Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Rossow: Ain''t that a kick in the head?

PASADENA, Calif. – UCLA employs an annoying old-timer to roam the sidelines with a megaphone, urging thousands of tanned fans to yell as if a surfing contest is taking place.

So when John Gockman lined up to kick a 43-yard field goal that would have tied Saturday''s game in the waning seconds, the aging cheerleader had the Rose Bowl sounding like it does Jan. 1.

UI''s Beutjer picked, ticked

PASADENA, Calif. – He hit a high percentage of his passes. Just like he usually does. But the three that got away will be the ones that bother Jon Beutjer.

The Illinois quarterback had three interceptions Saturday night against UCLA. That''s two more than he had in Illinois'' first two games combined.

Rossow: Rose Bowl holds tight to tradition

Archie Griffin would rather donate one of his Heisman Trophy awards to Michigan than see the NFL mess with the Rose Bowl.

"I would hope, if they do something, they''d keep it a bowl," Griffin said. "Don''t make it look too different."

Rossow: For every Illini positive, there''s also a negative

CHAMPAIGN – Sorry to blow an inadvertent whistle on an otherwise splendid day at Memorial Stadium. But for each positive produced by Illinois against Illinois State, there was a negative lurking somewhere close by.

Like those fighter jets that zoomed over before kickoff. As exhilarating as the moment was, the pilots might want to clear the goal posts by more than a couple feet next time. Ears in the upper deck probably still are ringing this morning.

Illinois enjoys block party

   CHAMPAIGN – Derrick Strong did the hard part. All that was left for Travis Williams was to outrun one guy: the kicker.

   Done.

Rossow: Redbirds reserving reaction

   We know what will happen today if Illinois somehow loses to its Division I-AA guests. The coach will schedule a midnight practice. The players will ask Dwayne Smith how to transfer. And 6,000 angry Boy Scouts will storm the ticket office demanding refunds. Or at least candy bars.

   What we don''t know is how Illinois State will react.

Illini start orange, end blue

   ST. LOUIS – You wouldn''t have blamed the Illinois football players for thinking they had walked into the wrong locker room. Like the Denver Broncos''. Or Clemson''s.

   Instead of their usual home blue jerseys and orange pants, the Illini found nothing but orange waiting for them Saturday morning.

Rossow: Gutsy play''s a definite inspiration

   ST. LOUIS – He could order up even more orange, maybe some socks and shoes to match the tops and bottoms. He could gather the starters at South Farms and castrate to motivate, a trick that got the Mississippi State coach in hot water a few years ago. Or he could have the team give up its normal swank digs the night before kickoff for something more spartan, like Forbes Hall.

Opinions wanted

Starting this season, The News-Gazette sports section will produce an opinion page each Monday, and we need your help.

We''re looking for opinions from SportsFacts subscribers who regularly watch Illinois football games. Here''s how it would work: On Saturday, you''d watch Illinois on TV. On Sunday morning, you''d e-mail us a paragraph or two on what you thought about the Illini''s performance. On Monday, we''d run selected responses  including your name and hometown  on our opinion page.

Opinions wanted

Starting this season, The News-Gazette sports section will produce an opinion page each Monday, and we need your help.

We''re looking for opinions from SportsFacts subscribers who regularly watch Illinois football games. Here''s how it would work: On Saturday, you''d watch Illinois on TV. On Sunday morning, you''d e-mail us a paragraph or two on what you thought about the Illini''s performance. On Monday, we''d run selected responses  including your name and hometown  on our opinion page.