Minnesota 40 Illinois 17: Illini Defense deserved better

Let me make this clear: The Gophers do have a better team this year and clearly deserved to win this game. No argument about that from me.

But when one sees “Minnesota 40”, I can’t blame someone from thinking “oh, another putrid performance by the Illini defense.” And yes, the Gophers did run for 171 yards, but they only had 283 total yards.

Just look at the length of their scoring drives:

9 yards, touchdown (the Illini fumbled in the backfield with no one around them on their first play from scrimmage; it appeared to be a botched hand off…no defender in the backfield).

20 yards, touchdown (the Illini fumbled a punt; the Gophers scored on the first play)

49 yards, touchdown (short punt from the Illini after a 3 and out)

70 yards, touchdown (ok, that one is on the defense)


5 yards, field goal (sack and strip by the Gopher defense)

10 yards, touchdown (Illini turn it over on downs at their own 10)

26 points came by the defense or on drives of 20 yards or less! The Illni defense did not play that poorly.

The problem, this game, was the mistakes, 2 which were unforced and one was a coach’s decision late in the game.

Still, it was 21-14 going into the 4’th quarter and the offense, for all of their miscues, did put together two nifty drives; they especially looked good on their first touchdown drive. The line opened big holes and the true freshman quarterback hit a great play action pass to put them in scoring position.

Overall, it was the mistakes, and I think that part of it is that the Illini are simply too thin to absorb injury losses.

There is a video of the highlights at the end.

But here is what I really want to talk about:

With 5 minutes to go, Illinois had kicked a field goal (healthy 53 yard kick too) to cut the lead from 33-14 to 33-17; it is now a “two touchdown with two 2-point conversions” game. An onside kick failed, but the Gophers attempt to run out the clock (back up quarterback) and the Illini use their time outs to get the ball back at their own 10.

They go nowhere and with 4:38 to go, it is 4’th and 10 at the Illini 10.

I thought that they might punt; instead they go for it and fail. 2 plays later, the Gophers score again to push it to 40-17, which is how it ends.

I really hoped that they would punt but I suppose Coach Smith decided to gamble for the win, even though it was a long shot.

Was that the right call?

I remember the Texas vs. Oklahoma game in 1985. There was just over a minute left in the game and Texas was down 14-7. Texas was deep in their own territory and it was 4’th and long. Texas punted to keep the score down.

Now, that game WAS different; Texas was to finish 8-4 (bowl loss) and Oklahoma 11-1 (national championship). Oklahoma smothered Texas that day; Texas had 70 yards of offense….TOTAL. TOTAL; not a misprint. And in this game, Illinois did have three scoring drives; they did move the ball well at times.

Still, I winced at the final score; the Illini defense played better than that.


Here are a couple of my photos. Note: the announced crowd was 40,000; some arrived late due to tailgating. It was homecoming weekend. My good friend Tracy went with me and it was a lot of fun; she is great company.









October 30, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | , | Leave a comment

Purdue 34, Illinois 31. I am a terrible fan.

I’ve had season tickets since the 2011 season (via the university since the 2012 season). I’ll renew next year…even though the Illini will be very fortunate to win 1 or 2 more games the rest of the year. Why? I love the games, and though the Illini lost to Purdue 34-31, the game was a thriller. I wish that the Illini had won and been celebrating with their fans and band, but the game had me on the edge of my seat the whole way.

My summary: yes, you can talk about the missed field goal at the end of regulation. But the kicker made 3 of 4, including some tough kicks. You can talk about the fumble in overtime, but the player who did that also made some spectacular runs and lead his team to 25 of its 31 points. The kicking and offense was fine. The team simply could not stop Purdue and made some “loss of cool” penalties that made Purdue’s field shorter.


Total yards were pretty even: 499 to 459, and Illinois ran for 315 yards, Purdue for 231. But ultimately, when a team gains almost 500 yards and scores 31 points, they should win.

Illinois moved swiftly to the Purdue 5 (mostly running) and had second and goal at the 1.


But the Purdue defense played good goal line defense and forced a field goal attempt, which was good.

The troubles began when the Illini could not stop the Purdue ground game. It was 7-6 soon after the end of first quarter on a long field goal. The Illini starting quarterback was hurt on a late hit, but the backup ran for 137 yards and hit a few key passes. IN THIS GAME, the offense was more effective with the back up in the game.


A flanker screen by Purdue made the score 14-6 but the Illini marched right back to cut it to 14-13. But then Purdue got the ball back, and you know the drill by now. A long field goal by Illinois made the score 21-16 at the half.

The third quarter saw a Purdue field goal and then the Illni scoring on an 88 yard drive; the key play was a spectacular “catch off of a tip”. So it was 24-23 Boilers going into the final quarter. A balanced 70 plus yard drive capped by a 2 point conversion put the Illni up 31-24, but you know the drill. Purdue marched right back to tie the game…

Then when the Illini were forced to punt late in the game, Purdue started a drive with about 1:20 left and 3 time outs. But with about 50 seconds to go, INTERCEPTION off of a tip! The Illini were at their own 41 with times outs to burn.

And they got it down to the Purdue 24 with 9 seconds to go…and 2 time outs left. But they were on the left hash mark. The Illini elected to run down the clock to 3 seconds and to kick rather than risk running a play to the center of the field.

The kick: off of the right upright. Overtime.

Illini start, make a first down…then fumble.

Purdue gets the ball, drives it to about the 10 and then run a play to the center of the field.


The kick was good. Purdue wins. Still one hell of a game though.

Highlight videos (and there a lot of them)

My photos:


Last minute action.


The winning kick.


Student section.


Pregame fight song; the band has bock “I” in Il I ni.

October 9, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | | 1 Comment

Fall Break 2016….


Workout: easy 5.3 mile walk in 1:22 (15:16 pace for the dark, hilly course). I’ve come to accept the fact that I am no longer a fast walker. For me, 15:xx is now a “deliberate” pace, the way that 13:xx once was.

But I can still walk, and I enjoyed seeing the bunnies and dark squirrels (some are labrador black). And it is fall break and I’ve got a football game tomorrow (Illinois vs. Purdue).

Note: over the last 4 meetings, the visiting team has won each time. The last time Purdue was here…well watch from 7:30 to 10:30, IF you have a strong stomach.

Still, the Illini are favored by 11 and should be able to win..but I said that 2 years ago.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, walking | | Leave a comment

Chief Illiniwek, Illinois football fans and Donald Trump

I’ve followed Illinois football closely for a few years, and I’ve had season tickets since the 2011 season. Yes, there are still a few Illinois Football fans. And you should read some of them discuss the reasons for the football woes: “they need to bring back DA CHIEF”!!! “We’ve gone downhill since they got rid of DA CHIEF”, etc.

For the unfamiliar, “DA CHIEF” is Chief Illiniwek, a student who was dressed up in a “Indian outfit” and danced at football and basketball games. It was retired after the 2006 football season (in February 2007) under pressure from civil rights groups. Frankly, I am glad that they retried it.

But let this sink in: the football team is not playing well because there is no “dancing Indian” mascot? Huh? I never knew that it blocked and tackled…I never new that top football recruits said: “well, I was going to choose Illinois but with that mascot gone, I’m going to Ohio State instead.”

But maybe there is something to it? Let’s look at the football records in the 10 years prior to “DA CHIEF” and afterward:

Before: 0-11, 3-8, 8-4, 5-6, 10-2, 5-7, 1-11, 3-8, 2-9, 2-10. (2 winning seasons) (39-76, .339 winning percentage)
After retirement: 9-4, 5-7, 3-9, 7-6, 7-6, 2-10, 4-8, 6-7, 5-7, 1-2 (current) (3 winning seasons) (49-66, .426 winning percentage)

Yeah, football isn’t doing great right now, but it is actually doing better (technically; adding the 12’th game allowed them to schedule an extra team that they could beat) after retirement…seriously. The perception that fans have is flat out false.

And I think it is this mentality that is helping Trump to do as well as he is doing. People pine for some past period in US history that, well, probably didn’t exist. Sure, maybe you didn’t have to “press 1 for English” and the local food court didn’t offer Thai food or tacos. But seriously folks, is electing someone who is grossly unqualified for office help with our current problems? Do you think that we really had an age in our history where we didn’t have at least as many problems as we do now?

September 18, 2016 Posted by | college football, politics, politics/social | , | 1 Comment

Running: my 5K run (Hilltop 5K) and Western Michigan’s run over Illinois

My time for the “5K” (actually, about 3 miles): 25:58. This equates to about a 26:50 5K or so. I was ok with it though perhaps I finished with slightly too much left?


Yes, it was 41 seconds FASTER than last year; that is a good thing.

That gave me time to eat lunch with Barbara…who got sick and didn’t make the trip to Champaign with me. But I did..and didn’t get sick until I watched the Illini play. Yes, I wore my snazzy Lovie Smith t-shirt.


Final: Western Michigan 34, Illinois 17. Key stat: rushing yards: 287 to 3, Western Michigan. Total yards: 437 to 315.


Yes, the first quarter was back and forth, with Illinois getting the better of it, but failing to finish drives. Then WMU hit a long pass to set up a touchdown run; 7-0. Running set up the second score, which featured a 36 yard touchdown run.

Illinois came up empty on drives (total yards were still close at this point). Illinois was pinned deep…and then dropped back to pass. The quarterback was hit while throwing and it sure LOOKED to me that his arm was moving forward when the ball came out. But it was ruled a fumble on the field, and WMU cashed in. It was now 21-0.

WMU drove again, but Illinois blocked a field goal. Was this a momentum change?

But some razzle-dazzle helped: Illinois executed a flea-flicker off of a double reverse and the tight end was wide open for a 56 yard touchdown. I thought that momentum had shifted, but WMU drove and kicked a field goal. So it was 24-7 at the half.

Second half: Illinois opens with a drive but on 3’rd and goal, an Illinois receiver went high for a ball thereby knocking it away from a wide open receiver right behind him! So the Illini get a a field goal and it was 24-10.

WMU got the field goal back (mostly on running) and it was 27-10 going into the 4’th.

My view of the action:



WMU kept it on the ground in the 4’th: why do anything else? Long drive for a TD and an interception sealed it. Needless to say, the fan base was skeptical:


The game ended with WMU actually passing up an opportunity for a final score toward the end; the visiting MAC team was showing compassion to the outmatched Big Ten team! But, they ARE a lot better right now.

September 18, 2016 Posted by | college football, running | , | 2 Comments

Illinois overwhelmed by UNC 48-23

Yes, the stadium was sold out and there was a lot of energy there:




And the start couldn’t have been more promising. On the 3’rd play from scrimmage, the Illni broke a 65 yard touchdown run to lead 7-0.

North Carolina responded with a drive of their own to tie it at 7.

Then the UNC defense adjusted, but UNC fumbled a punt, which Illinois recovered at the 30; and they took it in. UNC got a drive to cut the lead to 14-10 and then Illinois lost a fumble (quarterback dropped the ball); UNC took it in and it was 17-14 at the first quarter.

UNC mostly dominated play in the second quarter getting another touchdown. But a great punt pinned UNC deep (2 yard line) and the star Illini defensive end tackled their running back in the send zone for a safety.


Illinois couldn’t convert the good field position after the free kick. UNC had one final drive which lead to the ball at the Illinois 2 with 2 seconds to go They passed up a field goal, but the pass was broken up! So it was 24-16 at the half.

Third quarter: UNC missed a field goal, but scored on a subsequent drive to take a 31-16 lead going into the 4’th. Illinois converted some 4’th downs in cutting the lead to 31-23…but, as they always did, UNC responded with a drive of their own.

A drive deep into the UNC red zone came up empty with another botched hand off (one of several) on 4’th down, and a long TD run put UNC up 45-23. A field goal ended the action.

UNC rolled up 462 yards of total offense getting 197 on the ground, while limiting Illinois to 309. A couple of unsportsmanlike penalties and botched exchanges (hand offs, snaps) hurt as well. But the bottom line is that UNC simply had quicker players.




I’ve watched a few Illinois State games (they are FCS), including last year’s playoff loss to Richmond. They went to Northwestern and won! The winner came with a field goal as time expired.

(note: Illinois State gets so little respect, the title is “Ball State”, which is a MAC (FBS) team).

Navy won a wild 28-24 game over Connecticut; in this game there were fumble returns for touchdowns. But the key came at the end with 17 seconds to go and UCONN with no time outs and at the Navy 2. They ran a running play, got stuffed but had no plan to get another play off.

Arkansas vs. TCU was a wild one. Arkansas lead 20-7 in the 4’th only to see TCU take a 28-20 lead. Arkansas rallied to make it 28-26 with just over a minute left and made the 2 point conversion to tie it.
The Frogs drove it and tried a 28 yard field goal at the end of the game: BLOCKED.

Arkansas won it in the second overtime.

September 11, 2016 Posted by | college football, football, Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Illinois loves Lovie (for now…)

Ok, the wait is over and almost 49,000 people showed up to watch Illinois play Murray State. Yes, this is an unusually large crowd for Illinois vs. an FCS team, especially a team not from Illinois.


Yes, a friend trolled me and I couldn’t resist using the retouched selfie. I changed my seats to move to the 30 yard line:


Note the almost full lower deck. That is unusual for us; this was more typical:


The game turned out 52-3, which was the score of last year’s opener against Kent State.

Murray State got the ball first and promptly threw an interception (the quarterback was sacked 6 times and had no time to throw). Illinois got the ball at the 30 and scored. Next possession: a longer interception, and Illinois cashed in with a bomb play to go up 14-0 early.

Illinois also got a short field on a bad punt and took advantage, and then broke a pair of 56 yard touchdown runs. Murray State had one drive for a missed field goal and made one.

illmurrarystate The starters added one more touchdown in the 3’rd quarter to make it 42-3 at which point the reserves took over. The second team offense drove for 10 more points (including a 48 yard field goal in the 4’th quarter; they wanted to give the kicker some game action. Later, the 3’rd team quarterback got to play a bit.

So it is hard to say much. The team DID look more disciplined than before, but this was a physical mismatch. Ranked North Carolina comes to town next Saturday, and then Western Michigan, who is picked to win the MAC and who beat Northwestern, follows.

What I project: between 1-3 more home wins (favor the Illini against Purdue; Minnesota and Western Michigan are toss-ups), and a possible road win (Rutgers, MAYBE Northwestem). Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin (road), North Carolina, Iowa and Michigan State at home: OUCH.

September 4, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

Ok, for the important stuff: Illinois Football for 2016

I got news that my Illinois football tickets are on the way. I get 7 home games. Now how well will Illinois do?

Last year, they went 5-7 despite the turmoil of their coach getting fired soon before their season opener.

Then again, their wins came by way of a bad, sleep deprived MAC team, a weak FCS team, and two games in which the visiting team flat out blew the game (Nebraska: poor time management with the lead and Middle Tennessee: missed 41 yard field goal as time expired). Yes, there was an easy win over Purdue.

But realistically, they could have well been 3-9 last season.

This year, they get Lovie Smith as coach. BUT, the personnel is more or less the same, and the schedule is tougher, with 9 Big Ten games (instead of 8), and a “favorite for the MAC title” team on the schedule instead of a “bottom tier” MAC team. So I am seeing predictions ranging from 3 wins to 5 wins.

So, this is how I see it:

Sept. 3 Murray State (all but certain win; bad FCS team)
Sept. 10 North Carolina (likely loss; last year it was 48-14)
Sept. 17 Western Michigan (toss up; WMU is a favorite in the MAC, but a Big Ten team should win this game)
Sept. 24 OPEN DATE
Oct. 1 at Nebraska (likely loss)
Oct. 8 Purdue (likely win)
Oct. 15 at Rutgers (toss up)
Oct. 22 at Michigan (almost certain loss)
Oct. 29 Minnesota (toss up)
Nov. 5 Michigan State (almost certain loss)
Nov. 12 at Wisconsin (almost certain loss)
Nov. 19 Iowa (almost certain loss)
Nov. 26 at Northwestern (likely loss)

So I see:

1 all but certain win (.95 probability of winning)
1 likely win (.7 probability of winning)
3 toss ups (.5 probability of winning)
3 likely losses (.3 probability of winning)
4 almost certain losses (.1 probability of winning)

This gives 4.45 wins by my model.

So, here is my “fan’s wishful thinking model”: win the 2 games that they should, win 2 of the 3 toss ups and win one upset victory which means 5 wins.

But ….win ALL toss ups OR score 2 upsets and get 6 wins.

August 1, 2016 Posted by | college football, football | | Leave a comment

Watching live sports: makes me know less about them (in a way)

I filled out a NCAA men’s basketball bracket this year; and I ended up with exactly one team in the final four. My results were terrible!

What is going on: if you scroll through my blog you can see that I watched Bradley; I have season tickets for both the men’s and women’s teams and I make games faithfully. So I got interested in this team. When I did watch a game on television or on ESPN3, it was usually a Bradley road game OR another Missouri Valley Conference game. So I knew that Wichita State sometimes fades in the conference tournament and that Evansville and Northern Iowa were hot going into MVC play.

BUT: though the MVC did win its first round games (and the play-in game), the MVC is not a national powerhouse conference. So I knew next to nothing about the ACC, Pac-10, Big-12, and even the Big-10 (though I knew that Illinois was struggling). So when it came time to fill out a bracket, I mostly went by “higher seed”, with poor results.

The true basketball fan probably watched a variety of games from the power conferences and knew much more than I did.

Something similar happens with football: I have season tickets for the University of Illinois. But an Illinois game means a 90 minute drive there, game, 90 minute drive back. A real football fan watches two games during that stretch. Then when I watch a game on TV, it is usually the Illinois road game or another Big Ten game; again, I know very little about what is going on in the SEC, Pac 10 or other conference (I sometimes catch the Texas, Notre Dame and Navy game). So I might know a little more about NCAA football as there are fewer teams to keep track of, I know less about the game overall than I did before I started to watch football in person.

Something similar happened with me during my NFL game binge last year.

March 30, 2016 Posted by | basketball, football, NFL | , | Leave a comment

Michigan and Mississippi primaries today (and other topics)

Workout notes Too pretty to run inside, so I did my hilly 8.1 Cornstalk course. I didn’t time myself, but I did leave at 7:15 and finished at 8:43 and didn’t cough that much afterward. Wonderful run, even if it was too damned slow.

Illinois Football: I am seeking to upgrade my season tickets; I’ll know in a month if I can. There may be more renewals due to the hiring of a new, high profile coach.

Personal I don’t know where this comes from, but when I feel that I’ve been wronged, I feel “unfulfilled” if I haven’t told the other party off, or told them off in a vigorous enough manner. That is, of course, counterproductive and illogical.

Personal Dammit, I miss “my girls”!

Mathematics/Statistics: Here is what a p-value means: a p-value is the probability that one would observe the given observed data, IF the null hypothesis were true. Example: Suppose you assumed that a coin was fair and that the probability of obtaining a head on a single toss is .5. So if one tossed a coin 10 times and obtained 8 heads, the probability of obtaining 8 more more heads, given that the coin was fair, is 0.0546875. THAT is the definition of p-value. Too many do not understand this.

Primaries: according to, Hillary Clinton has a 99 percent chance of winning the Michigan and of winning the Mississippi primaries. Trump has a 92 percent chance of winning Michigan today.

As far as the odds for the general election:


So Hillary Clinton’s odds are better than they’ve ever been, though Sanders’ odds of being the nominee scooted from being a 14-1 underdog to a 12-1? That is curious.

And noted that Hillary Clinton is running “close” to President Obama. Here is why:

8marchpresidents Right now President Obama is at 49 percent approval in the Gallup and is riding slightly above the historical trend, and well, well above where President Bush was at this time in his presidency. Oh, don’t worry; your favorite ranting right wing uncle won’t believe it. 🙂

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Barack Obama, politics, politics/social, running | , , , , , | Leave a comment