…to kickoff for the most anticipated Fighting Illini Football season in a decade or more. And we’re doing it right, with the Showdown in St. Louis vs. #6 Mizzou. Beemsville will be in full effect for the game, with a new O&B blog theme, with the final tailgate ops plan being finalized even now… Meanwhile, Illinois scribe emeritus Loren Tate checks in with thoughts on how this opener could rank historically.
The fan-base is pumped up. Check the lines for autographs at fan appreciation day.
The current depth-chart is firmly in place. Notable injuries to Jeff Cumberland, Sirod Williams (out for the season), and Troy Pollard (who will probably be OK next weekend) are of concern but not show-stoppers.
Of more concern, the Tiggers, who are senior-laden, talented, and in the hunt for the National Title. Their offense was pretty much unstoppable for any team not named Oklahoma last year, and almost everyone is back.
As with most hyped games, it will probably come down to turnovers and error-avoidance. Some quick keys to the game:
- Fearsome Illini D-line vs. Chase Daniels – if you give the Mizzou QB time, he’ll pick you apart.
- Illini kicking game
- Mizzou secondary vs. Illinois receivers – who gets the big plays?
- Pressure on the Tiggers – they’re expecting greatness in Columbia…
- And, of course, the X-factor for the O&B, this guy: