If you are lucky enough to have made the trip to Champaign, Illinois in a past season, you know that you can smell the excitement there. Seriously, you can smell it. There's some kind of manure farm nearby, and you will spend the day wondering if the smell is there all the time, or if you showed up on a bad day. As someone that has made multiple trips to Shitsville, USA, I can tell you first hand that it's always there. This Saturday, with the 7pm local kickoff, that smell will have permeated our clothes, our hair, and our soul. I can't wait.
What you might not know, but may have inferred, is that the fans of the Illini and the student body hate us. It's as if we ruined their lives at some point in the past. In actuality, we haven't ruined anything...at least anything that wasn't already ruined...usually. In case there are hard feelings, allow me to apologize:
- For taking your 0-3 Big Ten record to 0-4 in 2004 by a score of 30-19. (Note: Mike Hart 234 yards)
- For taking your 0-3 Big Ten record to 0-4 in 2003 by way of a 56-14 nailbiter, on your way to a 1-11 mark for the season. (Note: 12 different Michigan receivers caught passes and John Navarre went 18-27 for 203 yards)
- For knocking you off 45-28 in your first Big Ten game of the season in 2002 before you went on to 5-7 glory. (Note: Bennie Joppru had 74 yards receiving...that's a tight end folks)
- For handing you 1 of 2 losses you had on the season in 2001. Wow, you were 10-2 in 2001! Your other loss? LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Amazing. So, ya, really sorry about that 45-20 pasting. (Note: Marquise Walker threw a 51-yard touchdown pass toJermaine Gonzales in this game....shame on you)
- For the refs not calling that Anthony Thomas fumble a fumble at the end of the 35-31 victory we had in 2000. You could have gone 6-5 instead of 5-6. That sucks. Also sorry for bringing in Drew Henson for John Navarre at the half. That did you in, as did the fake punt we ran. Yes, we ran a fake punt. Pretty sure that was the last time we did that. So, sorry. (Note: David Terrell had 6 catches for 116 yards, including a 57-yard Henson-to-Terrell special. Pretty sure that's the last offensive play we've had go for more than 50 yards.)
I guess that takes care of this century. I could go deeper, but the Wolverines are 65-21-2 all-time against the Fighting Illini. I'd end up having to apologize a lot.
- Illinois has 12 wins since 2004, and I'm including this "miracle" season's 5 wins in that totals.
- In 1997, while Michigan was busy perfecting a 12-0 season, Illinois was perfectly abysmal, going 0-11 on the year.
- Illinois has had 5 winning seasons since 1990.
- Illinois broke a two-year Big Ten losing streak with their 23-20 victory over Michigan State last year. At that time, it was also just their 2nd Big Ten win in four seasons. Just thought I'd remind you that Michigan State also sucks.
- There are 96 fraternities and sororities in Champaign, the largest Greek system in the world....outside of Greece, I imagine.
- The library system in Champaign is 3rd largest in the U.S., behind only Harvard and Yale.
- John Phillips Sousa called the Illinois band the "World's Greatest College Band" in the 1920's.
- Illinois is 5-2 on the season. Big wins include Penn State (27-20) and Wisconsin (31-26). Embarrassing loss: last week against Iowa (10-6).
- Illinois boasts the 8th best rushing attack in the country, which includes 45 yards per game from Isiah "Juice" Williams.
- Illinois has the nation's 22nd best scoring defense, allowing only 18 points per game.
- What are they bad at? Passing: 113th in the nation with 151 yards per game. Net Punting: 111th in the nation with 31 yards garnered per punt.
What do I think?
- Mobile quarterback of darker persuasion means they will score points, frustrate you by converting 3rd downs after we have the quarterback dead in our sights, and make plays that we never make. Juice is like Dixon without the whole passing thing. That passing thing is kind of important though, so maybe we can pull this out. However, I hate wounded animal games. Plus we have to play the wounded animal in their home cage, leaving the friendly confines for just the second time this season...and this ain't Northwestern boys. And just when I think all signs point to the Illini upset, I remember Mike Hart. Mike Hart. Mike Hart. Mike Hart.