SOC - Iowa

Nov 23, 2019

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I've never played craps. I've watched, and I get the basics, but I've never played. The majority of my craps knowledge comes from movies, and movies always present it one way - "he couldn't possibly do it AGAIN on his next roll, could he?"

That's where I'm at with this win streak. The Wisconsin game got some people around me at the end of the table. Purdue meant the crowd grew. Rutgers is the scene where the crowd is getting loud and I'm asking people to kiss the dice. And then Michigan State is basically the entire casino floor surrounding the table and cheering when they see what I rolled.

Which means the scene where we roll a seven is coming. It just has to be. There's no way we win six straight games to close out the season because we might win six straight games to start next season and that means if we win the bowl game we'd win 13 in a row and we're absolutely not winning 13 in a row my God people this is Illinois football we're talking about.

At some point, the turnovers dry up. At some point, we start turning the ball over again. I don't mean that in a "because we're Illinois" sense - I mean it as "because this is college football". When you lead the nation in turnover margin, a correction is coming. Always and forever.

And that's fine! We've cleared the big hurdle. We're going to a bowl game. I still want next week because I want my 7-5 to come true (and I think we absolutely win on this senior day for this senior class). I really hope we get a solid bowl matchup, win it, and go into the offseason talking about eight (EIGHT) wins.

But I don't think we'll go into the offseason talking about nine wins. That would mean we'd have beaten Iowa, and I just don't think we're beating Iowa. There's a reason this line started at 12 and grew to 15. It's not disrespect - it's "we're a team on the rise yet with serious flaws we're still working through, and they're the established, experienced team playing at home on senior day".

Just look at Iowa's losses. They lost:

  • At Michigan by 7.
  • Home to Penn State by 5.
  • At Wisconsin by 2.

A few plays here and there from being 10-0, ranked maybe 5th nationally, and playing for a playoff spot. No, I don't think they're a playoff team (they beat Purdue by 6 and Minnesota by 4 and Iowa State by 1, so we could play this game in the other direction), but I do think they're significantly better than us. We've gotten a lot better, but we lost 63-0 last year and I don't think we've made up that much ground since.

Next year - I'm calling it right now, next year we destroy Iowa in Champaign. That's our revenge game for 63-0. This year, I just don't think we're there yet. The turnovers were on our side, and with the turnovers on our side we beat Wisconsin and Michigan State, and when you combine that with the Purdue thrashing and the Rutgers second half, it means we're a much improved football team and headed for something great next season. But I don't think it means we're headed for a six-game winning streak this season.

It's funny - I basically wrote this same post for the Michigan State game, and when it was 28-3 with Michigan State at our 8 about to score again, I was patting myself on the back for seeing the inevitable coming. And then, well, you know...

So now it doubly feels like the inevitable is coming, right? Like, we have the sixth-longest winning streak among all Power Five teams. How is four games the sixth-longest streak? Because it's really, really hard to win a bunch of games in a row. Inevitably, you'll have a game where the turnovers go the other way and you lose resoundingly. It just happens.

Which means I see tomorrow as a loss. Perhaps the most acceptable loss for Illinois this decade. Bowl eligibility is wrapped up, we're on the road playing the 19th-ranked Hawkeyes, we'll go for broke with nothing to lose but come up short. We regroup, destroy Northwestern, and then spend an entire week obsessing over which bowl we'll go to. Sounds like fun.

If we do win tomorrow? Katy bar the door. That means we can start talking Gator/Outback/Holiday, it means we might win nine games, it means we might enter this offseason with more recruiting momentum than we know what to do with.

But I don't think it's happening. We're gonna roll a seven. And that's fine!

Iowa 27, Illinois 9


ktal on November 22, 2019 @ 11:02 PM

I think our ones can slug this out. But I don't know how many of them will be healthy. So this probably is more about depth. Do our threes know their reads? Because Stanley will pick any back that doesn't, apart.

But Peters looked like he suddenly understood how to read the defense late at MSU. Does that kind of "Now I can see it clearly" carry over to this week? Because if it does, we'll score through the air, repeatedly.

wesd2005 on November 23, 2019 @ 01:03 AM

I had been dreading this game after last year up until the last few weeks, but now I'm pretty excited for it. Getting that 6th win has taken almost all the pressure off.

I don't expect a win tomorrow, but we should be able to keep it close into the 4th. Key will be holding them to field goals when they have long drives and of course getting turnovers. Iowa isn't likely to turn it over the way MSU did, but we've been exceeding expectations all year so why not do it again.

ahamm445 on November 23, 2019 @ 01:26 AM

Pick a loss, expect a victory.... I see what’s goin on here. The reverse jinx is in play.

Efremwinters84 on November 23, 2019 @ 05:03 AM

Agree on all points. Put me on the record for a 31-17 loss.

If we do somehow add an Iowa road win to our 2019 resume, I'll consider it perhaps our luckiest year over the past 50 seasons.

uilaw71 on November 23, 2019 @ 06:51 AM

You da Man, Robert! You plucked those smelly, unwashed for six weeks, stinking socks out of the hopper, bet against the shooter, and we’re good to go! 26 - 20, Beloved win again!

No bowl, no tourney on November 23, 2019 @ 07:49 AM

Yeah, your score preduction seems right. Maybe add a TD to each team.

I'd like our chances a lot better if we didn't have an off week. Momentum like we had after the resplendent comeback at MSU is like a being on a chariot that's pulled by horses with flames coming out of their nostrils. You want to keep riding it at breakneck speed and not park it in the garage for a week.

Off weeks are great if you're banged up and need to get healthy. But if you're on a roll at the craps table, you don't go take 15 minutes off and go soak in the Vegas skyline and then resume throwing dice. It's not by choice for us, of course, but I'd kill to be playing this game 7 days after the Sparty slaying. I think the down time might quash our moxie.

But go Illini! Lovieball needs to keep popping footballs out on D!!!

Brave Illini on November 23, 2019 @ 08:11 AM

To me, the score and who wins isn't very important today. It is important that the Illini look prepared, play with emotion, and execute well. That will provide additional confidence that things really have turned, and our upward trajectory is really a thing.

Eagle on November 23, 2019 @ 08:44 AM

Before the Wisky, Purdon’t and Sparty games, I had a feeling we could do the impossible. This week I don’t. Like Brave, I’ll be happy if we just see great execution and fight.

Southernillini on November 23, 2019 @ 10:54 AM

I like the craps analogy. To further it, when we won that 6th game, we could pull most of our money off the table, guarantee a hell of a night and keep playing with house money. Pressure off, relax and enjoy! When was the last time we got to watch our Illini play a game without either an impending sense of doom or the resignation of another lost season?

I hope we play loose, take a few chances, and see what number the dice give us!!!

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