Illinois Football only won two games in 2017, and the Illini have five total wins over Lovie Smith’s first two seasons as the head coach in Champaign. Most of the hype this offseason has surrounded the next recruiting class in 2019.
But before those kids — Isaiah Williams, Marquez Beason and others — arrive on campus, the 2018 season needs to be played, and the over/under win total has been set — at 3.5 wins.
With no clear-cut quarterback — Cam Thomas is likely the guy to start the season, but who knows — several new coaches, including offensive coordinator Rod Smith, and still a fairly young team after a ton of transfers, 3.5 wins might be a little generous.
The Illini aided by a relatively soft non-conference schedule, including Kent State and Western Illinois, so Illinois should start 2-0 once again. Those games are followed by a meeting with a worse-off South Florida at Soldier Field, so Illinois stands a chance. The Illini also play Purdue, Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland, so there are a few chances for conference victories.
We’ll see what happens, but if history (see: Lovie’s tenure) is any sign, bet the under.