Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We'd make fun of Illinois a little bit here, but as detailed in the past, we're afraid of Ron Zook.
But seriously, Illinois is one of those really confusing teams....recruit well, have an up year, three down years, seriously underachieve, look like you've quit, yet have players fiercely loyal to their crazy coach. Actually, that's kind of the Ron Zook coaching theme -- bring in talent and then hope your emotion and intensity can win you the day. It rarely does, but that hasn't stopped spinoffs like Brewster up in Minnesota from taking the same approach. Problem with playing on emotion, of course, is that when you're 3-6 it's hard to be up for anything anymore.
Zook has got to be on thin ice at this point and desperately needs a good season. He's had losing seasons in four of his five seasons in Champagne, with the one non-loser being the Rose Bowl season of 2007. Yes, that buys you some cred and it should. But how much?
Last year's 3-9 squad lost by ten at Purdue and with all of us thinking Purdue should be a better team, it makes this game one of those sneaky-critical games. You have to beat teams like Illinois -- even on the road -- if you want to move towards that proverbial "next step." If you're not beating Illinois on the road, don't even bother getting on the bus for Columbus (never mind that OSU is the previous week -- just let me go, I'm rolling).
In fact, the Illini are riding a five game losing streak against the Boilermakers, with their last win over the Old Gold and Black coming in 2002.
So, readers, what say you?