Illinois football has ugly history with EA Sports 25 toughest places to play

I feel like the Illinois football team is turning a corner, but history shows that we have struggled mightily against the EA Sports 25 toughest places to play
Illinois v Ohio State
Illinois v Ohio State / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Illinois football is going to start packing Memorial Stadium in the coming years, as winning will become more consistent.

The ability to load up Memorial Stadium has been proven. When the Illini are good, that stadium can be filled. It has been a while, though. The last time we topped 50,000 fans in Memorial Stadium was 2010. In 2008, we got to over 60,000 fans.

When you look at total attendance for a season, the 1980s dominated for the Orange and Blue. They own the top four spots with 1990 taking spot No. 5. Out of the top 20 single-season attendance records, only two have happened in the last 10 seasons. 2014 ranked No. 16 and 2016 ranked No. 20.

So, to say Memorial Stadium isn’t in the top 25 toughest places to play isn’t a surprise. Could it be in the future? Sure, we just need to start winning more and I believe will.

But EA Sports published the top 25 toughest places to play in the new College Football 25 game that will be released on July 19. That list obviously doesn’t have Illinois’ Memorial Stadium listed, but I did compile the Illini record against the 25 programs on the list.

The Illinois football team has struggled massively with the EA Sports 25 toughest places to play

Among the top 25, Illinois is undefeated against 15 of the teams. That doesn’t mean we have beaten them either, though. The Illini either haven’t played these teams or haven’t played them on the road.

Illinois has played and is winless against four of the programs. We are 0-1 against Texas A&M (Kyle Field), Florida (Ben Hill Griffin Stadium), and Oregon (Autzen Stadium). Notre Dame has beaten us in all five games at Notre Dame Stadium as well.

The team that Illinois has been the most successful against among the 25 toughest places to play is Iowa (Kinnick Stadium). The Illini have played a total of 41 games against the Hawkeyes on the road and is 18-21-2 overall.

When you put all of the records together, Illinois is 75-146-12 against the 25 toughest places to play. That is a 32% winning rate, which isn’t great. Hopefully, Bret Bielema continues to recruit well and turn the tide on some of these crucial matchups.

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