Friday, August 29, 2008

Let the Season Begin!

Football season is (finally) upon us! The Illini will face off against Mizzou in what will likely be the most interesting game of the first Saturday of the 2008 college football season. The Edward-Jones Dome in St. Louis will host a 50/50 (or 60/40?) crowd.

Missouri is ranked #6 (AP) or #7 (USA Today) and has a strong core of 2007 starters returning for this season, including potential Heisman Trophy candidate QB Chase Daniels. They spent a few weeks ranked #1 last season, but missed out on a BCS bowl. They have national title aspirations to go with their 8.5 point advantage in the spread in the opener.

Illinois is ranked #20 (AP) or #19 (USA Today). We are ranked at the beginning of the season! And the Illini have solid starters returning, including Juice Williams at QB. According to last year's graduating seniors, many of the new starters are more atheltic than those they are replacing. But the Illini are waiting to see who will fill the gaping holes in the intangibles, like leadership, attitude and perseverance. But expectations are sky-high, and why shouldn't they be? We played in the Rose Bowl, after all! The Fighting Illini are coming off one of the greatest turnaround seasons ever, capped off with a surprising and competitive Rose Bowl performance. And while we may not make it back to Pasadena, a New Year's Day bowl is possible.

And both teams remember the 2007 meeting. Mizzou took a big lead, but even with Juice on the sidelines, the Illini staged an impressive comeback to fall just short of beating the Tigers when McGee threw and interception in the end zone as the clock ran down. And that was when expectations for the Illini were still just aimed at a winning record and a bowl of some sort.

What will this year bring? Mizzou has the advantage in many categories, but the Illini have a lot to prove. Watch for Juice, Regis, Martez and Vontae to go all out to prove that the Illini are NOT just a one-year wonder, but a program on the rise. I expect a competitve game, and I believe the Illini are very capable of pulling the "upset."

I look forward to the first look at the 2008 Fighting Illini football team -- and the best Week 1 QB matchup in the country.

Go Illini!



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tom Brady and the murky world of sports handlers

I've always thought the world of sports handlers was pretty dark. This article confirms it.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Congrats... Deron and the rest of the USA Men's Basketball on winning the gold in Bejing!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

In the Good Ole Summertime

We've been on something of a summer vacation here at Illinitalk. Between new babies, work, weddings of family and friends, the Cubs and more, we haven't found much time to write. Our apologies. While I won't attempt to cover all that's happened in Illini sports, here are a few highlights:

With football season quickly approaching, the Cubs in first in the NL Central, and plenty of Olympics to watch, there's a lot to be excited about. But perhaps the biggest highlight for me -- tomorrow I should be able to watch the Big Ten Network from the comfort of my living room. I can hardly wait!

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