First and foremost, welcome back to school for whatever filthy animals this applies to. The next 6 days are basically the best party of the year in the Champaign Urbana general area. You can lobby for Greek Reunion or tell me about Unofficial & spring semester ending. But to me, pound for pound, moving week into the first home game can't be beat. Doesn't matter if it's 2005 vs. Brian Leonard's Rutgers or 2021 and the allegation-riddled Nebraska team. You even get a syllabus this week. Get weird and play fast.
There's so much buzz in the air. So much promise as you guys try to reclaim your social lives. And there's few campuses across the Midwest you'd be better served to get after it than UIUC. Don't argue with me just look at the bar restrictions and social culture.
Another thing you can't argue with is the direction of Illinois football. Granted a lot of that was pointing straight down the last couple years. But more importantly the Illini have brought in one of the most successful coaches in the history of the Big Ten to lead the program. Bret Bielema is a certified legend and he sat down with Barstool Chicago going into his first season at Illinois. Suffice to say we're all in on coach after he instantly opened up to us and basically recruited Chief.
I'm not sure there's a better attitude for where Illinois needs to go. We've had such impressively bad teams under Lovie Smith save for the small hope that surrounded a two-touchdown loss to Cal in the 2019 Red Box bowl. You need someone that can put some confidence and faith into the program and honestly there's probably no better person available to do that than Bret Bielema.
He started 17-1 at Wisconsin. He won 3 straight conference titles without getting a postseason ban. 68-24 overall in 7 years that almost all ended in New Year's Day bowl games. Winning record every year with 3 top-10 finishes. That's the most realistic gold standard for just about every Big Ten team so you better believe I've talked myself into the hype.
This is life as an Illinois fan from Chicago. I have no choice. Comparatively speaking Illinois Football is one of my stronger options and that's largely because of Coach Bielema.
Also doesn't hurt that Nebraska is really struggling right now. Without disrespecting their unbridled hospitality, the allegations surrounding Coach Frost aren't great. But I don't know everything about the NCAAF coaching culture. Maybe this is more common place that it sounds?
I don't know the answers, just that I think Illinois can surprise some people nationally this weekend with all that stuff hanging over Nebraska.
Even if I can't bet the Orange & Blue in Illinois, I still really like them +7 and ML +205. Indiana border is just a short drive away so don't be surprised when you see me holding a ticket. That's how much I like Brett Bielema making a debut with our veteran O-Line.
Hit the hype videos.