My Fear For 2011 August 19, 2010
The new Big Ten divisions are supposed to be announced soon. Which means the revised 2011 schedule will come out soon. Which means I’m scared to death.
As I’ve mentioned several times, I’m a 2011 guy. At the first sign of the offense and defense catching on to the new schemes this fall, I’ll start declaring a warm weather bowl for 2011. Why am I so high on the 2011 team? I thought you’d never ask. I know I’ve probably gone over this a half dozen times, but one more time won’t hurt.
As of today, we will be starting four seniors: Jarred Fayson, Randall Hunt, Clay Nurse, and Nate Bussey. (Some might list Eddie McGee as a starter, but I’m a traditional guy that only likes to list two wide receivers as starters.) Next year, Jack Ramsey can probably seamlessly replace Jarred Fayson, Jack Cornell can replace Randall Hunt, Whitney Mercilus or maybe Justin Staples can replace Clay Nurse, and Ashante Williams and Earnest Thomas will battle it out to replace Nate Bussey.
Probably the most seamless offseason I can remember. I’m probably more concerned about replacing Anthony Santella than I am about replacing any of the four players I listed above. So yes, my outlook for 2011 is rosy. (No, not Rose-y).
Another part of my excitement is the schedule. Missouri series over. Ohio State off the schedule. Eight (8!) home games, including a non-con foursome of Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, and Western Michigan. Heck, let’s look at the whole schedule in it’s where-have-you-been-all-my-life glory:
9-3 Arkansas State
9-10 South Dakota State
9-17 Arizona State
9-24 Western Michigan
10-1 Penn State
10-8 @ Iowa
10-22 @ Indiana
11-5 Michigan State
11-12 @ Michigan
11-19 @ Purdue
Awesome, right? Road games at Indiana, Purdue, questionable Michigan, and maybe-take-a-step-back Iowa. A decent slate of home games. And did I mention there are eight of them? I can’t remember an Illini schedule that was this fortuitous. It’s too good to be true, right?
It might be.
The above schedule has already been wiped clean on the official website. With the addition of Nebraska in 2011, the entire schedule has been tossed out. Well, not the non-conference slate. We’ll still start the season with four winnable home games. But after that, it’s all up in the air.
That feeling that just hit your gut? Yep – hit mine too. Here’s the scenario that scares me to death:
We struggle at the beginning of 2010. The new schemes, the freshman QB, the difficult schedule – it’s ugly for 6 weeks. But in the second half of the season, things start to take shape. We start winning a few close games, the players start grasping the new schemes more and more, and we finish the season on a little roll. We look around, realize that nearly everyone is coming back, and start ramping up for what might be a nice little 2011. Excitement returns, but then someone taps us on the shoulder and reminds us of the revised Big Ten schedule, which could read…
at Penn State
at Michigan State
at Ohio State
Ugh. I’m not gonna get to sleep for 3 hours now. This just feels like one of those “of course we replaced Indiana and Purdue with Ohio State and Nebraska – of course we did” things. After watching Northwestern – Northwestern – reap the benefits of weak scheduling for the last few years, we finally get a turn… and it might get pulled right out from under us before we have a chance to get excited about it.
What are the odds that Ohio State gets put back on the schedule? 94% chance? 96%? I don’t see any way we get lucky and avoid them on the second draw. And Nebraska? It just feels like an absolute lock that we’ll play Nebraska – probably at Nebraska – in their first Big Ten season.
I have to stop typing now. I’m depressed about something that hasn’t even happened.