2012 Quickview: Illinois Football
2011 Record: 7-6
Head Coach: Tim Beckman- 1st year
Returning Starters: 13 6-Offense 7-Defense
Nonconference Schedule Breakdown: The Illini nonconference slate is respectable…and by that I mean they play a legit D-1 school on the road…Arizona State (please don’t come at me about who is and who isn’t legit..)…but before that they kick off 2012 with a game in Champana vs probably the front-runner to win the MAC Western Michigan…I bet Alex Carder can’t wait to get the Illini at the Waldo…but other than that..Illinois gets Charleston Southern, who didn’t win a game last year and then Louisiana Tech who finished 2011 at 8-5.
Schedule Rank (in Big Ten): 3rd hardest…Illinois gets a break by whom they miss in 2012 (2 legit Legends title contenders)..but that is the only break they get…the Illini are 73-108 on the road vs the Big Ten teams they face away from Champana (Wisconsin, Michigan, OSU & Northwestern)…that folks..is not good..plus it has been a long time since a rookie coach won the Big Ten title…How long?…the answer later in the primer.
Who they don’t play in 2012: Iowa, East Lansing , Nebraska
The Skinny: as far as new coaches coming to begin fresh, Beckman gets a pretty decent gig here…good offense coming back and a defense that is missing a few parts but has the potential to be one of the better units in the Big Ten…unless he tries to recreate the wheel, Illinois should get to a bowl in 2012…
Toughest Game in 2012: October 13th at Michigan..the 2nd of tough back-to-back roadies (at Wisconsin the week before) will be enough to break any new coach…oh yeah….also consider that Illinois is 11-33 in Ann Arbor…
Best Player: QB Nathan Scheelhaase..if they would’ve brought back DC Vic Koenig this may have gone to DE Michael Buchanan, but until the Illini prove their defense is still good..I have to go with the 3rd year starting QB…and he also just happens to be one of the better ones in the conference..
What MIGHT happen: The Illini win the Leaders title…I know at least one person believes they will win it…but with the road schedule they have and a completely new coaching staff…I just don’t think it’s in the cards..but they might.
What WILL happen: They will win two of their five road games…all of which are vs legit D-1 football schools…
What WON’T happen: They will not finish under .500…this team has too much talent and that aside..Tim Beckman has a track record of winning…his biggest challenge is keeping the high level of recruiting that Zook had up…his coaching ability and Zook’s players should get them to a decent bowl game…
Why they won’t win the Big Ten: …because Illinois has to play the two toughest teams in its division on the road….and they won’t win either one..
Why they will win the Big Ten:…If Nathan Scheelhaase continues to improve not only his athletic ability and throwing the ball…but his game management skills too..if they do, this kid will be a great senior QB in 2013…
Gotta know about the Illini: Illinois is the only Big Ten team whose 2012 schedule has a cumulative 2011 W-L record under .500 75-78…Oh…and Gary Moeller shared a Big Ten title in his first year in 1990.
BOLD Statement:…The game that will derail the Illini’s Leaders title hopes will be a November 10th home loss to Minnesota.