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B1G 2021, Illinois Potluck #3: Can Bret Bielema survive Year 1?

Why central Illinois and the Illinois schedule presents a heart attack in waiting for the man in charge of the ILL Family or whatever it’s called

NCAA Football: Missouri at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Saturday. Clearly the Potluck model has broken down. Turns out I can’t work multiple jobs at once and do them competently.

Sorry, Illinois. Thankfully, you’ve got Thump and HWAHSQB here to take you through the best of Illinois Week—be sure to check out their hard work in the sidebar and give them their well-deserved kudos in the comments as you pick Illinois to go 3-9.

But first, some food.

No way Bert’s heart survives Central Illinois, is there?

In the vein of diving back into the OTE Archives when I’m running out of ideas, we’re going to turn back to the finest culinary delicacy of downstate Illinois (specifically Springfield, I guess)

The Horseshoe Sandwich. From Wikipedia:

The horseshoe is an open-faced sandwich originating in Springfield, Illinois, United States.[1][2][3] It consists of thick-sliced toasted bread (often Texas toast), a hamburger patty, cheese sauce, and then french fries.

So, writers, here’s a buffet of questions, in honor of Bret Bielema:

  1. How many of these has Bert eaten since arriving at Champaign?
  2. Have you/would you? Tell me the story of when you made this horrible mistake or wonderful life choice.
  3. Design one, if you would like, in honor of your hometown or your school.

MNW: Good afternoon. Let us return to downstate Illinois and scenic Peoria, Illinois.

One of my good friends from undergrad went to the University of Illinois for med school before being farmed out to their Peoria campus, and man, that town was a good ol’ time. After trying to monopolize the stage at random Bradley karaoke bars and wandering up or down that massive hill (I think we also drove to Champaign and watched Northwestern get destroyed in Assembly Hall), we wandered downtown.

In Peoria, that’s a mistake.

But we wound up at Tricky Dick’s, aka Richard’s Pub and Grill, a garden-level restaurant home of the 4am steak for the finest drunks in all central Illinois. And it was there that I had a cheesy, disgusting horseshoe sandwich that soaked up allllll that booze.

Anywho, Bert’s probably eaten at least 5 since arriving. That is not the physique of a man who turns down a large hamburger patty smothered in cheese.

(Random thought: Is Eggs Benedict just a horseshoe sandwich?)

BoilerBettor: In short form, my answers.

  1. If this number is less than 75, I shall declare this the worst hire since Darrell Hazell.
  2. I’ve eaten some pretty awful combinations in my life. A half-chicken dinner with a full side of poutine at Swiss Chalet in London, Ontario is probably closest.
  3. Replace the hamburger with a breaded pork tenderloin from Nick’s Kitchen and that’s my hometown of Huntington, Indiana in a nutshell.

HWAHSQB: I grew up in central Illinois and I am both very familiar with and a true connoisseur of the horseshoe. I’m easily into triple digits on how many I’ve had and I even make them at home.

First of all, that picture is a ponyshoe, not a horseshoe. A horseshoe is TWO slices of texas toast, TWO hamburger patties, and the whole thing covered with fries and then cheese. If you only get one piece of bread and meat, you’re eating the “lite” version called a ponyshoe. Originally, you could generally get a choice of meat of ham, pork tenderloin, or burger. Nowadays, you can get a plethora of meats or even fish or portobello mushrooms. I like the version with buffalo chicken tenders.

The key to a truly delightful epicurean adventure versus a disgusting mess is the cheese sauce. The best horseshoes have a white cheese sauce with stale beer, worcester sauce, and a hint of cayenne that was the original recipe from Leland’s Hotel that invented this wonderful concoction.

I don’t have to design one because Champaign in the 1990s had a horseshoe adjacent invention that sadly is no longer available. The Haystack from the Home Stretch restaurant in Champaign was basically a breakfast horseshoe, with a base of two double stacks of pancake, your choice of heavily processed breakfast pork, topped with hash browns, then sausage gravy and cheese.

RockyMtnBlue: In inverse order:

3. I decline this ‘honor’

2. No.

1. All of them.

Kind of…: I will try that sandwich. I will try almost any foodstuff once. I prefer not to speculate about Bert’s eating habits, but O/U has to be quite high. I bet he still secretly pines for State Street Brats, though.

Green Akers: 1) I think we as a society are happier not knowing that, actually;

2) I haven’t, but in lieu of declaring ‘I would never!’ and calling for my fainting couch, I’m going to keep it real here and acknowledge that actually, given normal Midwest November weather, if I’d started tailgating at dawn, it’s an afternoon kick, I’ve been out in the elements for almost 12 hours and I’m moving from buzzed to mild hangover...I’d kill that thing and hide the body in a rest stop bathroom on the way home.

3) No need for architecture on my part, as Tony’s of Saginaw produces the honkin’ biggest steak sandwich you’ll ever see in your life. Doesn’t normally come bathed in cheese sauce, but look, we takes all kinds in the 989; whisper a discreet word to your waitress and she’d probably hook you up if that’s your kink.

And now...the picks and schedule.

And finally, after we’ve learned...really, that the identity of the 2021 Illinois Fighting Illini will be Bret Bielema memes (but also his schemes and some leftover Illini talents?), I guess it’s time to halfheartedly start a wheezy shuffle toward the Illini schedule and pick some stuff.

  1. Tell me this: How does Illinois finish in 2021? Be as graphic as you’d like and know these are completely binding.
  2. Bonus: Illinois-Nebraska was supposedly going to play in Ireland until, y’know, COVID. Has your team been involved in a bad-idea neutral site game? Would you like them to be? Where and why?

BoilerBettor: 1. Complete stab in the dark here. I’ll take 5-7.

2. Purdue plays Northwestern in Wrigley this season. Did they get the logistics of this figured out or are we still only going to go one direction for offense? I mean, I’m still planning to go because of my allegiance to Purdue and the Northsiders but I fully expect a shitshow of a game.

MNW: We’re now going in both directions at Wrigley Field, so enjoy paying $125 a ticket for that privilege. Be sure to enjoy the stale Old Style and the piss troughs! Fuck the Northwestern athletics department, man. Must be the worst thing they’ve done in years.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention 1991, in which Northwestern’s athletics department moved a home game against Ohio State to the Cleveland Browns’ stadium and sent the ‘Cats to lose in the Mistake by the Lake, 34-3, while wearing all-purple uniforms of the players’ choosing.

I see four wins as a floor here, unless BERT really sticks to that rigid, run-the-ball-50-times model of offense and refuses to adapt to whatever life throws him. Getting both Maryland and Rutgers on the crossover AT HOME is an absolute fucking gift, and if you piss this away, Illinois, I’ll be ashamed of you.

So let’s assume they lose one of those—do we think it’s more likely to be UTSA or Charlotte at home?—and pick up one elsewhere. Probably Northwestern in the curtain-dropper or Nebraska in the curtain-raiser. 4-8.

HWAHSQB: I’d probably set the O/U for Illinois wins this year at 2.5. I think the most likely wins are (in order) nebraska, Charlotte, maryland, rutger, and UTSA, all at home. I don’t think we’re competitive in any of the other games unless there is a massive storm when we play purdue and Brohm stubbornly decides to throw the ball nonstop anyway, or Paul Chryst stubbornly refuses to call play action against a defense with 9 men in the box selling out to stop the run, but what are the odds of that happening?

If I have to pick a number, I’ll go 2-10 with wins over nebraska and Charlotte.

Mike Thomas gave away home games against northwestern so we could play in front of a ¾ empty Soldier Field and prove that Chicago doesn’t give two shits about either one of those football programs.

RockyMtnBlue: Ok. As the first of many of these, I must start with a couple caveats:

  1. I didn’t exactly pay a lot of attention to big10 football last year after our week 2.
  2. It was pandemic football so even if I had I probably wouldn’t know anything about anything anyway.

That said, my entirely scientific, totally-not-pulled-from-my-ample-ass prediction is:

5-7 (3-6).

  • vs jNebby: 60%. I’d like their chances better if it weren’t the first game of the season.
  • vs UTSA: 100%. I had to look up what a UTSA is.
  • at Virgina: 20%. This is a tough non-con for the third game of a coaching tenure.
  • vs Maryland: 40%. Maryland being better than people think is bad for Michigan, so it’s going to happen.
  • at Purdue: 50%. Purdue’s offense is going to be fun to watch, but will they actually be any good?
  • vs something called the Charlotte 49ers: 100%. Usually I mock the scheduling of opponents like this. This year I’m jealous.
  • vs Wiscy: 10%. Maybe in a year or two. Not this year.
  • at PSU: 10%. Um. No.
  • vs Rutgers: 50%. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this game, but I know I’m going to be watching.
  • at Minny: 30%. Yes, Illinois, I get that this is insulting. This is the same Minny team that got smoked by one of the 5 worst Michigan teams in history.
  • at Iowa: 20%. See Wiscy.
  • NW: 40%. This might be low. It’s an odd-numbered year for NW, and Bert is going to take a rivalry game seriously.

Last year prediction: 3-6.
Last year actual: 2-6. I’m pretty sure I’d have been right on if OSU hadn’t chickened out.

In 2012 Michigan somehow agreed to be roadkill to eventual national champ Alabama in the soulless abomination that is Cowboys Stadium. We lost 41-14. But Notre Dame lost to Alabama that same season 42-14, so SUCK IT, NOTRE DAME!

Green Akers: Call it 4-8, I guess?

Several years ago, MSU hosted Florida Atlantic in Ford Field (home of the NFL Detroit Loins). Playing in Detroit is smart on paper; playing a third-tier team from Florida in Detroit is a head scratcher.

But, MSU also resisted Alabama’s demand a few years ago that we convert an agreed-upon home-and-home into one game in Tuscaloosa and one in Dallas or some other neutral site, and instead cancelled the series. This was one of those infrequent intersections of courageousness and judiciousness, where we both held against an unreasonable demand and also didn’t have to play Alabama twice, which would have come to four disintegrations at the hands of a non-conference opponent Nick Saban death machine in less than a decade.

Kind of…: I’m calling for 5-7/3-6 in B1G play with a fanbase that is stoked for year two, but also talking about a dicktrip that cost them a bowl appearance (Purdue or Nebraska will be cited).

RU in VA: I don’t really care about Illinois. Probably 34-47 and last in the Metropolitan. Canadiens win the cup.

WSR: Um… 3-9 (1-8)? They’re in a worse place than nearly everyone on their schedule. Transitions take time, and Bert’s going to need some to devolve the Illinois offense to fit his scheme. The opener against Nebraska will be can’t-miss for sickos, though.

Minnesota hasn’t played in a neutral site game yet, but it’s only a matter of time until some goddamn idiots get them into a game at US Bank Stadium. Fuck those idiots. Play home games at TCF Bank Stadium, road games at other college stadiums, and bowl games in sterile, plastic environments. GTFO with neutral site games.


Illinois’ final record is...

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    (3 votes)
  • 12%
    (15 votes)
  • 41%
    (49 votes)
  • 23%
    (28 votes)
  • 5%
    (7 votes)
  • 9%
    (11 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now