The series is over. The Fighting Illini are 0-fer. Missouri can look forward to a couple of cupcakes and then the final version of the complete Big 12 North, and most likely another bowl game. Meanwhile, Illinois has a couple of dogfights on the horizon with the two state directional schools you don’t want to see this year. SIU is Top 5 in 1AA, while Northern has been gradually improving for a decade. I’d rather be playing EIU, WIU, or ISU.
Mizzou football is where Illinois should be. We should be able to compete for conference championships more than once a decade and we should be in decent bowls more often than not. But we aren’t, which is why Ronnie the G continues to take heat despite his many other victories as an AD. At least we can move on to a softer schedule the next few years in an attempt to rediscover early season momentum. We won’t see the Tiggers for many a moon barring some weird post-season pairing, and that’s fine by me. Here’s your final Arch Rivalry pentagram…
- Scheelhaase played like a freshman QB. He made a few decent plays – mostly with his scrambling – but turned it over way too many times. The last pick was a back-breaker and just a poorly thrown ball. We’ve heard he’s smart and accurate. I hope we see it in coming weeks. What I saw was a struggling young quarterback with a marginal arm. He floated some balls and had a tough time picking up the blitzes in the second half. In other words, it looked like Juice without the long ball threat. He’s got to be better for the Illini to have any chance.
- O-line looked pretty poor – especially in the second half. They were disorganized and slow to react. They didn’t open much up for Leshoure and company. This was a hallmark of last year’s team also, probably not helping that they’re still absorbing the non-spread schemes. Since Mizzou’s d-line isn’t supposed to be all that, this was less than encouraging.
- The defense looked much better overall. Yeah, they were obviously worn out in th 4th but still managed some stops. And we saw a lot better tackling (especially in one-on-one situations) and good pursuit to the ball. Would like to see more pressure – we dropped eight into coverage too much for my taste – but it’s a good start. If you had Terry Hawthorne and Josh Brent out there you might have something.
- Petrino’s play-calling was solid but safe – The strategy involved grinding it out, holding onto the ball, and keeping Mizzou’s offense off the field. Worked pretty well for a half. Then they figured out our option draw play, stacked the box, and shut us down. That would have been a great time for play action, but either the O-line couldn’t give Nate time or he doesn’t have the arm to throw it deep. Petrino is probably only running at half-strength, but we’ll need to see some variations or ensuing opponents will crowd the box and sell-out on stopping Leshoure and Ford. Not a lot of motion by receivers. No wildcat with McGee. Didn’t look like we were running that many different plays.
- This series has been murder, especially when you consider how teams like OSU and Iowa routinely open with a nice fat cupcake. But unlike last year, I don’t feel like the team’s confidence has taken a hit. We hung with Mizzou for most of the game and might’ve had a chance with another break or two. Now we just have to avoid a letdown against two straight in-state schools thinking they can make a name for themselves.