Daniels: What we learned during bye week
While beat writer and Eastern Illinois alum MATT DANIELS spent his bye weekend memorizing the Miami (Ohio) roster and gloating since his Panthers nearly won at Northern Illinois, here are three items he learned from Saturday:
Nathan Scheelhaase didn’t have a preference for who won the Cincinnati-Miami (Ohio) game. “We really couldn’t care less,” the Illinois quarterback said before Cincinnati escaped Oxford, Ohio, with a 14-0 win Saturday against the RedHawks. Doesn’t mean Scheelhaase wasn’t eager to watch how the winless RedHawks fared against the Bearcats, who are now 3-1. Mainly when Miami (Ohio) wasn’t scrapping out 87 yards of total offense against a Cincinnati defense that gave up 522 yards to Illinois. “I’m real anxious to see what they’re going to do in the Cincinnati game just because on defense I’ve kind of seen them do some different things,” Scheelhaase said. “Defensively, they’re trying to find out what suits them best, so the Cincinnati game will be really telling.” Miami (Ohio) has not overwhelmed opponents with its offense. Nor its defense. During its 0-3 start, the RedHawks have scored a combined 21 points. Essentially what Bill Cubit’s offense is capable of each half. Before limiting the Bearcats, Miami (Ohio) had seen Marshall and Kentucky pick apart its defense. The defense the RedHawks displayed against a Cincinnati team still trying to find its way without Munchie Legaux, however, might give Miami (Ohio) fans a bit of confidence before heading to Champaign-Urbana. Perhaps a smidge or two more, but Illinois should enter its next game at least as a double-digit favorite, a situation Illinois won’t enjoy once Big Ten play starts. And giving Cubit an additional week to add in new plays could only bolster an Illinois offense that has already exceeded expectations.
Gophers bowl hunting
Really. Minnesota is 4-0. Most of the focus surrounding Jerry Kill’s program is his health. Rightly so considering the seizures the former SIU and NIU coach has had during his career. But going into its Big Ten opener this Saturday at home against Iowa, Minnesota is only two wins away from becoming bowl eligible. Finding those two wins in Big Ten play, though, is the tricky part. Mitch Leidner looked like the running quarterback MarQueis Gray never developed into last season during Saturday’s 43-23 win against San Jose State. Yes, those Spartans are not the same as Michigan State, but San Jose State did go 11-2 last season and win the Military Bowl. If Minnesota’s offensive line can keep producing like it has, watch out. The Golden Gophers — who won’t play Ohio State or Michigan this season — might play in their first New Year’s Day bowl since 1962.
Bet Ron Turner wishes he was still in the NFL. Or at Illinois. Or maybe on a beach in Florida. Not wondering how he stumbled to become the coach at Florida International. Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman candidate. That’s a given. Turner and his Panthers sure helped the campaign with the 72-0 drubbing Bridgewater and Louisville put on FIU’s first-year coach. Turner and his offensive prowess were nowhere near Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Not even in the vicinity. The Panthers had 30 yards of total offense. The whole game. Trot out Rick Pitino’s hoops squad, and, going out on a limb here, but they’d probably produce more offense. Turner denied requesting having a running clock late in the game, but he was probably content seeing time run when it wasn’t supposed to. The good news for Turner? His 0-4 team doesn’t play this weekend.