I'm guessing that as the football season gets closer the optimism surrounding the program will increase. It's pretty much the natural order of things. When you come off a 2-10 season there's not going to be any hope, and during the offseason it doesn't really change. But then the season nears and you start fooling yourself into maybes and what ifs, as a defense mechanism as much as anything else.
Still, I think that even the most optimistic Illini football fan is still tempering those expectations. Personally, given last year's performance and this year's schedule, I feel like the absolute best the Illini could do this season is get to six wins and go to a bowl game. That's if everything goes right.
All I'm hoping to see is improvement.
But there's one person out there who is projecting the Illini to make a bowl game. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm -- the same Jerry Palm that projects the tournament -- put out his first bowl predictions for the 2013 season, and he has the Illini going bowling.
How terrifying would that be?
While it'd be great to know that the Illini won six games and were going to a bowl game, the prospect of playing Northern Illinois in said bowl game is something I hope never happens.
Because would you be shocked if Northern Illinois beat us? This is the same Northern Illinois team that was in the Orange Bowl last season, mind you. The same team that should have beaten Iowa last season and has pulled off upsets over teams like Wisconsin in the past.
We're having trouble beating Northwestern these days, losing to Northern Illinois as well would put a real damper on that whole "Our State, Our Team" thing.