 4-4 (which is what one would expect) I missed Navy twice, Illinois once, ND once.

I am really no better than a coin toss. 🙂

So what about this week? Yes, I am going to the Illinois vs. South Florida game in Chicago.

South Florida – 10 at Illinois (Chicago). This is a mismatch from the ESPN power index which gives USF a 65.7 percent chance. Last year: USF was a 16.5 point favorite and won 47-23, covering easily.
Personally, I think that Illinois MIGHT be getting too much credit, being a Big Ten team and USF being an AAC team (non-power 5, technically).

BUT, in their first game, USF cruised 34-14 over Elon (no. 12 in the FCS); they lead 31-0 midway through the 3’rd. So while Illinois also beat an FCS team 34-14, it was 24-14 going into the 4’th with Western Illinois driving. Illini scored on a punt block, set up a TD on an “almost pick 6” (to the 3) and another field goal via a fumble. USF vs. Elon: total yards were 515-234. In the Illinois vs. Western, it was 376-361.

The other game: USF beat a tough Georgia Tech team 49-38 whereas Illinois escaped a terrible Kent State team 31-24, with total yards being 469-453.

Even more worrisome is that USF’s receiving corps is outstanding and the Illini secondary is suspect.

I am excited about the game, but, objectively, well, 41-20 USF looks about right to me, UNLESS they are overconfident. And yes, way back in 2013, Illinois demolished a decent Cincinnati team 45-17 on its way to a 4-8 record. But that team had more offensive punch than this one and a more established quarterback.

So, I have to pick USF to win and cover.

Vanderbilt + 14.5 at ND: ESPN gives ND an 88.8 percent chance of winning. Both teams are 2-0 with ND beating Michigan 24-17 and stopping Ball State 24-16. Vanderbilt rolled over Middle Tennessee 35-7 (MTSU was a bowl team last year..Sun Belt) and Nevada 41-10 (they were bad last year). This might be hard; ND is a step up in competition for Vanderbilt and so ND should win. But Vanderbilt is an SEC team that might well be bowl bound..this game might be competitive.

I pick ND to win but Vanderbilt to cover the wide spread. They are NOT that bad.

Lehigh at Navy: (no line; Navy 96.8 percent) Leigh is a so-so FCS team who had a narrow win over a 5-6 FCS team (St. Francis) in the opener and was dominated by Villanova in their second game. Navy is coming off of an emotional win over Memphis but has too much talent for Lehigh, I think. I see a comfortable Navy win.

USC + 3.5 at Texas (ESPN: 55.9 percent for Texas) Texas lost at Maryland and beat Tulsa, narrowly. USC was dominated by Stanford 17-3 but beat UNLV easily (43-21). This is a big game at Texas with tickets being priced at over 80 dollars (per Vivid Seats). But how will that work; Texas has been very average against bad to so-so teams and USC did get a team that is much better than Texas.

Ugh.toss up. Will pressure to beat an average team with a big name get to UT? I am really unsure.

Let’s say Texas wins by 4? But I wouldn’t bet a penny on this game, either way.

Note: this is BRUTAL.

Yes, TCU is a 13 point underdog and ESPN gives OSU an 86.6 percent chance. BUT…who knows…TCU might pull off the upset. I still remember the Iowa game and TCU is a lot better than Iowa.

My picks: straight up: USF, ND, Navy, Texas (very reluctantly). Cover: USF, Vanderbilt, (no line for Navy), Texas

Workout notes: yesterday, weights and a 2 mile run in 19:38 (5.2 for 3 minutes, upped it then at 10 minutes, 6.7 up to 7.0) weights: different order: pull ups (15-15-10-10), military (10 x 50, 10 x 50, 10 x 45 standing), bench: 2 sets of 10 x 70 dumbbell, incline: 9 x 135 (ran out of gas), decline: 5 x 165 (fatigued), rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110, plank: 2:30 (easy), boat, side plank, twist

today: 3 mile walk in 38:30; 5K in 39:40 prior to fasting blood work.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | baseball, college football, running, walking, weight training | , | 1 Comment

Last long and Illini special teams

Today’s Illinois football game was set for 6:30 pm and so I walked longish in the morning.

I wore long sleeves (2 shirts) though it wasn’t cold; I modified the first part of Boredem by taking the bike path back from Bishop hill. I also had a spur in lower Glenn Oak park (to get 18) and then did some wide swings to avoid traffic on the way back. I did slow some toward the end.

I saw deer, a squirrel with a mouse (yes, squirrels will sometimes eat mice) and a riverboat.

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Not the best focused photo. But I had company.

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On my 30 km training walk.

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Then, after Indian food, it was onward to Champaign, where the promised monsoon conditions did not materialize (yes, I was comfortable with a sweatshirt and vest).

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Storm clouds in Champaign.

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12 min. to kickoff. 3 in 1.

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Here is some early action:

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Early action. 7 to 0 Leathernecks.

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And, as usual, though it was 14-7 at the half, Illini “fans” left and by the end of the (very long) game, the place was all but empty.

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27 to 14. Fans have left. About to be 34 to 14

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The game itself:

It ended 34-14 but the first quarter didn’t go well, at all. Western got the opening kickoff and drove it..easily. 7-0; total yards were totally dominated by them.

But some key things happened in the second quarter. First, the starting Illinois quarterback got hurt and a freshman went in and played reasonably well.

But the real key came after a stopped drive: the Illini pulled off a pooch punt off of a fake field goal. That set up a short field (after the defense got a stop) and the Illini drove for a 45 yard touchdown drive which appeared to switch momentum. Another drive put the Illini up 14-7 at the half.

3’rd quarter: running set up a field goal and a 17-7 lead. Then came another exchange of punts which pinned Western Deep. Blocked punt! That made it 24-7.

But then Western’s passing game lead to a 75 yard drive to make it 24-14 going into the 4’th quarter.

Western was threatening and inside the Illni 20 when a hard, but clean hit after a catch caused a fumble which not only stopped a scoring drive but lead to a field goal and a 27-14 lead.

Then WIU threw into triple coverage which lead to an “almost pick 6” (down to the 3) when the Illini punched it in.

More desperate passes lead to yardage, but another interception.

Total yards: only 376 to 361 (Illini had 238 rushing and continually made good yardage off of an off tackle play). But the Illini will struggle against USF and against Big Ten competition.

We may have seen our final win of the year, though 1-2 more wins is POSSIBLE.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | 1 Comment

Seeing 1/3 to 1/2 of Illinois wins today

Kent State was ranked near the bottom of the MAC. Today: they gained 450 yards (ok, gave up 463) and converted 3 of 5 4’th down plays. They lead 17-3 at the half, were tied 24-24 going into the 4’th and had it first and goal with 2:21 to the Illini 5 and down 31-24. I really had no clue as to who would win the game until that last stop.

Key plays: special teams mistakes by the Illinois kick returners (stepping out of bounds inside the 5 yard line…TWICE). But the game changer came during Kent’s first second half drive when the defense got a tip-drill interception. The offense converted with a touchdown drive; Illinois ran the ball well in the second half.

The on the next drive, the Illini stopped a 4’th down conversion attempt. Then in the 4’th quarter, the Illini took the lead, only to have Kent march it down to the 5 with 2:20 left. But the defense stiffened and saved the day.

My take: I did not see much of a talent difference between the two squads which bodes poorly for us. I see 1-2 more wins, at best.

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New practice facility on its way up.

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The boys in Champaign. Go Illini!

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16 minutes to kick off. Illini band.

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3rd and goal. Illini up 31-24 but Kent at the 5.

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September 2, 2018 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

With all that is going on: college football…

Before I forget: 5 mile run (treadmill), 1 mile walk (5.8 on the mill, .25 track. run: 5.1-5.6 Froggy to 30 minutes, then 6.1-6.2 to 40, 6.7-6.8 to 51:21. 11:30, 22:30, 42:27, 51:21. It felt better than expected.

Yep, college football starts this weekend and the Chiefs have playoff baseball next week…and they have to win 2 of 3 vs. Quad Cities to get to the next round.

For the season:

Illinois: talent level is still too low to win many games in the Big Ten. Maybe 1 or 2 conference wins this year; the ESPN power index has the Illini as underdogs in all of their Big Ten games plus the USF game, but the expected number of wins is 3.9. I see 3 victories.

Texas: I think is overrated. Period. The ESPN power index gives 8.45 as the expected number of wins, though the Longhorns are favored in 10 of their games, including in home games vs. TCU and USC. I flat do not see it; I see a season much like the previous 4: 6-6.

Navy: tough schedule; can the team hold up over 13 games? ESPN index gives 6.66 wins with the Mids favored in 7 of them. But 7 games total are between .4 and .6 (toss ups). Will not be boring. I see 8 wins and 5 losses (13 games)

ND: the ESPN power index LOOOVES ND: they are favored in every game and a 90 percent favorite in 5 of them, 80 or more in 7, and 70 percent or better in 10. The two closest: .681 against Michigan and .591 vs. USC on the road. The expected number: 9.94 victories. But this high expectation might well be from so many big name teams (Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Florida State, USC) not being up to snuff. This could well be a year they make the playoff or a Big Bowl and end up getting blown out by a more deserving team (e. g. the Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State after the 2015 season). Still, I see 10-2.

The games I have tickets for: all Illinois home games, USF at Illinois in Chicago, Western Illinois at Illinois State, NFL: Bills at Colts, Dolphins at Colts, Rams at Bears.

Considering: South Dakota State at Illinois State (FCS), one more Bears game: either Jets, Lions, or Packers, and one (or two) more Colts game: Cowboys and/or Giants. Last year I made 4 Bears and 1 Colts; this year it might be 2-3 or 1-4.

This is how I see it this week. I’ll see how well I do in my predictions. This is my FB post:

College football this weekend: (the teams that matter most TO ME…feel free to either discuss these games OR talk about the games that are most meaningful to you.

Kent State +16.5 at Illinois: Illinois is at the bottom of the Big Ten; Kent is at the bottom of the Mac. Advantage: Illinois. If they lose this one, they should just forfeit the rest of the games. But should the Illini be 16.5 point favorites against ANYONE? Last year they scraped by Ball State 24-21 on a blocked field goal attempt. ESPN has Illinois as a 94 percent favorite. Note: “get in price” is 2 dollars a ticket

Texas -13.5 at Maryland (Fed Ex field). Last year, Maryland lit up UT in Austin. Revenge? How has the scandal affected Maryland? The talent difference might not be as extreme as people think. ESPN has Texas as an 80 percent favorite. Get in price: 18 dollars a ticket.

Michigan + 1 at ND. Personally: I do not “get” why Michigan is getting so much love; they really haven’t been that good lately. It isn’t that I think that ND is overwhelming. ESPN has ND as a 68 percent favorite. Note: get in price is 330 dollars a ticket.

Navy -12 at Hawaii. Hawaii does have a 43-34 win at Colorado state under its belt. But the Navy coach is good at keeping his team high. ESPN has Navy as a 72 percent favorite. 26 dollars gets you into this one..provided you can get to Hawaii.

Straight up: Illinois, Texas, ND, Navy.
Spread: Kent, MD, ND, Navy.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | college football, football, NFL, running | | Leave a comment