Monday, November 05, 2007

A Picture of Progress

On the first play of Saturday night's game, Vontae Davis and the Illini made one point clear. They are no longer in the basement of the Big Ten. The Davis interception was soon followed by an impressive 47-yard TD pass from Juice to Jacob Willis, and the Gophers continued to struggle all night.

After posting the lowest 4-season winning percentage in the conference, the Illini have turned a corner. The Penn State win marked the beginning of something special in Champaign, but the resounding victory over the current conference bottom-dwellers underscored just how far the Illini have come. (But take heart, Gopher fans, and give your new coach a couple years before you give up on him -- you won't be at the bottom forever.)

Juice showed off his arm with a couple beautiful TD passes. Rashard Mendenhall took advantage of a weak run defense to take over the Illinois single-season TD record at 16 (and counting). Then Rashard stepped back to let his brother Walter have a turn. Jeff Cumberland also had a great game that included a TD.

Now alone in third place in the Big Ten, the Illini are guaranteed a spot in one of the bowls committed to the conference. They looked great this weekend, and I plan to savor this for a day or two before thinking too much about #1 Ohio State next weekend.

Go Illini!

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