Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gearing Up for the Game

The Illini football team left for southern California Christmas night. They clearly need time to settle in and develop a routine for the week -- not an issue for the local Trojans. They've seen the sites, met legends, eaten a ridiculous amount of prime rib, made classy impressions, and buckled down in practice.

College football fans around the nation have questions about the Fighting Illini and how they got to the Rose Bowl. They are 13.5 point underdogs -- the biggest spread in any post-season event. Do they have the speed to play USC? The strength? The coaches? Will Mendenhall go pro? When will Mike Locksley get a head coaching job?

We don't have all those answers yet, but with the Zooker, senior leaders like All-American Martin O'Donnell and J Leman, and the freshman confidence of Arrelious Benn, there is plenty of reason for optimism within Illini nation. Benn believes in the Illini -- and he clearly is comfortable that he choose the 9-3 Illini over the 3-9 Irish. And after all, will the Rose Bowl be any tougher than the Ohio State game? What we do know is that Ron Zook never stops coaching or recruiting. Since the Ohio State game, the 2008 recruiting class has improved significantly, so the Illini are gearing up for much more than just one Rose Bowl appearance to cap off an unbelievable season.

I'm gearing up, as well. My tickets are in hand, travel arrangements confirmed, and bag (almost) packed. I look forward to ringing in the Illini New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood with my Illini family. And I can't wait to watch the Illini play in January! See you in Pasadena...

Go Illini!

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