SOC - Rutgers
Man, I'm gonna need to race through this one so I can finish before I fall alseep. Eyes started to really get heavy at the end of that basketball post there, so I got up, walked around the hotel room, got a drink of water, and now I'm going to power through the Stream Of Consciousness.
Let's start with a request from last week. Someone asked me to list how I've done with my predictions this year (given that I've predicted two losses in a row and we won both those games). I don't know where I'm at straight up, but I do know that I'm 6-2 against the spread this year. The games I missed: Eastern Michigan and Purdue. I had Illinois covering against Akron, not covering against UConn, covering against Nebraska, not covering against Minnesota, covering against MIchigan, and covering against Wisconsin. Tomorrow... I'm still not sure.
The comp for this game is the easiest comp in history (and it's frightening). This is the 2010 Minnesota game. I mean, the two games are nearly identical.
- 2010 Illinois is surprisingly good. After 2009, we thought 2010 would be really bad but then we're suddenly decent. Won at Penn State, beat Indiana and Purdue back-to-back, nearly win at Michigan (lost in 3OT), and then come home to play 1-9 Minnesota with a chance to clinch a bowl bid.
- That was Tim Brewster's fourth year at Minnesota and he didn't survive the season - he was fired after a 1-6 start. So not only is it a bad Minnesota team coming to town - it's a "coach fired, team quit" bad team.
- I don't know where you look up historical lines but I swear Minnesota was a 3 TD underdog.
- Even though the whole conference thought they had quit (and they were playing like it, having lost nine straight), the Minnesota players saw Illinois as a chance for a Big Ten win. The old "it was their Super Bowl" thing.
That's the same as tomorrow's game. We're better than many expected. We're supposed to roll. Rutgers fired their fourth-year coach and are reeling. But we represent a chance for them to get at least one conference win.
And then I watch stuff like this and I lose my mind. Here, click on the link here and go watch this video on Twitter:
"We're just taking care of business."
-- Illinois on BTN (@IllinoisOnBTN) November 1, 2019
Do you not lose your damn mind watching that? Is it not so incredibly uncomfortable to hear Illinois talked about in that way? It feels like the biggest set-up in history. It's the most "Lucy will certainly hold the football" of all time, right?
So that has me scared. But on the flipside, Rutgers is really, really bad. That Minnesota team in 2010 at least had Adam Weber at QB and a decent tailback (can't remember his name, but he couldn't be stopped on that final drive). I know they had played USC close that year, plus several other games. I should just look this up.
2010 Minnesota lost to USC by 11, lost to Northwestern by one, lost to Purdue by 11, to Penn State by 12. They also beat a ranked Iowa team the week after they beat us.
2019 Rutgers has played five Big Ten games and they've lost 30-0, 52-0, 48-7, 35-0, and 42-7.
OK, so maybe I need to stop worrying about this one. Maybe I need to stop comping 2010 Minnesota. Minnesota finished the 2010 season being outscored 272-172 in Big Ten games. Rutgers is currently being outscored 207-14 through five conference games. There's a reason this line is 20 points.
What do I want to see tomorrow? Continued defensive improvement, establish the run game even more, and find something in the passing game that might work against Michigan State and Iowa. If we win tomorrow, I really don't want to go into the Northwestern game needing a win to go to a bowl. I want to take care of business and then shock either MSU or Iowa so that Northwestern is just playing for a better bowl or something. I know I say this every time we're 5-6 going into the Northwestern game needing a win to bowl (2014, 2015), but I'm not sure I'd be able to watch. 2014 turned out to be fun; 2015 was a nightmare (and it was also the day that the words Not Ideal were uttered).
So I think I'll settle here. I think we win. But I'm not sure we cover. Feels like Rutgers gets a backdoor score and we come up short of 20. Put me down for...
Illinois 38, Rutgers 20