College Football Rankings: Is Illinois Legit?
One of the more surprising names to see in the Top 25 at this point in the season is Illinois.
Ron Zook’s team started off the season unranked and way off the radar but the Illini have come out firing, starting off the season 5-0 after a big, last-second comeback win over Northwestern last Saturday.
The key to the team’s success has been the play of breakout star quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase who is developing into one of the Big Ten’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
The athletic dual-threat quarterback has already totaled 1,287 yards of offense and scored 10 touchdowns .
Scheelhaase isn’t the only Illinois player who is coming into his own either.
His top target, WR A.J. Jenkins, has been the most productive receiver in the Big Ten so far this season, hauling in 40 catches for 633 yards and five touchdowns.
The team also owes much of its success to the defensive front seven, which is currently only giving up an average of 79 yards on the ground per game.
LB Michael Buchanan and DE Whitney Mercilus have both stepped up and become impact players, helping to ease the loss of Corey Liuget and Martez Wilson.
Since they only have home wins over Arizona State and Northwestern to really brag about, it’s hard to say that this team is a true contender just yet, but they’ve definitely established themselves as a dangerous dark horse to watch in the Big Ten this year.
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