Back in July when the Big Ten Network announced a brand new college football pregame show called BTN Tailgate, Illini fans were hoping the program would make a stop at the newly-created Grange Grove this season. It looks like they've gotten their wish. On Wednesday, BTN revealed the first six stops of its new College Gameday spin-off show, and two of those games will feature the Fighting Illini. Here's the total breakdown:
BTN Tailgate is a live, 90-minute show beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET and will serve as Big Ten football fans' pregame home this fall with previews, special guests and analysis. Tailgate aims to capture the unique game day environment on each campus, with fan interaction, former coaches and players on set and special features. Alongside host Dave Revsine, BTN football experts Gerry DiNardo and Anthony Adams will go in-depth on each Big Ten matchup of the week as 14 schools march toward a conference title in Indianapolis.
BTN Tailgate Campus Locations Entrance will open at 9 a.m. ET, 90 minutes prior to the start of the live show.
• Sept. 24 - Munn Field (Wisconsin vs. Michigan State)
• Oct. 1 - Ed Weir Track (Illinois vs. Nebraska)
• Oct. 8 - RPAC (Indiana vs. Ohio State)
• Oct. 15 - Mellencamp Pavilion (Nebraska vs. Indiana)
• Oct. 22 - Krause Family Plaza (Wisconsin vs. Iowa)
• Oct. 29 - Grange Grove (Minnesota vs. Illinois)
Illinois will be the road team in Lincoln on the show's second-ever stop, and then the Orange and Blue will host BTN Tailgate four weeks later in Champaign prior to their homecoming game against Minnesota. This is a pretty cool idea and hopefully it will create an even better atmosphere in Grange Grove prior to kickoff.
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- Former Illini Jihad Ward staying in touch with the program
Multiple Illini, including senior defensive linemen Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips, have said that Ward still keeps in touch with his old teammates through weekly phone calls from the West Coast.
- Early preview: Illinois vs Western Michigan
Illinois has won four out of five meetings against Western Michigan, and can improve to 24-3 in August/September home games since the beginning of the 2007 season. "Western Michigan is a good football team," Smith told reporters. "Looking at the schedule we knew this would be one of those games which will truly measure how far we've come."
- Illini OC Garrick McGee a big fan of Louisville's Lamar Jackson
Since he left Louisville to become Illinois' offensive coordinator, Garrick McGee hasn't harped on QB Wes Lunt's lack of mobility. But he didn't hide the fact that when he's not helping coach the Illini, he's managed to see another college quarterback doing his thing.
- University of Illinois named top ten public school
"US News and World Reports" just released a new ranking for 2017 of the top public schools. In a four way tie, the U of I sits at number 10. The ranking is based on university performance on a variety of indicators including, student quality of life, academia, campus safety, and enrollment. Students said they are proud to be Fighting Illini.