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Iím Thankful for an Illini Thanksgiving Weekend!
By Jeff Mayfield

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[December 01, 2014]  If you are an Illini fan, and most of the cool kids are, could you have scripted a more fun or more exciting Thanksgiving weekend? I think not.

First the men's basketball team went out to Las Vegas, smoked Indiana State and then made a great second half rally to dump the Baylor Bears to win the tournament! The Illini have started the season with a sparkling 6-0 record.

Not to be out done the lady Illini upset No. 9 Kentucky and the volleyball ladies clubbed Michigan and are once again on their way to the NCAA tourney where they will host two rounds as the overall No. 9 seed. Throw-in some high school and junior high wins along the way and I had to eat more congratulatory pumpkin pie than you can shake some cool whip at.

What I wasn't expecting was a college football team to show up in Illini white uniforms up in Ryan field at Northwestern on Saturday. Not that I didn't think they were capable, because I thought they were earlier this season and I said so...but because they haven't looked as much like a college football team in the middle portion of the schedule. In fact, they looked so lost most of the time the LDNís own Greg Taylor remarked, "Have these guys even practiced?" I had to agree with him. And even though the fans deserted them like rats on the sinking titanic, they somehow upset Minnesota for homecoming, beat Penn State which always does my heart good, but still needed one more win to become bowl eligible and show that they have made some progress.

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I hate to say it as a homer reporter for the good guys, but I saw little chance of an Illinois victory on the lakeshore. However, Illinois didn't just beat the mildcats- they pummeled them! The Illini hammered them into submission. I guess that Illinois didn't want to say goodbye to their coach. They beat Northwestern in every facet of the game and should find out their bowl assignment next weekend. I'm in disbelief that I even just typed that last sentence. It doesn't seem like it belongs...that's the way the Illini felt, but now they do! Congrats to coach Beckman, to Reilly O'Toole, to the seniors, and to the Illinois football team...I hate to admit it, but I sure didn't see that coming!

As for the hoopsters, we'll soon see how good they really are as well. Tues night they'll travel to Miami, FL - I have to get on a travel schedule like that; anybody want to fund that?-to face Jim Larranaga's tough Miami Hurricane. They will return home for a game versus American which I know nothing about. After that they will tackle an outstanding Villanova squad out east before returning to Chicago to face always challenging Dana Altman and his Oregon Beavers. I donít know how itís all going to pan out butÖI say, keep passing the turkey leftovers and let's just keep on winning! I want this Thanksgiving weekend feeling to continue all the way through 2015!

Make it a great week everybody!


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