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‘We prep a lot at night’: 4+ night games for Illinois in 2023

Bielema isn't phased by the night games on the schedule.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 22 Chattanooga at Illinois Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bret Bielema isn’t phased by the night games on the schedule in 2023.

And there’s a lot of them.

Four of Illinois’ first six games will be under the lights, either at Memorial Stadium or on the road, but the Illini head coach says his team is ready.

“It’s just playing the games as they play,” Bielema said Monday. “Our last two Week Zero games have been during the day, but we prep a lot at night, so I don’t think it’s really any different. We practice in the morning now, but we’re obviously in tune with what goes on when we’re going to play day games, night games.”

Illinois opens the season at home against Toledo on Saturday night, before a Friday night contest against Kansas in Lawrence. The Illini then welcome Big Noon Kickoff to Champaign for an 11 a.m. kick against Penn State, and a likely 11 a.m. kick against FAU.

Then it’s back to night — a Saturday night in West Lafayette, and a Friday night at Memorial against Nebraska.

Bielema doesn’t care.

“As a head coach now going into my 15th year, the time of the game isn’t such an important task as getting your guys ready to understand what that means.”

He doesn’t want any excuses come opening night against the Rockets.

“Guys talk about how good they feel, and we really want to have that in full effect on Saturday night.”

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on BTN.

Times for the second half of the season aren’t yet available, but there is more than likely another night game or two on there. And I’m not doing the research, but 5-6 night games would have to be a program record, right?