Why the Illini Will Win More Games than Notre Dame

scheelhaase

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.

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Questioning Ron Zook’s Very Questionable Play-Calls, Rationale

erin andrews and ron zook

Fans of the Florida Gators will understand this piece.

Actually non college football fans will probably understand it even.

It feels like we publish this column every season. Last year, we did the “Did Ron Zook’s play-calling cost Illinois a win?” story after the Illini had a chance to upset then #2 Ohio State at home in the Big Ten conference opener. Go here to brush up on that.

And then there’s the 2006 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers, in which Zook inexplicably went for 2-pt conversions not once, but twice (both attempts failed) with the game tied early in the second quarter of what ended up being a 1-pt loss. The Zooker told the media afterward that the decisions didn’t matter.

Even though it was a ONE point loss (32-31), but yeah…

..the Zook terrible decision making season got started earlier in 2011. This time it happened in the pre-conference, and the questionable play-calls didn’t actually cost them a victory, as the Illini held on to beat Western Michigan 23-20.

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Illinois Fighting Illini Showing a VASTLY Improved Run Defense

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Through the first three games of the season, there’s one facet of the 2010 Illinois Fighting Illini football team that is GREATLY improved over the 2009 squad- run defense. The Illini were terrible against the run last year, finishing ninth in the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed per game, and within the bottom third nationally.

Through the first two games, the Illini ranked 12th in the nation with 72.0 yards allowed per game, and 22nd nationally in points allowed (13.0 per game) They did surrender 163 yards on the ground and 22 points to MAC foe NIU today, but the comparison over last year is still very favorable.

In 2010, the defense has yielded 48 points and 999 yards through the first three contests, while last year the Illini gave up 84 points and and 1,158 yards. That’s a difference of 12 points and 50+ yards per game.

And the change starts at the top, with new Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning in place.

By Paul M. Banks

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