Nebraska football fans suffered mightily last season, but the football gods seem to be rewarding their indefatigable faith this season. Yes, Husker fans had their heart ripped out on numerous occasions last season, but they still went to a bowl game and finished with a record that can be classified as mediocre.
Try being a PART OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL IN THE CHICAGO REGION!!!!!Follow paulmbanks
At no previous point during his Illini football career has quarterback Wes Lunt looked as “off” as he’s looked in 2016.
The home loss to North Carolina may have been the poorest game of his collegiate career. The following week against Western Michigan, the only time he led the offense to the end zone, against a very mediocre MAC defense, was via a goofy gadget play.
While Lunt is a great kid off the field, with big plans for life after football, he’s just not performing up to expectations.Follow paulmbanks
In The Great Gatsby, narrator Nick Carraway describes the main character, Jay Gatbsy, early on in the story as possessing “a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”
Sub “romantic readiness” for “obsession with full back screen passes” and you have football coach Ron Turner.
Make that now on-the-market football coach Ron Turner.Follow paulmbanks
Rick Neuheisel somehow already knew where we were going with our question. We didn’t need to mention the infamous urban legend, because he brought it up first, without being unprompted. Kudos to the former UCLA quarterback and current CBS Sports College Football Analyst for knowing exactly what we were truly asking about.
You’ve heard the narrative:
“the 1983 Illini, 10-1 and ranked #5, heavily favored over an unranked 6-4-1 UCLA team, partied too hard at the Playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner the night before the 1984 Rose Bowl, and that’s why the team was obliterated 45-9 by the underdog Bruins.”Follow paulmbanks
This legendary Playboy mansion tale we’re about to re-examine again is either a.) the worst kept secret in Illini football history or
b.) the biggest lie ever told in the history of the program
This “urban legend” from 32 years ago is the perfect topic of discussion for a bye week, and especially during a bye week of a season that looks and feels rather gloomy. If you want a brutally honest assessment of what’s ahead this year, and the dark times in store for 2017, I suggest you check out this offering from the Champaign Room; SB Nation’s Illini community.Follow paulmbanks
One year ago at this time, who would have thought that a member of the 2015 Illinois Fighting Illini would become a starter on a NFL team in 2016?
Yes, Defensive End Jihad Ward was a second round pick by the Oakland Raiders out of Illinois this past April. He’s started the first two games this year at end for the silver and black.
He deems himself an “Illini for life” too.Follow paulmbanks
In 2016, Illini football has returned to relevance. The buzz is back. As Saturday night’s sellout crowd of 60,670 attests, the days of Illinois Football @EmptySeatPics are gone too. It was the first sellout at Memorial Stadium since November 12th, 2011. The atmosphere was electric. The crowd was jacked.
The game was interesting….for three quarters. Interest and enthusiasm for the team has returned. The team itself has a ways to go. It will be very interesting to see how they respond here; especially given the fact they are slight underdogs to a Group of 5 team.Follow paulmbanks
Illini football Coach Lovie Smith has repeatedly emphasized what he feels is the most important aspect of defense is- forcing turnovers, converting them into points. When he head coach of the Chicago Bears, Smith’s defenses led the NFL in takeaways twice. During his nine year regime, the Bears finished in the NFL’s top eight in turnovers recovered seven times.
Smith has the perfect role model to instill this philosophy in the Illinois Fighting Illini– Charles Peanut Tillman.
In his first game as Illini head coach, Illinois took it away on the very first two defensive drives. They went on to beat lowly FCS foe Murray State handily.Follow paulmbanks
The final result on the scoreboard was a bit unsightly, North Carolina 48, Illinois 23, but there were many positives. Running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn was a major one. He broke off a 65-yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage and went over a 100 yards rushing by halftime.
The fact that Illinois actually had a lead in this game this year, and remained within striking distance until midway through the fourth quarter was another positive. With new Head Coach Lovie Smith in charge this year was all about getting off the bus running with Ke’Shawn Vaughn.Follow paulmbanks
In 2016, Illini football has returned to relevance. The buzz is back.
The days of Tim Beckman’s “if you take away X plays and Y points, we’re in this game” are ancient history. As tonight’s sellout crowd of 60,670 attests, the days of Illinois Football @EmptySeatPics are gone too. It was the first sellout at Memorial Stadium since November 12th, 2011. The atmosphere was electric. The crowd was jacked.
The game was interesting….for three quarters. Interest and enthusiasm for the team has returned. The team itself has a ways to go.Follow paulmbanks
New Illini football coach Lovie Smith had a debut that went about as well as anyone could have wanted. Illinois wasted no time pouncing on lowly FCS opponent Murray State, forcing turnovers on the Racers first two drives and the score was 14-0 before a lot of people had even reached their seats. The 52-3 final matched Bill Cubit’s debut as Illini head football coach versus Kent State in the season opener last year.
The Illini out-gained the Racers 515-165 for the game and held Murray State to -10 yards rushing. This week’s opponent though, is light years better than a bad, even by FCS standards, team.Follow paulmbanks