Brutally Honest Chicago Homecoming Preview #19 Washington vs Illinois


Illini football will host a Chicago Homecoming Saturday for the thousands of UI alumni in Chicago. They take on the #19 Washington Huskies at 5 pm at the home of the Chicago Bears.

The only other time the Illini played at Soldier Field it was also versus a team from Washington State. They lost a very very low scoring contest to Ryan Leaf and the Washington State Cougars in 1994. The final result was 10-9. The last time the Illini played in Chicago, they defeated Northwestern 48-27 at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. It was the famous “both teams going the same direction” game. Mikel Leshoure set a new Illini single game rushing record with 334 yards.


As part of the Chicago Homecoming festivities, there will be tailgating and a special Chicago-style Street Fest area located just outside Soldier Field for fans and alumni to take in the home of the Chicago Bears. As the Illini borrow the Bears home for a day, remember the Bears borrowed the Illini home, Memorial Stadium for 2002 while Soldier Field was being renovated. (more on the Chicago Homecoming game)

Bears and Illini legend Dick Butkus will be at the tailgate. (more on this)

Reknowned Blackhawks national anthem singer Jim Cornelison will do the Star Spangled banner. (more on this)

TV: Big Ten Network 5pm

Spread: Washington -10

Hashtags: #Illini #ILLvsWas #B1G



Illini analysis:

From Vaughn McClure in the Chicago Tribune:

The general sense of doubt about Illinois football should have been enough incentive for the Illini on Saturday.

In case it wasn’t, Jonathan Brown added more fuel.

The senior linebacker distributed articles to his teammates Wednesday of all the naysayers predicting Cincinnati would blow out Illinois. They certainly motivated wide receiver Ryan Lankford.

“There might not have been one that said we would win this game,” Lankford said. “And we said to ourselves, ‘OK. It’s go time.”’

Bulletin-board material doesn’t always work, but it apparently contributed to the Illini’s inspired effort against the Bearcats.


I’m including a few pictures of Illini cheerleading (at least a couple more than I usually do anyway) because my Illinois previews and write-ups this season have been anything but Illini cheerleading. I was highly critical of the defense last week in my preview of the Cincy game, and I predicted the Bearcats to put 52 on Illinois. And beat them by 17.

I’ll be the first to admit I was way wrong. I admitted that on Twitter too; by the first quarter. I still don’t think Illinois is going to win this week though. Not because I think this Illini team is bad, they’re not. It’s just Washington has looked really good thus far. Then again I was totally wrong last week about this Illini team, so maybe I’ll be off the mark again in the Chicago Homecoming game?


Tim Beckman on the Chicago Homecoming game at Soldier Field:

“Not everybody gets to do this. I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for any student-athlete to go in and say they got to play a college football game in the Orange and Blue at Soldier Field. I know this is one of things we want to continue to do as a program because it’s a unique experience, an experience that college football gives a young man and it just happens to be in our state and in one of our cities, so we’re excited about going up to Chicago.”

Beckman on Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux, who suffered an injury as gruesome as Kevin Ware during March Madness:

“Coach (Tim) Banks went there (to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana) after the football game because Coach Banks had much to do with Munchie’s recruitment and we were happy to hear that everything came out successful with it and we were happy to hear that he was heading back to Cincinnati yesterday, so we wish him the best as a football team because this game is about the student-athlete.”



#19 Washington Huskies analysis:

Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a first team All-American tight end for the Washington Huskies. Extremely tall, big and fast, he’s projected as a top 15 NFL Draft pick in 2014. I’ve seen him in the top 10 in a few mocks. Here’s where I put him in my mock draft. I have Illini LB Jonathan Brown in the first round too.

On March 9, 2013, Seferian-Jenkins was cited for DUI in Seattle. In July he plead guilty to DUI and served a day in jail. A blue chip football prospect with some character issues? I know shocking. UW Coach Steve Sarkisian suspended him for the Huskies’ season opener against #19 Boise State.

The Huskies didn’t miss him, as they crushed then #19 Boise 38-6. (more on Seferian Jenkins) Now imagine what that offense can accomplish with him.

UW faced Bye Week last Saturday, a game in which they were -77. Washington covered the spread, as the final score was Washington 84, Bye Week 0.

Ok, but seriously folks….Huskies QB Keith Price is a baller. He’s for real. As is this team.


Tim Beckman Hot Seat Reading: (0=Coach for Life, 100=Nuclear reactor core): 60. Both he and Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks were class acts, and great examples of sportsmanship and having perspective in life in the manner they handled the Legaux injury.

The 45-17 win over the Bearcats was by far the biggest of the Beckman era at Illinois. They’ve already accomplished more in 2013 than they did in all of 2012.

Bill Cubit has been the biggest difference, pulling a 180 with this offense. See this graphic below which tells us the whole story with numbers. (And makes learning fun!)


Brutally honest record: 46-21

Brutally honest prediction: Washington 30, Illinois 21

Is there more excitement for the Chicago Homecoming game now after a big win? Absolutely.

“I’m sure after this win that there’s more, but again, we are very, very focused on what we need to accomplish and how we need to get better. This football team is really driven in that direction and I can say it’s from the senior class down to the freshmen. They are all very aware of what we have and how we need to get better,” Beckman said Monday.

But there’s still plenty of work to do, even with Illinois receiving votes now in both polls, and this Huskies team is the truth.

Listen to me every Tuesday at 10:30 AM CDT talking Illini and Northwestern on 1620 The Zone, Omaha with Sharp and Benning

washington huskies cheerleaders

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter  (@paulmbanks)


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