After a 43-13 thrashing of the Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois has found itself receiving two votes in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll.
To many other teams around the country, this may not seem like a monumental moment, but to all the Illini faithful, this news has the potential to make your day.
After two disappointing seasons in 2008 and 2009 since making it to a Rose Bowl in 2007, Illinois appears as if it will to be heading to a bowl game again.
The Illini are seven games into the season and three games into conference play, and it stands at an appealing record of 4-3 overall and 2-2 against conference teams.
According to CBSSports.com, Illinois has the No. 1 SOS in the nation—meaning that they have had the toughest schedule of any team so far this season.
Illinois' three losses have come against No. 5 and undefeated Michigan State, No. 8 and undefeated Missouri and No. 10 Ohio State whose only loss came against Wisconsin last weekend.
Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin have all combined for a record of 22-2.
The most impressive element is that Illinois stayed very competitive in all three games, leading both Missouri and Michigan State at halftime, but its offense struggled in the second half, and Illinois was unsuccessful in upsetting any of them.
With its impressive showing against those opponents and its four victories against Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Penn State and Indiana, Illinois has impressed numerous people.
The offense is struggling currently, but the defense is one of the best we have seen in a while.
Led by junior linebacker Martez Wilson, Illinois is only giving up 17.7 points per contest, which ranks 15th in the nation. Wilson is finally living up to his potential and is having the best season of his career.
Looking at the remainder of its schedule, Illinois has the potential to finish with a final record of 9-3 or 8-4, landing them in a bowl game.
Be excited Illinois fans, it is possible that we may become ranked at some point this season and will make a bowl game.
Who would have guessed that coming into this season?
But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take it week by week and get focused on Purdue, who is also sitting at a record of 4-3.
As for the rest of the Big Ten teams, the USA Today Coaches Poll has five teams ranked in the Top 25: Michigan State (No. 5), Wisconsin (No. 9), Ohio State (No. 10), Iowa (No. 19) and Michigan (No. 25).
Along with the five teams ranked in the Top 25, Northwestern and Illinois are also receiving votes.
This just continues to prove that the Big Ten is making a strong case as one of the strongest conferences in the country.
USA Today Coaches Poll
- Oregon (50)
- Boise State (3)
- Auburn (3)
- TCU (1)
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- South Carolina
- Oklahoma State
- Virginia Tech
- Miami (FL)
- Mississippi State
Others receiving votes: Nevada (48), Hawaii (40), Navy (26), East Carolina (20), West Virginia (18), Northwestern (9), North Carolina State (4), California (3), San Diego State (3), Syracuse (3), Texas (2), UCF (2), Illinois (2), Northern Illinois (1), Clemson (1), Air Force (1)
*All rankings used in article were based on USA Today Coaches Poll.
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