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63-0: A Year Later

Things have changed.

NCAA Football: Iowa at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

This certainly could’ve been a whiny article.

Editor’s Note: The first draft of this absolutely was a whiny article full of complaining.

But it shouldn’t be.

One year ago today — Nov. 17, 2018 — Illinois lost on Senior Day to Iowa 63-0. And, you know, that game kind of really sucked at the time. It seemed like a low point, it seemed like the end.

But, as Fighting Illini do, we fought through it.

Everyone around the program bounded together. And things seemingly look like they’re headed in the right direction.

The point of this article isn’t to remind you of an awful day, but, hopefully, in some weird way, a turning point.

Since that day, recruiting (slowly) has picked up, even if the numbers aren’t there. Everyone always talks about getting guys who want to be Illini, and now, it seems like not only is Illinois getting very talented football players (transfers, freshmen, walk-ons), but they’re getting guys who embody what it means to be a Fighting Illini.

When it comes to Lovie, that day, it didn’t seem like we were seeing a coach with any interest of wanting to be the head football coach at the University of Illinois. And, today, Lovie is dancing and smiling and laughing and joking and seemingly enjoying life.

How about Josh Whitman? He was just extended, because, maybe on that day it didn’t look like his plan was panning out, but, today, seemingly it is. Everything’s on the up and up.

And that very same field where Illinois was throttled by an average Kirk Ferentz team, Illinois pulled off the greatest upset of the 2019 season, beating No. 5 Wisconsin on a last-second field goal. When nobody was left in the stands on that cold and dreary Senior Day last November, it was the following Homecoming where everyone rushed the field.

It’s only a year, but, seemingly, it’s a different program. And a better program.

I’m not saying that losing 63-0 on Senior Day to be eliminated from bowl eligibility was a good thing, but, you know, it could’ve been worse.