A few weeks ago the Big Ten released the entire 2014 schedule, and to be perfectly honest, I'm not exactly optimistic about Illinois football in 2014 based on the schedule. Of course, things can change awfully quick in the world of college football.
Before the 2012 season began people were saying that Notre Dame had the toughest schedule in the country, but by the time the Irish were going 12-0 people were claiming they hadn't really played anybody.
Anyway, on Monday the Big Ten released the 2015 conference schedule, and this one is slightly kinder to the Illini than 2014, but it's still not all that easy. Now we don't know the entire 2015 schedule because the Illini still have two open non-conference games to schedule, but here are the games we do know.
9/5 vs Western Illinois
9/12 vs Kent State
10/3 vs Nebraska
10/10 at Iowa
10/24 vs Wisconsin
10/31 at Penn State
11/7 at Purdue
11/14 vs Ohio State
11/21 at Minnesota
11/28 vs Northwestern
So at least in 2015 the Illini get both Wisconsin and Nebraska in Champaign, and while the cross-divisional games are still against Penn State and Ohio State, at least the Buckeyes are coming to Champaign as well. And while the trip to Penn State won't be easy, let's remember, with the NCAA sanctions, Penn State may not quite be Penn State once 2015 comes. We really don't know what the long-term effects of the sanctions will be just yet.
Looking at this schedule two years in the future, though, I think it's safe to say the Illini are winning all of these games and going 14-0 en route to a national championship. Get pumped, you guys.