There’s really not much else to say. Illinois Football is awful. The team played Rutgers — a team with comparable offense and defensive numbers to Illinois — who was also heavily struggling under a second-year head coach. It seemed like an even game was in the cards — possibly an Illinois win. Illinois was favored slightly by betting odds this week.
It didn’t matter. Illinois was soundly beaten at home yet again. The final score of 35-24 looks a bit better than what one who qualify for a blowout — Illinois even outgained Rutgers in total yards. But, in the end, Illinois was never a threat to actually win this game.
Outside of a potential breakout performance from freshman Ricky Smalling (five catches, 111 yards, one touchdown), there aren’t any real positives. The offense was bad. The defense was totally ineffective. The Illini made one of the worst special teams plays I have ever seen in my life.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ILLINOIS FOOTBALL NOOOO! pic.twitter.com/vftMdl2BBi— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 14, 2017
There’s really little else to say than Illinois was outclassed by Rutgers — a team on a 16-game Big Ten losing streak — at home. It’s another embarrassing performance for a team that has had plenty of them over the last decade. This was the worst game of the Lovie Smith Era so far.
It’s not going to get better either, at least not this season. More likely than not, Illinois will not win another game this year, and finish with zero conference wins for the first time since 2012 and the 15th time in school history.
Illinois remaining schedule is at Minnesota, vs. Wisconsin, at Purdue, vs. Indiana, at Ohio State, and vs. Northwestern. Illinois will not be favored in any of these matchups, and only have a slight chance at winning any of them.
The hope for this season is gone, but I don’t think the hope for the future is gone with it. Illinois can continue to play their freshmen and get them game expereince — it may be time to throw Cam Thomas in, as well. The young players can continue to get the necessary game reps, and in a few years, maybe they can be something.
But this year? It’s already lost. There’s no point in sugar coating it, Illinois is one of the — if not the worst — Power Five football programs.
For now, let’s focus on the future, and just try to get through the rest of this season.