Sports Editor Matt Daniels breaks down the revised 12-game slate in place now for Bret Bielema’s team after the Big Ten made changes Wednesday:
Aug. 27 vs. Wyoming
The game was initially supposed to take place Sept. 17, but was moved to Week 0 last summer. And it’s not exactly a gimme Illinois wins against the Cowboys — who went 7-6 last season and are receiving $1.1 million to play in Champaign — in the first-ever game between the two schools.
Sept. 3 at Indiana
Illinois makes its first trip to Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., since 2013 in a new game added to the schedule on Wednesday, replacing a previously scheduled Oct. 15 game at Penn State. Indiana started out last season ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 only to finish 2-10.
Sept. 10 vs. Virginia
The return game against the Cavaliers wasn’t one of the changes on Wednesday. Although Virginia and its pass-heavy quarterback Brennan Armstrong will have a first-year coach roaming the sidelines in Champaign in former Clemson assistant coach Tony Elliott.
Sept. 24 vs. Chattanooga
Mark it down as a win. Illinois is 16-0 all-time against FCS programs as the Mocs come off a 6-5 season in 2021.
Oct. 1 at Wisconsin
Initially slated for Sept. 3, Bret Bielema’s old school will have played four games before the Big Ten West foes meet at Camp Randall Stadium. Bielema went 44-5 at the venerable venue in Madison, Wis., but Illinois hasn’t won at the 105-year-old building since 2002.
Oct. 8 vs. Iowa
It’s the earliest the two teams will meet in Champaign since Iowa — winners of eight straight in the series and slated to originally visit Nov. 12 — beat the Illini 24-7 on Sept. 23, 2006.
Oct. 15 vs. Minnesota
Only a slight tweak in P.J. Fleck and his oars returning to Champaign since the Gophers were previously scheduled to play the Illini on Oct. 8. Illinois will try for its first win streak in the series since Lou Tepper’s teams won three straight from 1993-95.
Oct. 29 at Nebraska
Illinois has never won three straight games against the Cornhuskers — who they were supposed to play Nov. 19. The current two-game win streak the Illini are riding matches the wins in 1923 and 1924 by Red Grange’s teams.
Nov. 5 vs. Michigan State
The Spartans are the only Big Ten team Lovie Smith went undefeated against in his five seasons at Illinois. Michigan State, which was slated play here Oct. 1, has lost its last two games to the Illini: 31-27 in Champaign in 2016 and the 37-34 comeback by the Illini in East Lansing in 2019.
Nov. 12 vs. Purdue
The Boilermakers, who own a 7-3 record in the rivalry since the 2012 season, were supposed to bring the Cannon back to Champaign on Nov. 5, but instead will host Iowa on the first Saturday in November.
Nov. 19 at Michigan
Since Rocky Harvey’s famous touchdown dive in 1999, the Illini are 1-5 at the Big House. The Wolverines, initially supposed to host the Illini on Oct. 29, will welcome in Illinois to its 107,601-seat venue a week before The Game now.
Nov. 26 at Northwestern
The only original date and opponent on the 2022 schedule to stay the same for the Illini, this will mark the 11th straight season the two rivals will end the season playing for the Land of Lincoln Trophy. Illinois is only 2-8 against the Wildcats in that time span.