On this date 73 years ago today in University of Illinois football history — Sept. 27, 1947 — the defending Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions opened their season with a less-than-impressive 14-0 victory over the Pitt Panthers at Memorial Stadium

Top moments? Top performances? There were plenty of them. Beat writer Scott Richey highlights the best and brightest teams, coaches and athletes from the past 12 months on the Illinois athletics scene — and also looks ahead to what is sure to be an unprecedented year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

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Illinois athletics beat writer Scott Richey weighs in with his marks for all 19 Illini teams during the 2019-20 season

Cassie Arner is the associate athletic director for marketing, fan development and strategic communication within the Illinois athletic department. She's also a 46-year-old white woman who is the mother of a 16-year-old black son, Clevel, and has spent most of his life learning about what life is like from his eyes. 'I had to learn everything I could. I needed to be fully educated so I could understand and advocate for him.'

CHAMPAIGN — Fifteen more former Illini standouts representing nine sports and spanning more than a century of athletics will join 65 others when the 2020 Illinois Hall of Fame class is inducted on Sept. 18 at State Farm Center.

Our plan here at The News-Gazette is to profile every single senior athlete at Illinois. We’ll tell their stories. Their moments of triumph. Their moments of heartache. Their leadership. Their talents. Their path to Illinois.