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Illinois Football: 2019 College Football Playoff Champions

Stay with me here.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Here at The Champaign Room, we’ve been told a time or two that we are too negative, or too bleak with our outlook on Illinois athletics. And I agree. There’s going to be plenty of posts on this site and other Illini sites about how Illinois is going 3-9 or 4-8 this season. And about how growth and development is what will be important. And about how Rod Smith can improve this offense with these new quarterbacks. You can read that post anywhere.

That’s why today we are going to walk through how the Fighting Illini can win the College Football Playoff, and how to prepare for the aftermath of such an apocalyptic event.

The Assumptions

AJ Bush is actually Cam Newton. He’s only an inch shorter and 20 pounds lighter and no one’s really seen him play before. So who knows.

Mike Epstein is Christian McCaffrey. That one actually might be true. Dudek, Smalling and Dorsey are the best trio of weapons in the Big Ten and the offensive line works so hard that they actually invent time travel and become juniors and seniors instead of freshmen and sophomores. That’s the kind of grit and determination Lovie and the staff are going to instill into these young men.

On defense, Bennett Williams and Nate Hobbs turn into a young Mike Brown and Peanut Tillman. Meanwhile, the NCAA allows Camilo Eifler to play right away. Lovie’s identity is firmly cemented as the new identity of Illinois Football as the Illini lead the nation in turnovers forced as well as defensive touchdowns.

The Games

Kent State and Western Illinois are cakewalks. Lovie channels the magic of his Chicago Bears glory days, which is more than enough to take care of USF. Boom. 3-0.

They lose to Penn State because — let’s be real — it’s still early and the team is still coming together. This is good because it keeps the team under the radar and hungry.

Rutgers and Purdue are the next two games. These are games Illinois fans are hopeful about. They provide the best chance to end the B1G losing streak. In this universe Illinois plays two great games and gets two great wins. The momentum is building.

So Illinois is 5-1. It’s slightly unbelievable but if Illinois is going to win five games this year, those may be the ones.

This is where I have to have them beat Wisconsin. You’re just going to have to accept that. This is AJ Bush’s coming out party. It’s his Heisman campaign game. He’s responsible for five touchdowns and Wisconsin can’t keep up in the shootout. You know how a bunch of Wisconsin linemen graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s college football preview? Fuhgeddaboutit. Camp Randall is shook. And so is the football world.

At this point Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska and even Iowa are underdogs and all fall to the feared Illini. The team has miraculously averted all injuries and Rod Smith’s offensive scheme is putting up blistering numbers.

The LOLHat game is approaching and the Fighting Fitzgeralds are 5-6 and desperate for a win to get them to a bowl game and to keep big brother from a chance at the National Title. The game is a see-saw affair. An overtime thriller. An instant classic. Illinois wins 42-41 when Cam Miller is thrust into action and rushes for a game-winning two-point conversion in overtime.

The B1G championship is set. It’s Illinois and Michigan. Ohio State’s season goes sideways amidst turmoil and injuries ravage Penn State’s season. It’s a defensive affair all the way through. Both offenses struggle. It comes down to which QB makes a play at the end of the game. Or which doesn’t make a mistake. A pick six in the closing minutes of a tie game clinches a B1G Championship for the Illini.

A Final Four of Alabama, Illinois, Oklahoma and Washington is set. Illinois proves that the Big 12 style still isn’t ready to win a CFP in the semifinal. It’s Illinois vs. Alabama in the National Championship. You wanted Bama, you got Bama. Lovie is stoic, per usual, and his young team is so fired up. They’re also too naive to let the stage get the best of them. They play the game of their lives. They take an early lead, capitalize on mistakes, and before the nation can realize what’s happened, the Illini are running out the clock.

They’ve done it, Tess.

The Fighting Illini are the 2019 College Football Playoff National Champions.

The Aftermath

Champaign-Urbana riots. Four fraternities and The Red Lion burn to the ground. Rest in peace.

Chicago publications tout Lovie as their native son and sing the praises of the state school like never before.

AJ Bush is drafted in the first round and becomes a living legend in Orange and Blue history.

A statue of Lovie Smith (with a beard) is erected outside of the south end of Memorial Stadium immediately.

The Champaign Room garners so much traffic from the team’s success, as well as applause for predicting such an unprecedented run, that they win “Blog of the Year” and every other Internet award that might exist.

Illinois fans never have to take shit from any other fanbase ever again.

Well, fingers crossed.

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