The 2009 Illinois football season was a major disappointment (3-9) for a a team that was expected to compete for the Big Ten Title. With veteran leadership from Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn Illinois was expected to look like there 2006 team that played in the Rose Bowl. The season started with injuries to Benn and Juice was later benched in favor of freshman Jacob Charest and well the season ended bad. Illinois comes in with a young team a new starting QB in Nathan Scheelhaase.
Illinois begins the season in St. Louis against Missouri. Missouri has beaten Illinois the last 5 times. Illinois hopes to change that around with this being the last game against Missouri on the current contract.
Illinois then plays in state rivals Southern and Northern Illinois. These 2 games are win-able but it depends on how Nathan handles the QB position being a Redshirt-Freshman. Illinois should win both of these games but with Illinois having a young offense its still questionable.
Illinois then opens the Big Ten Conference schedule on October 2nd at home against Ohio State and then on the road at Penn State on October 9th. These 2 games will be very tough for the Illini depending on how they do in these 2 games could effect the entire season. Even if Illinois was to lose both of these games its not the end of the world for them. If the Illini keep both games close it will be a moral win for them and if they pull off a win against one of the two it would be major step foward.
Illinois plays at Michigan State on October 16 and should be a very close game. The last time Illinois played at State they came out on top with the win.
Illinois then comes home for games on October 23 and 30 against Indiana and Purdue. Illinois is playing 2 teams that will be towards the bottom of the conference and Illinois running game in Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford will be vital for Illinois to have success this season. I think that Illinois will take both of these games at home in front of a raucous crowd at Memorial Stadium.
On November 6th Illinois goes to Ann Arbor to play Michigan which depending on which Michigan shows up could be a win or lose for the Illini. If Michigan continues to play like they did last season Illinois should win this game. The Illini then come home to Champaign on November 13 against a Minnesota team that went to a Bowl Game and lost and finished the season 6-7 so this will be a game that could go either way.
Illinois final 2 games of the season are on the road the first one on November 20 against Northwestern and the game will be played at Wrigley Field. Northwestern had one of there best seasons in a while going to a Bowl Game against Auburn and lost by 3 finishing the season 8-5. The Wildcats will be a tough matchup for Illinois. Illinois final game of the season is December 3 at Fresno State. Illinois is the only team in the Big Ten with a game in December again this season. Last season these 2 teams put up a high scoring affair where the defenses.