The Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois plays men’s football in the Big 10 Conference. It is a “league” where just about every team is big, fast, tough and hard to beat. The team from Illinois rarely excels in the Big 10 Conference because teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin are members. Those are the teams that generally rule and finish at the top of the Conference standings.
However, the Fighting Illini is not a second division squad just because it is generally overshadowed by teams that are more powerful than it is and better known, as well. The truth is that the University of Illinois fields a very good squad capable of beating just about any opponent.
Head Coach Tim Beckman, now in his third year, led his squad to a 6-7 Won-Loss record in 2014. The team’s performance in Conference games was not what the coach hoped it would be. The Fighting Illini lost five of eight Conference games.
Nevertheless, the University of Illinois did receive a bowl game invitation and accepted it. The squad played Louisiana Tech University in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and lost 35-18.
Coach Beckman and his players, those who were returning and those who are new to the team, approached this new season with high hopes and great expectations. Two games have been played so far and the results have been excellent.
The Fighting Illini hosted Kent State University on September 5th and routed the visitors by a score of 52-3. The following week, September 12th, was also a home game and the results were similar. The Fighting Illini shut out Western Illinois University 44-0.
Admittedly, these first two contests were played against non-Conference foes. However, Coach Beckman and his players believe they can play in a similar fashion when the Big 10 Season gets underway.
Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini will continue to play every team on its schedule. There are, for example, five more home games. These include contests against Middle Tennessee University on September 26th, the University of Nebraska on October 3rd, the 24th ranked Wisconsin Badgers on October 24th and top –rated Ohio State University on November 14th. There is also a game against 22nd ranked Northwestern University. It takes place after the Fighting Illini play Ohio State. The game is scheduled for November 28th.
The schedule also includes five more road games, the first of which, against the University of North Carolina is being played today, September 19th. Other road games include visits to the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 10th, the Nittany Lions of Penn State University on October 31st, the Boilermakers of Purdue on November 7th and the Minnesota Golden Gophers on November 21st.
It is a tough schedule at home and on the road. But the Fighting Illini feels it is “up to the task.” The team’s defense has been very stingy so far and its offense has excelled.
If the University of Illinois can match those performances when it plays Big 10 teams, this season may turn out to be memorable.