Illinois Football: Optimistic Outlook for the Rest of the Illini Season

Nov 28, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; The Illinois Fighting Illini seniors salute the crowd prior to a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Soldier Field. Northwestern won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; The Illinois Fighting Illini seniors salute the crowd prior to a game against the Northwestern Wildcats at Soldier Field. Northwestern won 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

While the Illinois football team didn’t start out the way people had hoped, there is still plenty of time left to turn things around.

The spirit of the Illinois Fighting Illini fan is usually optimistic so this is going to be the optimistic outlook on the rest of the 2016 season.

I already did the pessimistic outlook yesterday and that was not fun at all.  That is a bleak outlook for the Illini and their future.

But, don’t worry Illini fans, the season is not over and there is still plenty of room for people to jump back on the bandwagon.

Well, right now Illinois is 1-2 on the season with a blowout win over Murray State and close loss to what should be a top 25 North Carolina team.

Illinois Fighting Illini
Illinois Fighting Illini /

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini were within eight points of the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter of that game.  If it wasn’t for a bad pass interference call the game could have been different down the stretch.

Illinois then fell to Western Michigan, but that isn’t that bad of a loss.  While they are a MAC program, they still are undefeated and could be in the top 25 within the next few weeks.

So, the two losses Illinois already has are to arguably two teams in the top 25 in college football.  That isn’t that bad at all.

The next game for the Illini is against No. 20 Nebraska in Lincoln.  This is going to be a tough game but last season they shut down Tommy Armstrong Jr. and beat the Cornhuskers.

With Illinois coming off a bye week and regrouping after losing two in a row, I think the Illini pull off an upset 27-24.

This is Lovie’s first win over a top 25 program of his career.  Illinois moves to 2-2 on the year.

Illinois then welcomes in the Purdue Boilermakers.  This game shouldn’t be a problem for the Illini after beating a good Nebraska team the week before.

Purdue is a really bad team and they show it on Saturday.  Illinois wins the game 48-14 and moves to 3-2 on the season.

The next game for the Illini is against Rutgers.  This will be a tough contest because of the Scarlet Knights running backs but I think Illinois will be up for the challenge.

Illinois fights through difficulties stopping the run and hold Rutgers to less than 150 yards on the ground as a team.  The Illini win the game 28-14 and move to 4-2 on the year.

The Illini then travel to No. 4 Michigan.  This is a tough game and one I just don’t see Illinois winning.

But, Illinois does shock the world and take the Wolverines down to the wire.  It is a one possession game until Michigan nails a field goal to end up winning 35-25.  Illinois drops to a record of 4-3.

The next game is against Minnesota at home.  This should be an easy game considering the Golden Gophers don’t have much talent anywhere on the football field.

Illinois comes out running the ball down Minnesota’s throat and controls the game.  Illinois wins 35-10 and moves to 5-3 on the season.

No. 8 Michigan State comes to Champaign next in a tough battle for bowl eligibility.  This game will be tough and I see Illinois fighting all the way down to the wire.

Illinois has the ball and they are only down by seven points on the final drive.  But, the Spartans end up stopping the Illini on fourth down to win the game 17-10.  Illinois is now 5-4 on the season.

No. 11 Wisconsin is next on the schedule for the Illini.  This is a tough game because of the running threat that Corey Clement poses.

More from Writing Illini

Clement is usually dominant on the ground but Illinois finds a way to contain him for only 86 yards on the day.  The Illini then attack with their ground game and Vaughn goes for over 130 yards for the game.

Illinois takes Wisconsin down to the wire and they beat the Badgers with an interception by Julian Hylton.  The final score is 24-21 and Illinois becomes bowl eligible with a record of 6-4.

Illinois then heads into their final two games against Iowa and at Northwestern.

Iowa turns out to be a tough opponent because of their vaunted defense.  But, Illinois fights through the tough offensive day with a victory 13-10 over the Hawkeyes.  This moves Illinois to 7-4 on the season.

The final game is at Northwestern.  The Wildcats are proving to be bad this season so this game should be easy for the Illini.

Illinois has a solid offensive day but most importantly they shut down Justin Jackson for only 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

This is a positive and optimistic look at what the Illinois football team could do this season.  They can still lose two more games this season and finish with an 8-4 record.

Next: Illinois Football: 4 Quarterback Options for the Illini in 2017

Illinois is not done for the 2016 season and with this outlook, We Will Win.