5. Illinois football is rising from the dead
About a month ago, there were a lot of people counting Illinois out. We had just lost back-to-back games against Purdue and Nebraska, and this dropped our record to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.
But if there is anything I know about the Bret Bielema era of Illinois football it is that we fight. We aren’t going down easily. Over the past month, the Illini have risen from the dead and are now legitimate bowl contenders.
Beating Maryland was a turning point for the Illini. This was a game most people had us losing, but the fact we were able to go into College Park and come away with a victory was a huge momentum builder.
Illinois should have beaten Wisconsin the following week. This was a game we had in the bag, but we let it slip away. It was painful to watch, but Illinois continued to fight through the struggles.
Over the past two weeks, I have been amazed by this program. Illinois’ incredible comeback against Minnesota and then our ability to keep up with a high-scoring game was phenomenal. We went from being down in the dumps to rattling off three wins in four games.
At 5-5, Illinois is squarely in the mix for a bowl game. We have a chance to upset a top-25 program next week in Iowa, and then we end the season with Northwestern coming to town. One win would get us to a bowl game, but I want something more. Let’s run the table and get to seven wins in 2023. That would be a big accomplishment for this coaching staff and program.