Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: A season of potential

Illinois football 2009 -- a forecast

By Greg Taylor

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[August 11, 2009]  It's hard to believe it is upon us, but the Illini football season is just four weeks from game No. 1. The team that won our hearts with nine victories in a Rose Bowl run in 2007 slipped to an unacceptable 5-7 record in 2008. Several of the key players from 2007 are still a part of this team, but the question going through all of our minds remains the same: Will the 2009 Illini rebound with another Run for the Roses? Or will the years of 2005, 2006 and 2008 repeat themselves this fall?

I've spent much of the summer trying to get a feel for this team -- and here is where I stand in early August. The schedule is once again challenging but appears to be front-loaded in terms of difficulty. At this point, I'm predicting an 8-4 overall finish and a 6-2 conference record. Some of my friends in the media are probably thinking "put down the Kool-Aid" (and they may be right), but here is the official GT forecast for 2009 Illinois football:
  • Sept. 5 -- vs. Missouri at St. Louis -- Illinois brings the offense but can't shut down the Tiger attack. Illinois plays tough but loses a shootout 45-35. (0-1; 0-0)

  • Sept. 12 -- vs. Illinois State at home -- The Illini overwhelm the 1-AA Redbirds in the 6 p.m. showdown, winning with ease 42-14. (1-1; 0-0)

  • Sept. 26 -- at Ohio State -- Illinois usually plays the Buckeyes tough in Columbus, but the Buckeye defense is too much to overcome, as the Illini lose 21-10. (1-2; 0-1)


  • Oct. 3 -- vs. Penn State at home -- The Illini play really well against the top 10 Nittany Lions, but in the end the Penn State offense pulls away, sending Illinois to a 31-24 loss. (1-3; 0-2)

  • Oct. 10 -- vs. Michigan State at home -- In danger of falling to 1-4, the Illini attack from the get-go and send Sparty back to East Lansing sad. Illinois wins the game 35-24. (2-3; 1-2)

  • Oct. 17 -- at Indiana -- Illinois plays the Hoosiers at night for the second year in a row and gives the Hoosiers a beat-down in Eric Gordon land. It's all orange and blue as the Illini win 45-17. (3-3; 2-2)

  • Oct. 24 -- at Purdue -- The Illini play Purdue for the first time in three seasons and punish the rebuilding Boilers with a 38-13 win to move one game over the .500 mark. (4-3; 3-2)

  • Oct. 31 -- vs. Michigan at home -- For the first time since 1983, the Illini win against the Wolverines in Champaign with a 27-14 victory. (5-3; 4-2)

[to top of second column]

  • Nov. 7 -- at Minnesota -- Illinois has this game marked from the start of fall practice and gets revenge on the Gophers for last year's homecoming loss, winning on the road 35-14. (6-3; 5-2)

  • Nov. 14 -- vs. Northwestern at home -- Illinois' offensive attack is too much for the Wildcats, as Illinois closes the conference schedule with their sixth straight win in a 24-17 victory. (7-3; 6-2)

  • Nov. 27 -- at Cincinnati -- Illinois has struggled in nonconference road games in the Zook era, and the struggle continues this year with a 21-20 loss in the land of Skyline Chili. (7-4; 6-2)

  • Dec. 5 -- vs. Fresno State at home -- the first December home game in the history of Illinois football ends with a win as the warm-weather visitors cannot move the ball in a 28-13 victory. (8-4; 6-2)

Some fans would take this forecast right now and be totally satisfied. Others want more -- much more -- and think games against Missouri, Penn State and Cincinnati should be Illini wins. How will it all play out? -- who knows? But one way or another, we are ready for some football. Here's to a season full of victories and minus serious injuries. Here's hoping the Illini shine in 2009!


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