YouTube is a treasure trove for college football nerds. From full versions of classic games to short game highlights of your team’s greatest days (or your team’s greatest players) or clips of old coach call-in shows, YouTube has everything a college football fan would need to occupy the off-season.
But now, a new fix has emerged: the EA Sports NCAA simulations put together by the SG1 Youtube channel.
Basically, SG1 Sports took the last game created by EA Sports, NCAA 2014, then updated rosters to reflect a team’s current make up, and then runs simulations. The simulations are limited by the fact that they do not create rosters for most Group of 5 teams or FCS teams, but they do contain every Power Five team. Nonetheless, the simulations are fun to watch as SG1 slowly releases them throughout the summer.
Well, the Illini’s 2019 season simulation was recently posted, and we think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.
Games 1-3 (Akron, UConn, EMU)
Our friends at SG1 Sports did not have the rosters for Akron, UConn or Eastern Michigan, so they just assumed that the Illini win these three.
We understand that a 3-0 start for the Illini is not a given — especially with Week 3 match-up against a pretty good Eastern Michigan squad on the schedule — but this is fantasy and we’ll take those wins any way we can get them.
Game 4: Illinois 38, Nebraska 34
“Give Lovie an extension now.”
The Illini jump on the Huskers early with Mike Epstein running it in to make it 21-10 in the second quarter.
But the Huskers come back to take a 34-31 lead in the fourth.
Then, with under two minutes left, Brandon Peters hits Ricky Smalling on a long TD pass and the Illini take a 38-34 lead.
The Huskers drive into Illini territory, but the Illini seal this one when they break up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
The Illini finish September 4-0 as fans are cautiously optimistic heading into the bye week. On the other side, Nebraska fans must face the reality that Scott Frost’s rebuild might take longer than expected.
Game 5: Minnesota 24, Illinois 23
“The Latest Chapter in the Lovie-PJ Fleck Dramedy”
The Illini and Gophers are both undefeated heading into this unexpected Big Ten showdown.
The Illini are in control of this game as they take a 20-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Gophers cut the Illini lead to 23-17, and with 30 seconds left in the game, they hit a 50-yard pass to get in scoring position.
But, with no timeouts left, the Illini stop the Gophers short of the end zone with 6 seconds left. The Gophers miraculously scramble to get a play off with 1 second left and score in heartbreaking fashion.
The Illini feel robbed and protest on the field, but there is nothing they can do as PJ Fleck taunts the Illini in his postgame celebration.
Game 6: Michigan 38, Illinois 17
A superior Michigan team comes into Champaign and puts the Illini away early as the Wolverines take a 35-7 halftime lead.
The only thing worth noting in this one is that Jim Harbaugh confuses Lovie for former assistant Pep Hamilton, refers to him as Pep during the post-game press conference, continues to refer to him as Pep after reporters correct him, reflects on Pep — a proud member of his coaching offspring — during the postgame radio show, and comforts Illini fans by letting them know that Pep is the right man to turn the Illini around.
Game 7: Wisconsin 30, Illinois 14
“Can October just end?”
Since starting 4-0, the Illini have come back to earth, and now Wisconsin comes into town. In typical Illisconsin fashion, the Badgers politely crockpot the Illini, and serve them for dinner at a Kenosha supper club, en route to a 30-14 win.
This fourth-down throw from Brandon Peters in the fourth quarter tells you everything you need to know about this one.
Game 8: Purdue 47, Illinois 26
“IlliniToffee’s Kickstarter to fund Lovie’s buyout goes live...and raises $20,000 in the first 24 hours”
No one would expect a loss to a Jeff Brohm coached Purdue team to trigger Illini fans. However, 2019 Purdue, at least according the NCAA simulation, is total butt and reeks of Darrel Hazel. The Boilers head into the late October matchup with the Illini on a six game losing streak that includes blowout losses to Vanderbilt, TCU, Minnesota, Penn State and Maryland. The Boilers finish the season a Hazel-esque 2-10. Nonetheless, the highlight of the Boilers’ season is a 47-26 win over the Illini that leaves the Illini 0-4 in October — 4-4 overall — with bowl hopes now quickly fading.
Game 9: Illinois 31, Rutgers 27
“An Illinutgers for the ages.”
October mercifully ends and the real football weather of November begins as the Illini and Rutgers play one for the ages. This one conjured up images of 2005 as the Illini won a nail bitter.
With Rutgers up 7-0 in the first, Brandon Peters perfectly sets up a screen pass to Reggie Corbin for a touchdown
In the third quarter, the Illini make a huge play on special teams recovering a Rutgers fumble on kickoff and running it in for the touchdown to take a 27-17 lead
But Rutgers scores two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a 31-27 lead.
With the Illini’s season (and Lovie’s tenure) on the line, Brandon Peters drives the Illini down the field and then runs over a defender for the game-winning TD.
The Illini are now 5-4 and are a win away from bowl eligibility.
Game 10: Michigan State 41, Illinois 13
“Wait!!!.....Brian Lewerke threw for how many yards?!?!?!”
Brian Lewerke has a career day against the Illini and now, all of a sudden, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper are drooling over his NFL potential.
The Illini never get off the bus in East Lansing and now sit at 5-5. They must win at Iowa or at home against Northwestern to become bowl eligible. Things are not looking good.
Game 11: Illinois 27, Iowa 16
“Holy Crap..the Illini are going bowling”
As many of you already know, the Illini have not fared well against Iowa the last two decades and have not won at Kinnick Stadium since 1999. Then, when you mix in Iowa 63-0 thrashing of the Illini last season, Illini fans are left with little reason to expect a win at Iowa
But that did not stop Lovie and Co. from getting the biggest win of Lovie’s tenure.
In the second quarter, Mike Epstein scores to make it 10-3 Illini.
The Illini defense comes up big on the next drive.
Then the Illini take a 20-3 lead into the half following a deep pass from Brandon Peters.
In the third, Iowa scores twice to cut the lead to 20-16. Iowa then intercepts Peters and almost turns a pick-six.
The Illini, however, stop Iowa on fourth down inside the red zone.
On the ensuing possession, Brandon Peters drives the Illini down the field for the game-clinching touchdown. The celebration begins!!!!
Immediately after this one ends, Illinois students rush Green Street to celebrate around Alma Mater, a scene that is joyously captured all over the country. And no, unlike the philistines in Madison and East Lansing, Illinois students did not burn couches. The Music City Bowl Twitter account then responds to the Illini’s celebration with eyeball emojis.
Game 12: Illinois 48, Northwestern 31
“Music City Bowl here we come.”
Throughout the week leading up to the matchup with Northwestern, beat writers are given word that an Illini win will likely send them to Nashville for the Music City Bowl while a loss would send the to Detroit for the Motor City Bowl. Given how badly the Illini want a bowl appearance, this is a win-win for the Illini, but the preference for both Illini fans and the Music City Bowl is to land the Illini, whose fans are certain to travel in droves to Nashville.
With the Illini up 14-10 in the second quarter, Brandon Peters takes it in a zone read to give the Illini a 21-10 lead.
Later in the second quarter Mike Epstein scores on a draw to make it 28-10.
In the third, Epstein scores again on a draw to make 38-17 Illini.
The Illini end up winning this one 48-31 and fans begin making travel plans for Nashville.
Overall, the Illini finish 7-5 on the season and 4-5 in Big Ten play. If you asked any Illini fan if they would take the results of the NCAA Simulation, most would not hesitate.
Let the (video) games begin.