SOC - UTSA
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I'm really glad you people understand my shorthand. If someone just stumbled on this site today and read "SOC - UTSA" they'd have no clue what I was talking about. They'd probably try to pronounce it "sock utsuh" or something.
I guess some of you might not be familiar with what it means. And if this is your first time, you've clicked past the jump and you can still read because it's only your first click this month. So I'll try to explain it to you.
SOC - UTSA is an acronym we use around here. It means Springfield Or Champaign? - Uncle Tim Says Arcola.
I just totally made that up. I'm sorry. You're new. I shouldn't do that to you. It means Standing On Counter? Under The Sink, Actually.
I'm not really sure how to feel about this game. We're all thinking about the games like this we've lost in the past. There's something that makes this feel like this is one of those games again. It would be so us to beat Nebraska and then lose this game. I mean, I can list them off the top of my head:
- 2002 San Jose State
- 2006 Ohio
- 2008 Western Michigan
- 2012 Louisiana Tech
- 2015 MTSU had they made the field goal
- 2016 Western Michigan
- 2019 Eastern Michigan
In one sense, this feels like another one of those games. Especially since the line is down to -4.5. Home field advantage is usually three points so Vegas sees this game as Illinois being 1.5 points better than UTSA. Am I supposed to feel confident about a game where a plucky small-school opponent coming into Champaign is only a 4.5 point dog? I'm pretty sure we've lost to every plucky small-school opponent since the Clinton Administation.
In another sense, we told Nebraska how the game was going to go and then we didn't let them wrestle it away. We dictated last Saturday, and we never dictate. If we can dictate to Nebraska, we can dictate to a school with a bunch of 2-star recruits.
So I really don't know how to feel. I didn't get to watch camp this year so I don't have 1/5th the "feel" I usually do about what kind of team we have. I figured Nebraska would put us away last week, I had them winning 31-20. We won 30-22. So if we completely flipped that script, does that mean that 2021 will be The Year Of Flipping Scripts?
Like, the script for this game was written in the stars centuries ago. Illinois beats conference opponent, feels pretty good about where the season is headed, takes on plucky small-school opponent, and loses badly to kill all momentum built last week. I watched games like that in 1993 and I watched games like that in 2012. We all know what happens the moment we have the thought of "you know, if we win this one and then somehow win again next week, every single door is open to us". We 100% know what happens next. We all have the script framed on our wall.
But maybe I should lean into "The Year Of Flipping Scripts"? Maybe, since I don't have the "feel" I'd normally have, I should just take this entire season and go with the opposite of my gut. Pull a Costanza. My instinct is to think Illinois falls flat on its face after an emotional Week Zero win, so I'll go with the exact opposite and predict a win. That feels right for some reason.
I mean, it doesn't make any sense. Our QB is out, there's rain in the forecast, and it might be that sloppy, turnover-heavy game that has haunted us for decades. So I should lean into that, right? That's what we always see.
Or should I just say that we're flipping the script and will put away the opponents we need to put away? That's what we did last week, and this team does seem to have a really good vibe right now (even the player interviews feel different). I mean, I really should lean into that chart I made for the newsletter this week. Let me link it here for those of you who don't get the newsletter:
Look at all that old. Only one first or second-year player started the Nebraska game (Jer'Zhan Newton), 27 fifth and sixth year players made up the majority of the rotation, and even the third-year players only saw six guys find the field. Wouldn't it make sense for a team that old to be the one to flip the script?
OK, I need to try to stop talking myself out of this flip the script thing and just say that this team is flipping the script. Tomorrow is still a battle, and this is still a plucky opponent, but late in the game, we chew up clock, wear down their defense, and put the game away. Script flipped.
Illinois 38, UTSA 20