The Illinois Fighting Illini football team open the season on Saturday against the Southern Illinois Salukis. So after a disappointing 2-10 record for the Illini, can Illinois get back to bowl eligibility? Let’s break it down.
Nathan Scheelhaase is in his final year at Illinois. His career started out well going to two bowl games in his freshman and sophomore year. After a disappointing junior year, he is looking to bounce back in his senior season. If Illinois is going to go to 3 bowls in 4 seasons, Scheelhaase will have to be the leading rusher. The offense must run through him.
When Tim Beckman was hired, he was suppose to bring some defensive toughness to the Illini. Well, that didn’t happen. Illinois finished 10th in the Big 10 in total defense last season. Sure they were a mediocre defense nationally but in the Big 10, that isn’t going to cut it. To make matters worse, the Illini got blown out in so many games last year. Can’t do that this year.
Tim Beckman is fighting for his job. You don’t repeat a season like he had in 2012 and keep your job. He has to show progress. How much progress? I think he needs to win 4 games. They got Cincinnati at home and Washington in Chicago for their non-conference game. If they can go 4-0 in non-conference, they can just get 2 Big 10 wins and get to a bowl game. I predict 3-1 in non-conference and they get 2 Big 10 wins.
Illinois final record: 5-7