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Washington 34, Illinois 24: So Much For That National Championship

Don't let the score fool you, the game wasn't that close.

The start of things going wrong.
The start of things going wrong.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew the Fighting Illini would eventually lose this season and that this game was likely to be the time. But it still kind of hurts. After last week's dismantling of Cincinnati, hopes were running high and some people started getting dreams of pulling off consecutive upsets. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be.

The Illini didn't embarrass themselves at the Chicago homecoming game, but that's pretty much it. I shouldn't sound so dour about a game in which our boys beat the spread, but I feel like that was more a function of Washington not capitalizing on opportunities instead of Illinois actually doing much of anything. The Huskies grossly outgained the Illini 514 to 296. When that happens you're going to lose 99% of the time. Not everyone gets to be the Miami Hurricanes from last weekend. To the bullet points!

Il Buono:

  • Jonathan Brown continues to be everywhere. Brown was the only player on the defense to have a truly good game, which will hopefully change in the coming weeks.
  • For the second straight week, the Illini won both review booth challenges on fumbles. Whichever rich alumni is paying off the booth official (I'm looking at you, Hef), please continue to do so.
  • Aaron Bailey scored another touchdown because he cannot be stopped and why are you foolish enough to believe he can be?
  • Highlight of the game? Could be the 72 yard touchdown pass off of play action, but I'm going with the Statue of Liberty play to Josh Ferguson in the 1st quarter. Bill Cubit, I love you.
  • Resiliency. Last year this team had absolutely none. They would get down and stay down. They were down 21 points in the third quarter but got up at the eight count and punched until the end.

Il Cattivo:

  • The defense just could not stop anything Washington did after half time. The Huskies ran basically the same play seven times to start the second half and it was painfully effective. Tim Banks has a lot of work to do with his young squad.
  • The offensive line didn't do very much to protect Nate Scheelhaase from dying and it noticeably affected the passing game. We're not going to win games that he gets sacked four times in.

Il Brutto:

  • One of the main reasons Washington drives wouldn't end? The Illini secondary can't tackle. They bite on jukes and do not wrap up and it burned them multiple times tonight.
  • When Scheelhaase gets hit a lot, he gets very gunshy and starts throwing terrible passes. We hadn't seen much of that this season, but old Nate reared his ugly head tonight. He just didn't look comfortable at any point, only completing 9 of his 25 pass attempts for 156 yards and one touchdown. Hopefully the off week will help him get his mojo back.

Losses suck, but back in August did anyone think we'd be 2-1 after the first three weeks of the season and only lose to a very good Washington squad by ten points? I didn't. Things are still looking up and this Illini squad should have no problem with a terrible Miami (OH) squad in two weeks. It will be September and we'll have more wins than last season. It could be worse.

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