- James Madison Dukes
Illinois football hasn’t played a lot of the Sun Belt because it is an intro conference. James Madison just became an FBS program, and its first season was in 2022. So, the Illini obviously haven’t played them. They did win eight games in year one, though.
- Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Since becoming an FBS team in 2017, Coastal Carolina has been pretty impressive. Illinois hasn’t had a chance to play the Chanticleers, but they have had 31 wins in the last three seasons and have made three straight bowl games.
- Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall is a pretty historic team that started in the FBS back in 1962. Illinois has never run into the Thundering Herd, which is a bit surprising. They seem like a team that we would play in a bowl game. Marshall has been a good team, though. They have made a bowl game in nine out of the past 10 seasons.
- Appalachian State Mountaineers
In 1972, Appalachian State joined the FBS but left in 1981. They rejoined back in 2014 and entered via the Sun Belt. Since then, the Mountaineers have played some good football and made a bowl game in seven out of the past eight seasons. Illinois has yet to play the Michigan Killers, though.
- Georgia Southern Eagles
There isn’t a long history in the FBS for Georgia Southern. They joined the Sun Belt back in 2014, and this is why Illinois hasn’t had a chance to play the Eagles just yet. Georgia Southern has been competitive, though, making a bowl game in five out of the nine seasons in the FBs.
- Old Dominion Monarchs
In 2014, Old Dominion joined the FBS ranks via Conference USA. They haven’t had a chance to play the Illini yet, but the Monarchs have been struggling greatly. They joined the Sun Belt in 2022 and only managed three wins in the first season.
- Troy Trojans
Troy finally made the jump to the FBS ranks in 2001. They seemed like a team that Illinois would have scheduled in the non-conference, but that hasn’t happened. The Trojans have an okay program, as they have made a bowl game in four out of the past seven seasons.
- South Alabama Cougars
Illinois hasn’t scheduled South Alabama in the 11 seasons they have been an FBS program. The Jaguars joined the Sun Belt in 2012, and they have only made three bowl games since. This would have been a great non-conference opponent.
- Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks
The final Sun Belt team is Louisiana-Monroe. Illinois hasn’t run into the Warhawks since they became an FBS team back in 1975. Louisiana-Monroe has been a pretty bad team since then as well. The Warhawks have only made one bowl game in program history.