B1G Schedule Breakdown: Illinois

Last year about this time I broke down the schedules for each and every B1G squad for 2011. It was a fun little way to pass the time during this rather boring stretch of off-season where there's really nothing going on or much to talk about. So let's do it again, shall we?

Let's start off with the Leaders Division, and alphabetically at the top of the heap...Illinois.

2011 Overall Record: 7-6
2011 Big Ten Record: 2-6

Date    Opponent
Sept. 1   Western Michigan
Sept. 8   @ Arizona State
Sept. 15   Charleston Southern
Sept. 22   Louisiana Tech
Sept. 29   Penn State
Oct. 6   @ Wisconsin

Oct. 13   @ Michigan
Oct. 27   Indiana
Nov. 3   @ Ohio State

Nov. 10   Minnesota
Nov. 17   Purdue
Nov. 24   @ Northwestern

Do Not Play
Michigan State

Biggest Game: I think the first true test of this team is going to come on the road at Wisconsin on October 6th. There's no question the Badgers are the team to beat in the Leaders Division. I don't honestly think Illinois can beat them, especially on the road, but it will at least give the rest of the league a good idea where Illinois is at in terms of honest-to-goodness threat-level.

Non-Conference Loss: I'll go with Arizona State on the road because we all know how well B1G teams perform against the Pac-12 out west. Western could sneak up on the Illini in week 1, but I'll be generous and give them the win so they can go into the Arizona State game 1-0.

It's a Trap!: Hard to get trapped when you are the trap game for everyone else. But I'll go with Indiana on October 27th. The Hoosiers could be riding high fresh off a win at Navy the week before, and just might sneak up on the Illini in Champaign.

The Game Destined for ESPN3.com: I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see how the Illini fair against the mighty Buccaneers of Charleston Southern University (enrollment: 3,200).

Final Analysis: I predict a tough year for the Illini as they navigate through the Big Ten under first year coach Tim Beckman. There are some pretty good holes to fill on both sides of the ball. This schedule is actually pretty fair, and Illinois has the potential to do better than the 5-7 that I foresee. It all depends on how well this team can rally behind Beckman. The non-conference schedule is kind to the Illini, and that could be used to springboard a successful season. But I think competition is going to be fierce, not only in the Leaders Division, but the B1G as a whole.

Fearless Predictions
Non-conference record: 3-1
Division Record: 1-4
Crossover Record: 1-2
Overall: 5-7

1 comment

  1. So by "Do Not Play," do you mean "Does Not Play"? That might make more sense. Or "Not on Schedule."

    "Do Not Play" sounds like a warning. DO NOT PLAY!