Heading into their third bye week since the beginning of September, the Fighting Illini find themselves a game above .500 at 3-2 following their loss to Nebraska on Saturday. The Illini have had many ups and downs already, from an upset over Cincinnati to a 39-19 loss to No. 25 Nebraska.
New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has already made a tremendous impact on the Fighting Illini offense, which is averaging 36.0 points per game after five games.
Many predicted the Illini would struggle on all sides of the field this season including ESPN, who forecasted Illinois' season as "not good." The Illini have surprised many people and teams and many statistics are a bit startling considering the bleak outlook prophesized by some.
Here is a look at five startling statistics from the Fighting Illini's 2013 campaign.
All statistics courtesy of BigTen.org.
The Illini have only allowed one fourth-down conversion which came in a 50-14 victory over Miami (OH). That conversion aside, the Illini have not allowed a fourth-down conversion in five attempts.
Even more impressive, the Illini are 4-for-6 on fourth-down conversions offensively.
The Illini even held off a very tough Nebraska offense on fourth down in Saturday's game, while the Illini offense was 2-for-4 on fourth-down conversions.
Remember those mistakes that the Illini need to force? Well, they've been doing a sufficient job thus far in the penalty department.
Illinois' opponents have been clipped a whopping 37 times for 309 yards. Compare that to opponents of, say, Purdue, which have only been called 14 times for 114 yards.
One of the brightest spots in Illinois' young season has been the success of V'Angelo Bentley. Bentley, a sophomore defensive back and kick returner from Cleveland, Ohio, has already brought back one kick for a touchdown—a 100-yard return against Southern Illinois.
Bentley leads the Big Ten in kick return yards, averaging 32.1 yards per game.
Perhaps the biggest bright spot in Illinois' season has been the passing success of senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Aided largely by the mind of new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, Illinois trails only Indiana in pass yards with 281.4 yards per game.