As the summer months wane and fall approaches, the smell of football is in the air. As anyone that has had to endure them well knows, wake up too early any given morning in late August or early September, and for some reason it just feels like “two-a-days”.
Even if you’ve never experienced a 5 a.m. flashback to four-hour practices and small, enclosed rooms fouled with the funk of 50 unwashed girdles (yes, that is what they are called), you still know the distinct smells of fall, and this can mean only one thing: the beginning of another college football season.
For fans of the Fighting Illini, there always seems to be the extra added stench of failure – which is way worse than 50 girdles mind you – and this go-round appears to be no different.
That’s why it’s with extremely low, low expectations that Illinois begins 2010 by saying hello to the Missouri Tigers and goodbye (and good riddance) to the State Farm Arch Rivalry game Saturday, Sept. 4th at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, with kickoff set for 11:30 a.m.
When experience on defense is listed as one of your team’s strengths, and that defense finished the previous season ranked 698th out of 120 Division I FBS teams, this is not a good sign. Add to it injuries to two starters in the secondary – sophomore cornerback Terry Hawthorne (from East St. Louis, Ill.) and junior strong safety Supo Sanni – and the prognosis appears mighty grim against a Tigers squad that has trounced the Illini in five previous Arch Rivalries dating back to 2002.
One thing that will be different in 2010 is there will be no more blaming losses on the much-maligned Juice Williams. Illinois has a new starting quarterback in redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase, who for some reason chose Illinois over Iowa, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Hey, nobody ever said Illinois head coach Ron Zook couldn’t recruit.
Just to give you an idea of how thin the Illini secondary has become: Hawthorne’s replacement at cornerback in the starting lineup, sophomore Justin Green, was the team’s third-string running back a few weeks ago.
Which is why we’d be surprised if Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert didn’t surpass the 319 yards and three touchdowns he posted in the 2009 game with relative ease.
Despite the years of merciless beatings, the entire staff of Grubb Hub will be at the game in full force. However, we solemnly promise that no matter how bad the score gets – and it should get pretty bad – no nachos will be thrown.
Grubb Hub Prediction:
Missouri 41, Illinois 20