You’re like, “ok Captain Obvious.”
Not so fast my friend, I was saying this in August too. I thought my local media friends would find that assertion crazy given all the BCS preseason hype Notre Dame was getting, and the fact that Illinois was getting zero votes in either poll.
But the truth is Notre Dame is 2-2, and very mediocre, while the Illini are this year’s Michigan State- a team that will finish with a much better record than they deserve. Like the ’10 Spartans, Illinois’ schedule sets up perfectly for a very fast start and a sweet record.
I predicted that MSU surge last season too. I said they’d start 7-0, with a their first seven games within their own state; first five at home. Their 8th game was at Northwestern, a place where they would have more fans than the home team, so it was kind of a neutral site. MSU started 8-0.
Illinois has eight home games for the first time in history. And they got lucky with their conference schedule too. But before we look ahead at their slate, let’s break down the Irish.
Stanford, Navy, USC.
The Cardinal is the most talented and accomplished team the Irish will play all season- no denying that. Despite the ugly loss to Arizona State, I still think the Trojans have superior talent to the Irish, but I could easily ND pulling the upset.
Could go either way:
Even though the Irish have a decent run defense, I think they’ll split with the ground-attack obsessed service academies. I don’t know which one will beat them, I just know one will.
Boston College, Maryland, Wake Forest, Purdue.
So it’s pretty clear that ND has a conference after all- the ACC. They would go 8-4 or better every season in that league. This year screams 7-5; which right back where they were last year. That’s unfortunate for ND nation, because this was supposed to be their year. Next season they lose possibly 8 starters on defense, Michael Floyd and their whole offensive line.
I know Illinois is not going to finish 11-1. Zook’s play-calling should cost them at least one game, maybe more. And on the flipside, Illinois will steal one they shouldn’t. Take a look at the grouping below to find it.
Could go either way:
Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan.
Only one of these games is on the road, so that helps immensely.
Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana.
Again, the Illini really got lucky with their Big Ten schedule this season. Everything points to 10-2 or 9-3.
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