Bob Asmussen

Bob Asmussen

Asmussen | Suspended Illini due to return

Lovie Smith didn't say it Monday. But his team is about to get an infusion of talent.

Five suspended players — including three 2017 starters — are expected back for Penn State.

Maybe the most critical additions will be on the defensive side, where safety Bennett Williams and Nate Hobbs are on the way.

Bob Asmussen's Big Ten Power Poll: Sept. 17, 2018

On Mondays throughout the season, our 30-year college football writer weighs in on his favorite conference:

1. Ohio State (2)

Wonder what Urban Meyer did during his free time? The guess is he designed a bunch of new plays for the Buckeyes.

2. Penn State (3)

Asmussen | Painful, loss-heavy weekend forces Big Ten to re-evaluate

The Big Ten went 7-1 in the 2017 postseason, convincing everyone — me included — it was in the SEC's neighborhood.

Sorry to report, the Big Ten has been evicted. At least, for now.

After one of the worst weekends in league history, it is time for the conference to regroup. I've got a plan.

Sept. 16 Bob Asmussen Top 25

Illinois football beat writer Bob Asmussen is a voting member of The Associated Press Top 25 panel. Here is this week's ballot:

 

SCHOOL   PREV.

Asmussen | Home away from home? Not really for UI at Soldier Field

CHICAGO — Soldier Field is a historic building with great tradition. The home of the Chicago Bears is in a vibrant part of the city.

But Illinois should never play there again.

The latest in a string of mistakes by the lake came Saturday against a South Florida team begging to get beat.

If only ... the game had been at Memorial Stadium. As it was intended.

Illini Report Card: vs. South Florida Sept. 15, 2018

PLAYER OF THE GAME: South Florida quarterback Blake Barnett

Final word: New father Barnett balances life on, off field

CHICAGO — Does this sound familiar?

Playing at his fourth school (including a junior college) the quarterback is finally the full-time starter. AJ Bush Jr.? Yes, but also South Florida's Blake Barnett.

In two games, Barnett has thrown for 507 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception. He also has a team-best 122 yards and three scores as a runner. Impressive work.

Asmussen | Lovie sentimental about Illinois' trip to Soldier Field? Don't count on it

In my third year covering Illinois football coach Lovie Smith, I have come to realize he is anything but sentimental.

Still, I am stubborn and persistent. So I asked.

How does it feel to be going back to Soldier Field?

Smith didn't bite. Not even a little bit.

"I just don't hardly live in the past an awful lot," Smith said. "That's just not a real story to me."

Game day Q&A: 'We're trying to improve every week'

How did it feel to recover a blocked punt for a score?

It was surreal. I've seen it on tape. I feel like I did everything right.

How is the defense performing so far?

Top of the Morning, Sept. 14, 2018

He's been helping the Champaign-Urbana area see better for almost 40 years. Now, longtime Carle optometrist SCOTT OHL is riding off into the sunset. With his glasses on.

Later in the month, Ohl is retiring.