With each passing day, we are getting closer and close to Illinois football in 2014. Even though the Fighting Illini improved their overall record in 2013, fans are just as anxious leading into the 2014 campaign. This is because the Orange & Blue are close to returning to the postseason, and many fans want to see the Illini earn a bowl bid in 2014.
The next game on our schedule preview for the 2014 season is Illinois’ last non-conference game on September 20th when the team hosts the Texas State Bobcats.
2013 Record: 6-6 (2-5 in the Sun Belt)
Key Losses: WR Andy Erickson, WR Isaiah Battle, LB Damion McMiller, S Aaron Matthews
Key Returners: QB Tyler Jones, RB Robert Lowe, LB Michael Orakpo, LB David Mayo
Player to Watch: QB Tyler Jones
Arguably, the most important position on any football team is the quarterback, and that position will definitely be important for Texas State in 2014. Right now, the probable starter for the Bobcats is sophomore Tyler Jones. Jones returns to the team this season after starting eight games during his freshman campaign. In those eight games, he threw for over 1,000 yards, completed over 60% of his passes, and had eight touchdowns to five interceptions. Although his touchdown numbers seem low for the season as a whole, it was really a “tale of two halves” for the young Texas State quarterback. That’s because Jones didn’t play well in his first four games. He didn’t reach 100 passing yards in three of those four games, and he also had one touchdown to three interceptions. However, the script flipped in his second four games, as he closed his 2013 season with three games over 200 passing yards and had thrown seven touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Prediction: Illinois 56 – Texas State 14
There’s no reason for Illini fans to worry about Texas State on the Illinois schedule. This game should serve the same purpose as the Miami (OH) game played for the Orange & Blue last season. Illini Nation can expect the offense to roll while the defense gets a little confidence boost before entering Big Ten play. Tyler Jones and the Bobcats could get on the scoreboard twice, but the Bill Cubit offense will rule the day and make sure the Illini stay well ahead of Texas State.
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