Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Rossow: Illinois as a Ward winner at quarterback

After most home games, Dustin Ward slips unnoticed into a tailgate party thrown by friends of his parents on the west side of Memorial Stadium. He's been a guest of Gary Lovingfoss and Tim Bridges since he wore diapers, and his routine hasn't changed since he went off to college.

But when the Illinois redshirt freshman showed up late Saturday afternoon, he was greeted by applause from the group of about 20. He grabbed a sandwich, a soda and everyone's attention, his face turning an Indiana shade of red in the process.

Rossow: Credit mother with an assist on Illini recruit

Luther Head is playing in a basketball tournament this weekend in Baltimore.

Mom misses him dearly. His four younger brothers and sisters don't want the trip to end.

"They get his bedroom," said Head's mother, Bonnie Gallion. "Right now we're kind of short on rooms around here. Sometimes it's hard to find a place to sleep, but not when he's gone."

Cal punter wows ''em

   CHAMPAIGN  Chances are, most of the 50,181 fans at Memorial Stadium on Saturday had no idea who Nick Harris was before the Illinois-California game. In central Illinois, Cal''s punter can toil with the same anonymity as the person who reads your water meter.

   Yet, before the game was half over, Harris had the crowd buzzing, the Illini talking to themselves and a national television audience enthralled with a part of the sport that normally elicits a quick trip to the bathroom.

Adversity would do UI some good

If Illinois football has a problem, it's that success has come too easily this season.

Other than a separated shoulder here and a bad first half there, Illinois has had less to worry about than either U.S. basketball team in Sydney.

Rossow: As expected, Illinois delivers

SAN DIEGO – The most promising part of Illinois football has not been Kurt Kittner’s accuracy, Antoineo Harris’ threshold for pain, Greg Lewis’ ability to get open or Ron Turner’s knack to motivate.

It has not been the work of the offensive line, as big and ornery as there is in the country, or the hard hits doled out by the linebackers or even the sticky hands of the tight ends.

Rossow: Big Ten teams stay on their toes

Lon Kruger left for the NBA, Brian Cook left with Team USA and Cory Bradford left for Hawaii to collect, in order, a huge paycheck, international experience and NBA autographs.

Ron Guenther went golfing overseas and came back with a birdie in Bill Self, who two-stepped in from Tulsa to give the program a welcome energy boost. The big guys still are aching, the little guys still are shooting and recruits from Chicago finally are listening.

UI fan caravan rolls to game

   SAN DIEGO  They didnt converge in numbers like Nebraska had at Notre Dame, but Illinois fans made a respectable showing at Saturdays game. About 2,000 came to watch the Illinis first stop in San Diego since 1992.

   Illini fans are coming out of the woodwork. Youre going to see a lot more come out if we keep winning, Steve Katsinas said. It can happen as long as the university makes a sustained commitment.

Asmussen: Sure wins no longer easy to find

It’s about time we learned: There is no such thing as an upset in college football.

Toledo smacks Penn State. Cincinnati beats Wisconsin. Middle Tennessee hangs with Illinois for a half. Need any more convincing?

When the athletic directors in State College, Pa., and Madison, Wis., drew up the schedules 10 years ago, you can be pretty sure they wrote “W” next to Toledo and Cincinnati. Big, thick W’s. In ink.

Rossow: Kruger''s road show underway

Two things Lon Kruger misses most about Illinois: Memorial Stadium on a fall Saturday and Kirby Avenue on a Monday morning. Or Tuesday or Wednesday or ....

"The traffic here, if you catch it at the wrong time of the day, is awful," Kruger said from his downtown Atlanta office, where he's preparing for his first season as coach of the Atlanta Hawks. "It can take me up to 45 minutes to from my house to work.

Rossow: Atmosphere at Illinois will improve

The forecast calls for heat usually reserved for pizzas.

The schedule and Las Vegas indicate today's opponent would be better off playing somewhere else in the state, like in Charleston or Normal.