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Sideline Fighter II: Lovie Smith fights his way to the top of the Big Ten Conference

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Here Comes A New Challenger!

Football recruiting is really going strong...for other members of the Big Ten. For the Illinois Fighting Illini, things are mostly quiet. Lovie Smith has only been on the job for a month and a half now, but it's apparent that he's got his work cut out for him and it's a long way to the top. He hasn't yet established that he's the greatest coach in the Big Ten and won't coach a game until the fall. You know how he could put everyone on notice? By defeating his Big Ten counterparts in single combat.

But what's the best format? Boxing? Wrestling? MMA? Sumo? (Tracy Claeys would have too much of an advantage) No, in a tribute to how unrealistic this would actually be, I'm envisioning this playing out like Street Fighter II.

P1: Lovie Smith

Attributes: High Defense. Good strength. Average speed. Well-rounded, if not flashy.

Special Abilities:

Ground Pound: Lovie's bread and butter offensively is a good ground game. Use this attack repeatedly to keep your opponent on his toes.

Deep Bomb: From Rex Grossman to Jay Cutler to now Wes Lunt, Lovie has deployed quarterbacks willing and able to sling it 50 yards down the field. Catch an opponent unprepared and inflict massive damage!

Orange Krush: Lovie's Ultimate Technique in which he convinces Illinois basketball fans that the opponent bad-mouthed Illini hoops on the internet. Watch a frothing, rabid sea of orange devour your foe!

*****

Stage 1: Tracy Claeys

Attributes: High defense. Low speed.

Special Abilities:

Dilly Bar: It's never too cold for this projectile-based attack

Leidner Punch: A wildly inaccurate physical attack

Strategy:

One of the less intimidating physical specimens, I can't help but think that in real life, Tracy Claeys could easily be dispatched by Lovie. Use the punches, use the kicks, but don't attempt a throw or you might hurt yourself. Lovie wins!

win claeys

Stage 2: Mike Riley

Attributes: Average across the board.

Special Abilities:

Clock Management: Deals and receives triple damage with single digits left on match timer. May backfire.

Bicycle Kick: Years of riding his bike to work have inspired him to take a page out of Liu Kang's book.

Strategy:

Pressure to be nicer than Bo Pelini makes Riley less ferocious in combat. Therefore, a sustained assault with punch combos to set up the Deep Bomb finish is all that's required. Lovie wins!

win riley

Stage 3: Paul Chryst

Attributes: Above-average offensive rating. Good alcohol tolerance.

Special Abilities:

Hand of Barry: Athletic director Barry Alvarez does what he does best and intervenes in his coach's affairs to throw a punch

Strategy:

Keep blocking until his top runningback fist suffers an inevitable injury. Ground Pounding won't work here, so set up the Deep Bomb and execute it. Lovie wins!

win chryst

Stage 4: Kevin Wilson

Attributes: High offensive rating. Cannot block.

Special Abilities:

Airstrike: Projectile attack!

Air Raid: Super projectile attack!

Strategy:

Attacks must be timed with care to ensure the ability to block his projectiles. He's vulnerable to a well-executed Ground Pound. Lovie wins!

win wilson

Stage 5: DJ Durkin

Attributes: Gathers energy quickly. Good defensive rating. Looks much older than he is.

Special Abilities:

HARBAUGH: Invokes the name of former boss Jim Harbaugh, causing his opponent to cover his ears. Everyone's sick of hearing about him.

Strategy:

A relative newcomer, little is known about this competitor. Standard attacks will work, but watch out for getting distracted by residual HARBAUGH buzz. Lovie wins!

win durkin

Stage 6: Darrell Hazell

Attributes: Actually is in pretty good shape. Alternates between rage and sadness.

Special Abilities:

Headbutt: Attacks with his oddly creased hat brim

Strategy:

It's probably best to just use standard attacks and wait for him to self-destruct. Lovie wins!

win hazell

Stage 7: James Franklin

Attributes: High speed. Easily confused. Very loud.

Special Abilities:

Taunt: Pisses people off

Strut: Restores health if executed successfully

Strategy:

Punch him in the face when he starts any of his special abilities. Hit him with the uppercut. Lovie Wins!

win franklin

Stage 8: Chris Ash

Attributes: Extremely hairy. Good defense. Very good at making sad faces.

Special Abilities:

Pikachu Assist: Ash summons his best friend Pikachu to deliver a Thundershock. Ash wants to be the very best, like no one ever was.

Spinning Piledriver: From hairy compatriot Zangief

Strategy:

Attack from a distance; you don't want to get too close to the wool. The Deep Bomb will work wonders here. Lovie wins!

win ash

Stage 9: Kirk Ferentz

Attributes: Slow and steady. Not a risk-taker.

Special Abilities:

Punt

Super Punt

Strategy:

Depending on the year, could be easy or very difficult. Finding a way to deal with the Punts is the key. Lovie wins!

win ferentz

Stage 10: Pat Fitzgerald

Attributes: Smug. Very little offensive ability. Good on defense.

Special Abilities:

Tribune Smear: A Northwestern graduate takes a shot at Illinois in the media

Imaginary Car: Vroom Vroom!

Strategy:

Keep guard up, don't listen to Greenstein. The most satisfying thing to do would be to back him into the edge of the screen and hit him with a cheap facepunch combo that becomes unblockable. Noob move, but the imagery of punching Pat Fitzgerald in the face repeatedly would redeem it. Lovie wins!

win fitzgerald

Stage 11: Mark Dantonio

Attributes: High defense. Permanent scowl. Able to block and counterattack effectively.

Special Abilities:

Shoulder Chip: Has an infinite supply of chips on his shoulder, so he can throw them at you forever.

Trick Play: A Dantonio appears above you, in front of you and behind you. Which is the real Dantonio?

Strategy:

A tough one. Read and react and throw the Deep Bomb when you can land a couple shots. Lovie wins!

win dantonio

Stage 12: Jim Harbaugh

Attributes: Is absolutely crazy. High defensive and offensive stats. Yells his attacks very loudly.

Special Abilities:

Tantrum

Shinku Tatsumaki Senpukyaku: Who does it better, Harbaugh or Ryu?

Strategy:

Wait until Harbaugh spins around in one of his tantrums, then strike with all you have. Lovie Wins!

win harbaugh

Final Stage: Urban Meyer

Attributes:

Urban Meyer is the end boss with unfairly high stats on offense, defense, speed and everything. His attacks are incredibly cheap and infuriatingly effective. You can't play as Urban Meyer. That code you heard about that lets you unlock him? Turns out that's an Urban Legend.

Special Abilities:

Money Bags: Various bagmen come out of the woodwork and assault you with sacks full of cash.

Hit Squad: Plain and simple. Urban Meyer hires a hit squad. The Columbus police ask no questions

Buckeye Blast: Meyer chucks a bunch of poisonous nuts at you.

Strategy:

Block, block block and call upon the ultimate: the Orange Krush! Only a wave of orange fervor can defeat this monster. Lovie wins!

win meyer

*****

Lovie Wins! I'm gonna go play Street Fighter II.