When you look at the 50-14 final score you know Illinois was blown out by Northwestern on Saturday. What that score doesn't show you though is that Illinois actually led the game 7-0. Nor does it show you that the Illini cut Northwestern's lead to 17-14 early in the second quarter.
That score doesn't show you how the Illini actually dominated play early but, as the Illini are wont to do, they kept shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers.
When the score was 17-14 the Wildcats had managed a whopping 78 yards of total offense. The Illini had 157 yards, with their opening scoring drive covering 78 yards by itself.
Then, much like the season after the Charleston Southern win, the wheels fell off completely. Northwestern would finish the game with 33 unanswered points and 372 yards of offense. The Illini would manage only 85 yards during that span. It was obvious in the third quarter that, much like many of the fans of this school and this football team, this team had given up.
Not exactly what you wanted to see from a defense that was stocked with a large portion of seniors and players who were playing in their final college football game. Some will move on to the NFL. Some will never play football again. All were ready to move on from their time as Illini.
And it's hard for me to blame them. A season like this one would wear on anybody.
That being said, there's only one place you can lay the blame for the attitude, and of course that's at the feet of Tim Beckman. It's absolutely no surprise that the rumors of his dismissal picked up so quickly following the loss yesterday. This was a game that Beckman had tried to present as a great rivalry since he got here. This was a game that Beckman tried to convince all of us and his team was our version of Ohio State and Michigan. This was against That School Up North.
And his team got beat 50-14. In the most important game on the schedule. Against its arch-rival. And it quit.
If that doesn't explain the entirety of Tim Beckman's first season in charge, I don't know what does.