Illinois football ended the 2022 campaign not ranked, and that is how we are starting the 2023 campaign as well.
The first AP Top 25 was released on Monday. Illinois didn’t make it into the top 25, but we did manage to receive three votes. If you count it out, we are technically the No. 43 team in the country, if you go by how many votes we ended up getting.
While some people might be bummed that Illinois didn’t make it into the AP Top 25, and I wish we would have, it is still a solid step in the right direction to at least get some votes to be ranked.
You have to go back to the 2008 campaign to find the last time Illinois was actually ranked heading into a season. We were coming off a run to the Rose Bowl just months earlier, and expectations were high with Juice Williams returning. That season did end well, though.
On top of that, since 1965, Illinois has started the season ranked in the top 25 just six times. I think it is a positive step that we managed to get three votes. A strong start to the 2023 campaign and who knows, maybe we crawl up into the top 25 by the month of October.
Numerous teams on the Illinois football schedule in 2023 are listed in the AP Top 25
Thankfully, the first couple of rankings don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. No one knows how each team will fare this season. While I think the Illinois schedule is weak in 2023, there are some teams we will face that are ahead of us on the AP Top 25.
Out of the 12 games Illinois plays in the regular season, we play three ranked teams – Penn State No. 7, Wisconsin No. 19, Iowa No. 25 – and a total of three teams who have received votes to be ranked – Kansas 10 votes, Minnesota 6 votes, Toledo 4 votes.
I think this season could be prosperous for the Illinois football program, but the initial AP Top 25 has the schedule a little tougher than I thought. Let’s see how the season plays out.