SOC – Minnesota November 10, 2012
Oh yeah, football.
When the football team is already bowl ineligible by the time basketball starts (and it’s happened a lot at Illinois), the changeover from gridiron to hoops happens so very quickly. In years like 2003, the changeover happened around midnight madness. Same with 1998. In other years, like 2010, for me, the switch isn’t until January.
By the way, this is a Stream Of Consciousness post, right? I’m going to change gears real quick. This demo phone that Verizon gave me (my job is to use it in my blogging endeavors and report back on it’s usability) has been a godsend tonight. Couldn’t connect to the wifi courtside? Set up a mobile hotspot on the RAZR M and continue doing my thing in press row with wifi linked through the 4G LTE signal. You know that commercial with the kid on the tuba? I kind of laughed at that commercial. And then that was me tonight. And now, in the hotel, with wifi crawling at a snail’s pace, guess what I’m doing? TUBA WIFI. PSA: If Verizon ever approaches you and asks you to demo a phone, DO IT.
Oh yeah, football.
My friend Dave and I talked about this tonight at Bamba. Probably the same conversation you’ve had with your friends this week. “So, do we… maybe… have a chance?” That’s how far Illini football has sunk. “Do we… maybe… have a chance?”
I think we do. But I don’t think we’re going to win.
Minnesota is only 85th in total offense – the worst offense we’ll have faced since Charleston Southern – so there’s a little hope there. After weeks of decent-to-good offenses, we get a Minnesota O with a true freshman QB and a few injured playmakers. So I think our defense can rebound a bit tomorrow. Maybe even have their best game of the Big Ten season.
But Minnesota has a solid D. Maybe even a “really good D”. They struggle a bit against the run, but they’re 10th nationally in passing defense. We’ll probably have to run the ball well to have a chance. And I’m just not sure we can run on them.
So I see this as a low scoring game. Their O struggles with our D, and vice versa. Which means this game probably comes down to turnovers, special teams, and penalties. Uh oh.
An another thing. When was the last time we beat Minnesota in Champaign. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Yep, 2010 was that inexplicable loss where they scored a touchdown with 15 seconds left. Yep, 2008 was that crazy game where we outgained them by over 200 yards but lost because we kept fumbling at our own 10. Didn’t play them in the mid 2000′s. 2003? Got killed 36-10. Would you believe 2001 is the last time we beat Minnesota in Champaign? Yes, they were God awful the last five years. And we never beat them in Champaign.
So with all of that, I just can’t predict a victory. I want to. My hopeful side wants to take over and cling to something that says “we’re not going to lose 20 straight Big Ten games or anything – we’ve already hit rock bottom.” I’d love to envision a scenario where this game DOES come down to special teams, and Terry Hawthorne’s returns are the difference. But I just can’t stay there. I feel like a late mistake dooms us against Minnesota at home again.
Minnesota 17, Illinois 13