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Things should get easier for the Illini the rest of the way

It’s safe to say the hardest games are behind them.

Let’s hope an early, tough schedule got the Illini ready for Big Ten play down the stretch.

Weeks 2 and 3 saw still undefeated opponents — currently ranked No. 24 Kansas and No. 6 Penn State.

All things considered, 2-2 doesn’t look so bad now.

While Iowa was previously ranked No. 24 in last week’s poll, its shutout loss against Penn State dropped them well out of the top 25.

Three of the top six teams in this week’s AP Poll are current Big Ten teams (No. 2 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 6 Penn State).

And if we’re counting teams joining the conference in 2024, the Big Ten currently has six teams in Week 5’s top 10 (No. 7 Washington, No. 8 USC and No. 9 Oregon).

It just so happens that Illinois doesn’t have to play any of these teams for the rest of the regular season.

I’m not saying the rest of this year’s schedule is a cake walk, but not seeing numbers in front of any of those teams is a sigh of relief.

The fact that an Iowa team which just got embarrassed on national TV is the hardest remaining game isn’t the worst news in the world to hear either.

This season might not have started the way some had hoped, but it seems the strongest opponents are behind Illinois now.

Despite being winless at home, Purdue is still the one point favorite over the Illini.

This week’s test will come against a familiar face, head coach Ryan Walters, leading a struggling Boilermakers squad. Illinois is looking to get above .500 on the season and capitalize against their longtime rival.

Kickoff will be in West Lafayette at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday.