Sep 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Aaron Bailey (15) rushes for a touchdown against the Washington Huskies during the second half at Soldier Field. Washington defeats Illinois 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois Fighting Illini Ranked #68 Nationally By Athlon Sports

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The Illinois Fighting Illini continue to be seen as one of the bottom feeders nationally in the NCAA. No matter what the rankings, no one has much faith in Tim Beckman’s Illini squad heading into the 2014 season.

Just last week, Athlon Sports ranked the Fighting Illini 68th nationally in the college football landscape, and sixth in the Big Ten. It’s clear that the premier college sports magazine thinks that Illinois’ best days at obviously ahead of them.

Athlon broke down the offense, defense, and special teams along with giving a final verdict. Everything in Athlon’s breakdown is nothing new to Illini Nation.

The offense looks to get better in Bill Cubit’s second season at Illinois. Wes Lunt might be the “perfect” quarterback for Cubit’s system, running back Josh Ferguson will be heavily relied on in the backfield, and the Illinois receivers will need to step up to replace all the talent that was lost.

For the defense? The only place to go is up (or so we hope). If Illinois can just improve the defense a little bit in 2014, they should be able to win six games and make a bowl game.

Since we haven’t touched Tim Beckman’s job security in quite some time, let’s shed some life on the situation, and show how important this season is for Tim Beckman. Here’s what Athlon had to say about it.

The third year has usually been the charm for Illinois head coaches. Mike White, John Mackovic, Lou Tepper, Ron Turner and Ron Zook all reached bowls in their third seasons. Now, it’s Tim Beckman’s turn to try to keep the streak going. While the school hasn’t issued an ultimatum, a bowl bid would help secure Beckman’s future. The non-conference schedule is set up for success, with winnable home games against Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. Take those three, and the Illini are halfway to a postseason berth.

In other rankings, Athlon listed Tim Beckman as the 98th-best coach out of all 128 college football coaches while quarterback Wes Lunt is the tenth-best QB in the conference.

The bright side to these rankings is that the Illinois Fighting Illini are expected to finish above Purdue in the Big Ten West Division.

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Tags: Football Illinois Fighting Illini Wes Lunt