Pregame: Illinois vs Penn State, Saturday, September 16th, 11:00am CT, FOX

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Something else to consider. I believe our first two games were in weather of 90+ degrees. It’s supposed to be 76 on Saturday. Of course, the other teams also had to play in that hot weather, but perhaps it affected our ability to have our stars on the field and exposed some depth issues ok our end compared to our opponents.
The wife and I will drive down at about noon tomorrow, and I am getting really excited! Win or lose, it will still be a fun weekend in Champaign, and it will hopefully be an atmosphere at Grange Grove/Memorial Stadium that neither of us have seen before ... most of our trips have been in the freezing cold, which inevitably waters down the tailgating scene when you haven't built up a true "football culture" yet.

My heart says these guys will have the motivation necessary to keep this one close ... and if it's close it's because the defense has returned to form, and if the defense has returned to form, you give yourself a chance vs. ANYONE late in the game! My head, unfortunately, fears that the buzz of the crowd is zapped out of the stadium early, as PSU drives at will and goes up 7-0 early ... the score on paper remains "within reach" for a while, but we never really feel like we can wrestle control of the game from them. I think we will know REALLY early (pretty much PSU's first offensive possession) if we are going to see a different Illini team. The eternal optimist in me thinks that the mini comeback vs. Kansas could be the start of things turning around, and that we just needed time to figure it out ... I'm hoping against hope that's the case, because MAN what a huge win this would be for this program.

RE: the crowd, it looks like there is still a ton of availability. This will be a joke compared to the ticket tracker (which I enjoy following more than our team at this point, lol ... jk), but here is a quick overview of the sections by area in the stadium:

West Main: 3 sold out, 2 only singles, 4 low availability ... will likely look completely full.
West Balcony: 2 only singles, 7 low availability ... will likely look completely full.
Horseshoe: 2 sold out, 1 only singles, 10 low availability ... will look decently full, but there might be some empty rows in the back. Then again, even during "meh" attendance games, the 'Shoe seems to fill up, so I am still thinking it will look full.
East Main: 2 sold out, 1 only singles, 6 low availability ... while I wish this area was a bit more sold out, they are starting to make several rows beneath the East Balcony overhang available, which likely means East Main will look very full. This is where we will be sitting!
East Balcony: 4 low availability, 4 medium availability, 1 high availability ... this area is always the attendance bummer, huh?? Unfortunately, when you zoom in, this is looking like it might be significantly less full than even the Toledo game. Disappointing. :cry:

I'll go ahead and say a potentially unpopular opinion ... fail by the DIA if under 50k tickets are sold. Yes, you ran the promotions during the summer, and they can't just give tickets away. However, one could easily argue the team didn't hold up its end of the bargain for fans so far, and the DIA should be doing everything possible to make this a full stadium for such a prominent game. To have zero flash sales, ticket give-aways to youth groups, specific bargains for students, etc. is kind of a bummer. With it being the Thursday before the game, I am resigned to a decent-if-underwhelming crowd ... but it sucks to wonder what could have been if we started off better. :(
I have not seen Penn State play, how does team speed compare with what we have seen from the Illini?


Cincinnati, OH
Think you'll see both those guys. As well as Adams at RT.

Here's to hoping whoever goes first does well and we avoid this carousel. It's hard enough to learn one position, or getting your first real reps, let alone doing some rotations against one of the best defensive lines in the country.
For fun, here are the last five top 10 opponents we have played, both overall and at Memorial Stadium!

2022: #3 Michigan 19, Illinois 17 (Ann Arbor, MI)
2021: Illinois 20, #7 Penn State 18 in 9OT (State College, PA)
2019: Illinois 24, #6 Wisconsin 23 (Champaign, IL)

2018: #10 Penn State 63, Illinois 24 (Champaign, IL)
2017: #8 Ohio State 52, Illinois 14 (Columbus, OH)

2019: Illinois 24, #6 Wisconsin 23
2018: #10 Penn State 63, Illinois 24
2017: #5 Wisconsin 24, Illinois 10
2015: #3 Ohio State 28, Illinois 3
2013: #3 Ohio State 60, Illinois 35

As you can clearly see, we have not lost to a top 10 opponent in Champaign in 1,821 days!! We have also won 2 of our last 3 games vs. top 10 opponents. Additionally, we are completely and totally UNDEFEATED vs. a Penn State team that is ranked #7 - 1-0 mentality!

Let's do this.


North Aurora
You'll see a different OL out there this week.
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I think it’s important to make one thing clear….this PSU team is being touted as the most talented/experienced James Franklin has ever had. And that’s being said by both fans and some media. I think we all saw PSU on the schedule and thought “awesome, we get to dodge tOSU and Mich”. But this team might be better than both of them this season.

So hopefully we can give them a game, and maybe even pull off an awesome upset. But I’m not going to give up on this team if we get whooped for the 2nd week in a row. The path to 7+ wins is still easy to see, regardless of this games outcome.
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