Illini, Toledo to meet in 2023

Illini, Toledo to meet in 2023

Tim Beckman arrived at Illinois in 2011 after coaching at Toledo.

The Beckman experience with the Illini didn't end on a high note, with the school firing the former Illinois football coach a week before the 2015 season started after an investigation of player abuse found Beckman culpable of said allegations.

That's about the only connection the two football programs had.  Until Thursday.

Illinois announced it will host Toledo on Sept. 2, 2023, one of three nonconference games on the schedule that season that already includes a game on Sept. 9, 2023 at Kansas.

The game with the Rockets will likely be the season opener that year for the Illini, who have never played Toledo in football.

The Rockets play in the Mid-American Conference and won the MAC last season en route to an 11-3 record that included a loss in the Dollar General Bowl.

After Beckman left Toledo, his former assistant coach Matt Campbell took over the Rockets. Campbell guided Toledo to a 35-15 record from 2012 to 2015 before Campbell accepted the job at Iowa State.

Jason Candle has kept the recent run of success going for Toledo, going 21-7 in the last two seasons for a program that has played in four straight bowl games.

Illinois has gone three seasons without playing in a bowl game, with the last postseason game taking place at the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl. Illinois lost 35-18 to Louisiana Tech in what ended up being Beckman's last game on the Illini sidelines.

Two former Illinois assistants who were with Beckman, former Illini wide receiver Mike Bellamy and Mike Ward, are on Candle's staff with the Rockets. Bellamy coaches Toledo's wide receivers in his second season with the Rockets and Ward coaches the linebackers, where he's entering his third season in his second stint at the school.