Why am I writing this up? Because I have to. You know I have to.
Why are you actually reading this? Because you love it. America loves a pathetic train wreck. How else can you explain Snooki’s 15 minutes? And how she somehow parlayed that into another 30 minutes? And believe me, one team here will play as unsightly as Snooki’s face. And the other team will play as unsightly as Snooki in tight pants. And you love watching me squirm and suffer; by having to write about this “hey, somebody will actually win for once” Bowl.
It’s the LOL Bowl, the Land of Lincoln trophy or LOL trophy game. And given how both of these teams are playing, the LOL contest will certainly have you ROTFL or LMAO. The Illini ended their 20 game Big Ten losing streak at Purdue a couple days ago. It was another tallest midget or nicest house in Joliet contest; just like this one.
TV: Wait someone actually wants to televise this?
Yes. BTN Saturday at 2:30.
SPREAD: Illini are 3.5 point underdogs at home.
Illini preview: You’ve heard the cliche “throw out the records when these two teams get together.” It always comes up when previewing rivalry games. Yes, throw out the records in this one. Then take the records over to the Robbins incinerator. Make sure the records are incinerated and then blast the ashes out into space. Remember on October 5th when these two teams had a combined record of 7-1? Me neither.
However, you have to give kudos to the Illini defense and Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks last week. Yes, Purdue is to playing offense what Sarah Palin is to sounding intelligent, but the Illini D held the Boilers ten straight times, shut them out in the second half and won the game for them. The Illini offense just wasn’t themselves. They played tight. They played not to lose.
This is going to sound a little bit nuts, but this Illini team is very close to being genuinely mediocre. Not train wreck awful like they’ve looked in the Big Ten, but actual mediocrity. We know Northwestern could “Northwestern this away” quite easily. Even though they’re a field goal favorite, some Northwesterning might happen on Saturday. If the Illini win, that’s 5-7. If Bill Cubit had shown ANY FAITH AT ALL in his running game at Penn State- that’s 6-6. A very unimpressive 6-6 and the bowl bid would be to a sixth tier bowl, but it’s mediocrity nonetheless.
That’s certainly not anything for Illini nation to strive for; or be proud of. But it is something substantial when you consider what the 2012 Illini were. They were 2013 Purdue bad. And the Illini beating Purdue last week somehow made the LOL Bowl worse. It’s weird. Kind of like 0-7 v. 0-7 might have been fun bad. But now Tim Beckman and the Illini ruined it by making it 1-6 vs 0-7.
And yet, the team with an actual conference win is the underdog! Only in the LOL Bowl.
This is not a drill.
This week’s Chicago Now Northwestern football piece is indeed just as uplifting as last week’s piece. And by that I mean it’s as uplifting as the plot to Lars Von Trier’s award-winning film Melancholia; starring Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland. Here’s the plot; spoiler alert. Depressing yes, but it does have a Kirsten Dunst naked scene going for it. This game has………???………????……..the fact that the college football season ends for both these teams when the clock strikes 00:00? We always call these features “brutally honest preview” but for this one we just call it brutal.
Whether NU finishes 5-7 or 4-8, it doesn’t really matter. The story of the 2013 Northwestern football season has already been written. “Good riddance” might as well be your theme. Because Northwestern is not going to a bowl for the first time since 2007. They will not be bowl eligible for the first time since 2006, Fitz’s first year on the job. The end of the bowl game streak signifies that this losing streak hasn’t just been comprised of season defining losses, but also program defining losses.
There is no more “5:03,” “day to day with a lower body injury,” “quarterbacks 1A and 1B,” “exciting times for our program, especially our seniors.” It’s simply, for the first time in seven years, watching the program take a step backward. So it’s already time to start thinking about what Fitz needs to do to restart, refresh, and revitalize the program. Get things going in the right direction again.
Venric Mark comes back next year. That’s something to get excited about!
Brutally Honest record: 73-27
Prediction: Northwestern 27, Illini 24
I just want to say for the record that I think people who shop on Black Friday, people who get excited and care about spending their money on Black Friday, are the dumbest and most pathetic people on the face of this planet. So Friday, I condescend to them as I’m far above what they’re doing on that day. 24 hours later, all those same exact people have a right to condescend right back to me. As I’ll be watching the Illini versus Northwestern. And they’ll be doing something else. Whatever that is, it’s better. So they have every right to condescend to me.
Unless of course, you’re shopping on Friday and then watching/attending the LOL Bowl the next day.
If that’s true…….maybe you should watch Melancholia and then realize the fate of those characters in that movie…isn’t so bad after all.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS Catch him Tuesdays talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago Bears for WAOR 95.7 The Fan