When you drive through the Illinois countryside this time of year, you’re treated to a pleasing mix of greens and golds—the harvest tones of early autumn, gentle and sun-drenched and warm, untouched by frost. The farmers are taking their crops but haven’t yet begun to plow or disk, so the fields remain golden. The leaves have not yet turned. The weather is so pleasant, so accommodating, you almost feel guilty about it; you definitely feel the guilt if you have to stay indoors all day. At night, you have your big harvest moon overhead. The crickets are large and loud, but you keep the windows open anyway. It’s a lovely time of year.
And the Fighting Illini are 4-1, sitting atop the Big 10.
That’s Arrelious Benn, who ran back the Illini’s opening kickoff 90 yards for the TD, and broke about 15 tackles to score another one. He’s a big reason why the Orange & Blue faithful are smiling this morning. We’re not used to it around here. Usually, we’re already counting down to the start of basketball by the first week of October, but now we’re talking bowl game.
What a great day for football this past Saturday. Beautiful weather, a sold out stadium, the great running game, the big play defense… The in-laws who made the trip had a fine time—hopefully the first of many in coming years. The kids had a blast, the RV ran fine…
Yes, the Illini still have some problems to address: giving up too many big pass plays on D, not completing a single pass the second half, etc. But the heart is there, the belief is there. Most importantly, the athletes are there. It’s been far too long since we had guys that could run past you, but now we do. Give the Zooker his due—his recruiting and general positivity are paying off.
Random notes from the weekend:
- I hope the general good signs exhibited by Juice in the first half weren’t countermanded by his struggles in the second half. That said, I think Eddie McGee should get more time.
- We still don’t throw enough to the tight ends or to Kyle Hudson.
- Our tickets put us right by the bball team, who were sporting the pink Tees. The guys look healthy. My nephew got Coach Weber’s autograph, which was cool.
- My daughter, who is three, wanted to know where the Chief was. She asked the wife and my sister several times. She didn’t understand. My wife attempted to explain it to her but had a rough time. Last night my little girl was still wondering about it—she thought maybe the Chief could come live at our house, or alternatively, we should throw the people who made him go away in a dungeon.
- As a follow-up, the 3-in-1 without the Chief, in its current format, is hollow and sad. I’m convinced the band is doing this purposely in tribute. I’m hoping someone finds a way to do something symbolic and futile for homecoming.