Will Things Improve Next Season?

The face of mediocrity. - Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

The Illini went 2-10 this season. Can they beat that sad mark in 2013?

Okay, so my last article was incredibly harsh and negative. Not undeservedly so, but still. This season is officially in the past and I'm supposed to work on leaving the past in the past. So shall we take an incredibly early look at the 2013 schedule and how our band of misfits might fare? We shall, we shall.

Out of conference:

I hate Ron Guenther. We are not a consistent program. I'm not fully advocating the Bill Snyder method of scheduling only cupcakes, but it seems to work pretty well for him. One challenge game would be enough. Instead, we're looking at something a bit different. We open the season at home against Southern Illinois. Picking on one of the weaker directional schools in the state? Sounds about right. And then things go right off the rails.

The next game is at home against Cincinnati. Those very same Bearcats that have gone 8-3 so far this season with only a matchup against UConn standing in their way. Yes, that's 8-3 (likely to be 9-3) in the Big East, but that still translates to a likely loss for us even though we'll be at home. A week later we're the home team at Soldier Field against Washington. The Huskies went 7-5 this year with only an OT loss to Mike Leach's Washington State Cougars preventing them from ending the season on a five game winning streak. So there's loss number two. The final non-conference game? Miami (OH). When I first looked at the schedule, I thought this was the Hurricanes. This might actually be a winnable game. The RedHawks were basically Western Michigan this year. So we've hit two wins already!

Conference:

We open the conference slate in Nebraska. That will not be a pretty game. It also won't be a win. Two home games follow that though, with the second being Homecoming. Who are our opponents? Wisconsin and then Michigan State. Hooray! A trip to Happy Valley rounds out the first half of the conference schedule. The depth issues brought on by the sanctions will not have crippled Penn State yet. So we're looking at a 2-6 record having gone 0-4 in conference play so far. This is sounding horribly familiar.

We then travel to Indiana. I hate saying this, but I don't see this team beating the Hoosiers. I just typed that and wanted to die. The Buckeyes roll into town and keep our beloved Illibuck from returning to an environment more conducive to wooden turtles than the blighted landscapes of Ohio. Then comes the shortest road trip of the year in which we attempt to drag a cannon back across state lines. Unless Purdue hires their own version of Beckman, we lose. Holy shit, this is getting depressing. This is why I'm happy I'm a White Sox fan. Far less depressing. We close out the season playing Northwestern and having the good fortune to lose out on three trophies in three consecutive weeks. Hooray!

So what do we have?

There is a terrible danger that comes with hitting rock bottom. That danger is that you think things can't get any worse. And while they may not be able to get any worse, that doesn't necessarily mean things can only get better. They can also stay exactly the same. Which is how things look right now. Then again, the rumors say Beckman won't be around so who knows?

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