SOC - Wisconsin 2022


Robert
Oct 1, 2022
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16 Comments

My ears are still ringing. We went to a place called World Of Beer tonight and at 9:30 pm it turned into World Of Clubbin' because the lights turned off, the laser lights hit the ceiling, and the ooonch-ooonch-ooonch-ooonch hit the speakers. If you don't believe me, here:

Of course, it apparently didn't annoy us too much because that video was at 10:36 and it started at 9:30 so we stayed for over an hour in that environment. Which is why my ears are ringing. Which is why I started this SOC by telling you that my ears are ringing. You're all caught up.

Here's where I am with this game. No more stalling - right to it:

It's really hard to win on the road at Wisconsin. Yes, they just lost at home to Washington State. Yes, they were just destroyed by Ohio State. But it's still really hard to win on the road at Wisconsin.

I've said it this way when talking to people this week. Say it's 2027 and the program is completely rebuilt. Illinois won the Big Ten West in 2026 (if there's still a Big Ten West in 2026). There was a 7-win season followed by a 9-win season. The program we've dreamed about is right there in front of our eyes.

And then we have a road game scheduled at Wisconsin. Are you confident in winning that game? Or are you thinking that the road game at Wisconsin is one of the three losses you're anticipating that season? I don't feel like I'd be confident at all, even when expecting a nine win season, so why should I be confident this year when the rebuild is in year two?

We haven't been tested yet. We were semi-tested against Indiana (and failed), but we haven't been tested tested. I just worry about what this looks like when we're tested. I don't think that means "we'll fall apart during the first real test and lose 38-3", but I'm not sure we're ready for every test.

Maybe I can explain my thoughts that way. We're getting better grades. We're doing well on our quizzes. It feels like the days of "56% - F" are over. We're no longer at risk of failing the class.

But we're also not going to get an A on every test from here on out. We hope to eventually be an A student, but you don't just go from being a D+ student to an A student overnight. You have to work your way up.

And as we work our way up, I'm just not sure that this is a test we can pass. An angry Wisconsin team coming home to play Illinois, trying to get their season on track? We've been that "just what we needed" balm for so many opponents over the last 25 years. Are we thinking that we're all-of-the-sudden no longer that team?

I mean, right now, the Washington-UCLA game is on in the background. Washington is trying to rebuild under Kalen DeBoer. And things have been quite promising so far. 4-0, a big win over Michigan State (but is it a big win?), and ranked 15th in the polls. UCLA is undefeated but things have been shaky - they needed a field goal as time expired to beat South Alabama by one. This should be a game where Washington sets the tone and holds UCLA well below their season average.

Current score as I'm typing this: UCLA 40, Washington 16.

Even teams that start the season 4-0 and climb to #15 in the polls then go on the road and get a C- on the test (well, that score there is more of an F). It's just really hard to play 12 really solid football games. Every season for nearly every team has ups and downs, wins and losses, surges and retreats. Doesn't it feel like a game at Camp Randall will be a retreat?

Bottom line, if we win at Wisconsin tomorrow, don't we then have to talk about possibly winning every other game on the schedule besides Michigan? I'm not saying we'd be favored in every game besides Michigan - just saying that we'd have to start discussing "could Illinois finish the season with six wins in the final seven games?" If you beat Wisconsin at Wisconsin, you can beat Iowa and Minnesota at home. And win on the road at Nebraska and Northwestern.

Are you ready to have that discussion? I'm not. This is year two of the rebuild. There will be ups and downs between here and where we want to be. For whatever reason - maybe it's the fact that I was in my 20's the last time we won at Wisconsin and I turn 50 in a few months - I just can't find the confidence that we can come into this stadium and walk out with a win. Doesn't mean anything as far as the rebuild goes - it's just... another loss at Wisconsin.

So I see this game as being competitive, but I also see this game as a loss. Regroup, beat Iowa, and set up a big showdown at home with sudden Big Ten West favorite Minnesota. I'd love to go 2-1 over these next three weeks, and if we do that, I think the loss is in Madison, not Champaign. So I'm going with...

Wisconsin 27, Illinois 17

Comments

wesd2005 on October 1, 2022 @ 12:40 AM

I hope you're wrong on this one, although you're usually spot on. My hope is that this is the 2010 Penn St game - just a solid win on the road where we really take it to a presumably better team

Duce20 on October 1, 2022 @ 01:42 AM

You’re wrong.

MuckFichigan92 on October 1, 2022 @ 01:45 AM

Illini D outscores Wisky O. Illinois 28, Wisconsin 6.

orangejulius on October 1, 2022 @ 10:59 AM

Did I miss us switching rosters with Georgia for this week?

ATOillini on October 1, 2022 @ 07:38 AM

One of my favorite fall traditions is Saturday morning eggs, toast and coffee accompanied by SOC. Always a treat.

Duce20 on October 1, 2022 @ 07:51 AM

That’s awesome. Hope you’re eggs are perfect, your toast is buttered, and your coffee is hot but most of all I hope your football team SHOVES IT DOWN WISCONSIN’S FRICKIN THROAT!

ATOillini on October 1, 2022 @ 04:54 PM

Mission accomplished

LongLiveTheChief98 on October 1, 2022 @ 08:28 AM

“ For whatever reason - maybe it's the fact that I was in my 20's the last time we won at Wisconsin and I turn 50 in a few months - I just can't find the confidence that we can come into this stadium and walk out with a win.”

Same exact here…turning 49 this month. And how I’ve felt all week about this game. Until we show it, I can’t believe it. Wisconsin 23, Illini 13.

RonSwanson on October 1, 2022 @ 09:46 AM

Have to be able to get IW and Bryant involved early to open up things for Chase. Appears set up to be a defensive slugfest. Something something turnovers and penalties and field position...

Defense travels so we'll have a chance

Reykjavik4 on October 1, 2022 @ 09:52 AM

"...but we haven't been tested tested." Yup, that's why I'm not just wary of being disappointed today, I EXPECT to be disappointed today. I've been beaten into that mindset by decades of Illini fandom. Please, Coach B, make it go away. :-{

Eagle on October 1, 2022 @ 10:20 AM

This mindset is hard to overcome when it's been beaten into our heads over decades (with the exception of 2007). Our eyes are blinded to the significant improvements across the board on this team. Do we honestly have to wait until we've won the West before we have confidence in our team that they can win a big test?

We have:

  1. The number one RB in the nation
  2. The number one pressure creator in the nation
  3. Confidence on both sides of the ball.
  4. The best combination of receivers we've had in years
  5. Two top 40 corners in the country
  6. A competent coaching staff that may prove soon that it's actually great!

That's a radical departure from the character of all the recent Illini teams. We have to throw out all our past ways of thinking about the Illini and rebuild our mindset on a new foundation. That's hard to do but I believe today will lay that new fundation. If not today, then next week for sure.

orangejulius on October 1, 2022 @ 10:53 AM

We'll make them work for it, but I think playing in Madison makes this game a difficult one to win, if merely because of the officiating.

pwillits on October 1, 2022 @ 01:44 PM

Illini points and the over is looking like a good parlay, paying 5 to 1 :)

pwillits on October 1, 2022 @ 01:46 PM

Oops. Moneyline, not points. Obviously.

pwillits on October 1, 2022 @ 02:23 PM

I know we're all reticent to say it,but this is the best Illini football team since 07.

MuckFichigan92 on October 1, 2022 @ 03:10 PM

Chryst’s head on the wall looks lonely. Let’s put Ferentz’s right next to it next week!

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