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Illinois vs Rutgers: A Preview of Sorts

Creighton breaks down the “match of the week” because he has nothing better to do

Ball State v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Some of you may know this about me, but for those who don’t, my secret second favorite football team is Washington State. It goes back to how I always picked them in the NCAA Football video games, and is made sweeter by how utterly fascinating Mike Leach is.

I bring this up because I usually allow one week each year to fully embrace my inner Cougar: Iowa’s bye week. Unfortunately this year Wazzu plays on a Friday, and I’ll be on an airplane when they kickoff. Instead, I decided to do something a little different. I looked up and down for my “game of the week” so I could have something to look forward to apart from flipping back and forth between 3 random games. My game of the week? Illinois vs Rutgers. Wait, hear me out!

Alright first of all, there honestly aren’t any better matchups in the league this week. These are two teams looking for their first (and likely only) conference win. Both teams are trying to prove that they’re trending upwards, and neither wants to be known as the worst team in the league. Pending a surprising upset later in the year, this is the last good chance each team has at winning a game until 2018.

This handy preview will tell you everything important that you should know about #Road2PandemonIum2017. And by “everything important” I mean “actually you should just stop reading because it gets dumber from here on out”

Lovie Smith

Illinois v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images


  • As a former NFL coach, brings a wealth of experience when it comes to losing games at every level of the sport.
  • Has great calves and absolutely rocks shorts
  • Is already used to disappointing football fans in the state of Illinois
  • Already has Jeff George Jr throwing interceptions at an exceptional rate


  • Pulls off the bald look too well, makes other bald men feel threatened
  • Not nearly as amusing at Tim Beckman was
  • Name drops Brian Urlacher too much
  • Coaches at Illinois

Chris Ash

Ohio State v Rutgers Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images


  • As a native Iowan he is awesome by default
  • Has the adorable face of a lost puppy when he’s sad, so opposing coaches try not to run up the score too much
  • Has only lost to Eastern Michigan once
  • Is frequently confused with character actor Chris Ashworth, letting him avoid situations where he has to admit to being head coach at Rutgers


  • Honestly thinks Rutgers will be competitive some day
  • Walks up behind the cannon and thrusts every time he takes the field
  • Résumé contains several lies: his beagle never won best in show at Westminster, and he doesn’t actually know how to play Stairway to Heaven
  • Thinks his headset is haunted because the voice inside it repeatedly calls him a “fucking moron” during every game

Illinois’ Keys to the Game

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports
  • Pay close attention in the film room and learn which receivers Kyle Bolin throws the most incompletions at
  • Jeff George needs to go through his progressions and give the Rutgers secondary a chance to bust their own coverage
  • The offense needs to limit mental mistakes so they don’t embarrass themselves in front of dozens of fans in Memorial Stadium
  • Let Mike Epstein showcase his elite speed so he can transfer to a better program next year
  • If Janarion Grant is cleared to play, maybe don’t get your hopes up about this one

Rutgers’ Keys to the Game

Morgan State v Rutgers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images
  • Channel the shame the Jersey kids on the roster feel for being passed over by literally every other Big Ten school into something productive
  • Gus Edwards needs to have patience in the backfield and let the Illini linebackers take themselves out of position
  • Don’t spike the ball on fourth down this time. You guys remember when Laviano did that?
  • Limit costly turnovers by punting the ball on first down a couple of times
  • Don’t worry about pleasing the fans, as their expectations are already impossibly low
  • Practice the 2-minute drill a lot this week so that when the game is on the line, the players have the confidence it takes to go 3-and-out
  • I don’t know. Try a few tunnel screens or something

Important matchups

  • Lovie Smith’s clock management vs How clock management actually works
  • Chris Ash vs His father’s expectations
  • Illinois’ student section vs Literally anything else the students could be doing on a Saturday
  • Rutgers fans’ demands to start Jonathan Lewis at QB vs The crushing reality that it won’t make a difference
  • Mike Dudek vs Mike Dudek’s ACL


Why are you watching Illinois vs Rutgers?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    You’re too hungover to find the remote
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Lost a bet
    (4 votes)
  • 25%
    Can’t wrap your head around the fact that one of these teams will have a conference win
    (62 votes)
  • 4%
    Your roommate is a Rutgers or Illinois alum and you’re just trying to be polite
    (11 votes)
  • 25%
    You’re a dog and the family left the tv on to keep you company while they go out
    (62 votes)
  • 37%
    Would rather watch this game than give PJ Fleck the attention he craves
    (94 votes)
248 votes total Vote Now