Today should have been Juice’s Last Stand.
No, I’m not talking about the latest fledgling fruit drink franchise to be crushed by the heartless corporate shell Orange Julius. I mean Juice Williams, the embattled senior quarterback for the Fighting Illini football team. Juice has been the poster boy for an Illini season that started so promising, and now conjures up what Illini fans hoped were long-forgotten nightmares of Tepper and Turner.
Illinois head coach Ron Zook made the call early this week: Junior backup Eddie McGee would make his first career start under center, against the Michigan State Spartans and their evil, racist mascot Sparty.
This was the wrong call for a number of reasons. First of all, Illinois finally gets to play a mediocre opponent at home. Sure, the Illini and Juice have looked terrible in their three losses. But for a moment, consider the opponents: Missouri, Ohio State, and Penn State. All three of those teams are currently ranked. Ohio State and Penn State are both in the top 15. Only one of those games – last week’s 35-17 disappointment against the Nittany Lions – has been in the somewhat friendly, renovated confines of Memorial Stadium.