Few people anticipated Illinois would sit at 2-1 heading into its first bye week of the season. You ask Illinois fans a month ago at this time if they would take the record, and the obvious answer is yes.
Beat writer Matt Daniels' take on Saturday's game:
What it means
Illinois still doesn’t own Chicago. Or playing teams from Washington in Soldier Field. Illinois fell to 0-2 all-time in those categories with Saturday’s defeat. Few people anticipated Illinois would sit at 2-1 heading into its first bye week of the season. You ask Illinois fans a month ago at this time if they would take the record, and the obvious answer is yes. Playing poorly at times on Saturday and playing brilliantly on other occasions. The defense needs to show improvement, but chances are Washington will pick apart opponents all season with Keith Price and Bishop Sankey in the backfield.
Illinois had its first four drives of the game enter Washington territory. All the Illini had to show for those possessions were three points. Not going to cut it against teams like Washington. Even when the Huskies are trying to hand Illinois the game with bone-headed penalties. Washington’s offense awoke in the second half. So did the Illini’s. The consistent performance Illinois put forth against Cincinnati wasn’t there, but it is encouraging with the way Illinois kept the fans interested well into the fourth quarter.
Rest. Recuperation. Illinois coaches will spend most of next week out on the road recruiting. It’s what bye weeks are for. And regrouping. The Illini will certainly need to do some of that after Saturday night’s loss. The season isn’t a loss by any means, not with Miami (Ohio) coming to Champaign in two weekends. Ilinois will need to take advantage of its opportunities moving forward, an aspect it did too little of at Soldier Field, if it wants to head into Big Ten play with a winning record.