By now it must have occurred to Illini basketball fans what their favorites are up against. It’s a nasty, unscrupulous world out there.
And for all those who get caught with their hand in the cookie jar — the 2015 year opened with 18 Division 1 schools dealing with academic fraud alone — don’t you wonder how many cheat and get away with it?
Nebraska’s once-mighty Cornhuskers, now 2-3, are human again... it just took the Illini a little longer to figure it out.
No apologies needed, Illinois outplayed Nebraska. Let’s start there.
These are the games that count. As Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said in anticipation of today’s clash with Iowa: “That’s why athletes comes here, to play in the Big Ten.”
From the days of 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier through last year’s super-back Ameer Abdullah — and including the likes of infamous Lawrence Phillips (now in prison) and Packers all-time leading rusher Ahman Green — Nebraska established a reputation for a crushing ground attack.
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois was an offensive dynamo in the midfield area Saturday. Dominant at times. Run-pass impressive.
But as happened at North Carolina, where the UI visitors produced zero points on drives to the 2- and 7-yard lines, the Illini haven’t solved the red-zone enigma.
The clogged nature of things near the goal line has them flabbergasted.
If you’re going to throw the football, somebody better catch it.
Drops weren’t the only problem in last week’s 48-14 loss at North Carolina, but when the Illini are building a reputation, they need to excel at what they’re known for.
Passing. It is their salvation.
If Jon Gruden is your bombshell guy — the “answer” for Illinois football — he was last seen fronting for Hooters and hasn’t coached since 2008.
Besides, just to start negotiations, it would take $4 million or $5 million for many, many years ... and he wouldn’t be interested anyway. So cross him off.
Interim coach Bill Cubit finds himself battling new Illini rivals this week.
Negativism. Mental blocks. Doubt.
These can resemble snowballs if allowed to feed on each other, as we saw during the late stages of North Carolina’s 48-14 romp Saturday.
The outcome brought out the “here we go again” crowd as the worst UI football fears were realized.
Bill Cubit’s athletes were all thumbs and stumbles Saturday as this veteran squad inhaled an all-too-familiar dose of football disappointment.
So let’s keep this short.
Illinois’ 48-14 loss did not come at the hands of a goliath.
Illinois is battling not only a favored football opponent in North Carolina today but history as well.
In 16 nonconference, non-bowl excursions since 2002, the Illini won once at Syracuse in 2007 ... the road losing streak in these games reaching eight. Dating back another 10 years to 1992, the Illini show four successful trips and 22 failures.