Illinois defeats Minnesota in Big Ten West “Playoff” game

Ok, I got my full PT and a treadmill walk prior to the game, and we added distance to and from the car to get some more miles.

Tracy seemed to like the upgrade to club seats. They have advantages but not sure the extra price is worth it on a game-in, game-out basis. I’ll return to my usual seats next game.

The game itself: Well, this was supposed to be the biggest challenge for the Illini yet, but..I’d say the Iowa game was harder. Yes, I know about the quarterback injury, but the Iowa defense is better than Minnesota’s though the Gopher running game is a LOT better than Iowa’s.

The Illini looked sharp all day; a time consuming drive was capped by a 40 yard pass to our star running back to make it 7-0. An interception stopped the Gophers then later, a drive ended up with a field goal to make it 10-0.

The Gophers then got their only sustained drive of the day, lead by their own star running back; it was now 10-7, but just before the half, the Illini down to the 5 and ended up with a field goal. 13-7 at the half

Second half: spectacular kick return and a horse collar tackle penalty set the Gophers up at the Illini 5, and then a run put them up 14-13, which proved to be their last score of the game.

Afterward…long drive by the Illini, mainly off a long pass to the 5. Then came a sequence of plays: run up the middle was stuffed, then a spectacular fake and bootleg to the left had the Illini quarterback walk into the end zone.

It was only 20-14, but that seemed to deflate the Gophers. Two more field goals..and there was the final score: 26-14.

I have to say that I was deeply impressed. The Illini offense play calling kept the Gophers off balance all day long. Total yards were 472-180, though the kick return skewed that a bit. Passing: Gophers had 38 yards; the Illini pass rush gave the quarterbacks no time to throw or to even look for open receivers.

The Illini had 27 first downs, 6-17 3’rd down conversions, 4-4 4’th down conversions.

I’ve followed them for about a decade, and, simply put, the stadium is about the same, the uniforms are similar, and even the raw talent isn’t THAT much different (Illini sent guys to the NFL every year), but the level of execution is much different.

When it is 3’rd down, I *expect* them to convert. I am finally getting to where screw ups genuinely surprise me.

The play calling: well, when the coaches call for a run on 3’rd and 8..well, I now think “coaches saw something that makes them think it will work”..and it often does!

Now, yes, I know that the Illinois schedule has something to do with the record: Wisconsin and Virginia are dumpster fires this year, Iowa has zero offense and Minnesota is a one dimensional team (their running is good) who got too much credit for blowing out unexpectedly bad teams (Colorado, Michigan State).

But, Illinois really can make a claim to being the best team in the Big Ten West, as of this moment, though Purdue might dispute that. We’ll seem them in Champaign later this season.

And yes, even genuinely decent teams will lay an egg from time to time; Michigan State and Nebraska worry me. No, they aren’t good teams, BUT they are underachieving teams with talent, and such teams can always be dangerous, especially if you overlook them.

Michigan is still a level above us, and Northwestern: dreadfully bad team but you never know. We managed to lose to Indiana so…

Still, it was a fun game, even if the stadium was 3/4 full.

Illini win 9-6 slugfest with Iowa

Most services I read predicted a low scoring, hard hitting game, and that is what we got. Drives, field was 6-6 at the half, with one of the Iowa field goals coming when Illinois fumbled a punt…held and forced an Iowa punt, then got another fumble at the Illini 5.

Iowa mounted an “almost drive” and missed a go-ahead field goal (very long attempt) right before the half.

The first half did see a key wide receiver and starting QB go out with ankle injuries, though the back up QB had starting experience from last year, and is capable.

Not much happened in the 3’rd and 4’th quarter until a long Illinois drive put them in position to kick the go ahead field goal.

But on 3’rd and 9, there was an apparent fumble that was returned for an Iowa TD, but reply showed the Illini quarterback’s elbow was down prior to losing control of the ball.

The Illini made the field goal, then forced an interception on the next series. But the Iowa defense used time outs to get the ball back, but he ineffective Iowa offense could do nothing.

I enjoyed the trip with Tracy;

The crowd as almost 45,000, which is the largest since September, 2016.

Note: no troubles walking to and from the car..that is a blessing.

What will happen tonight?

I am watching some football on TV, thinking about tonight’s Iowa at Illinois game. THIS YEAR, Illinois appears to be better, but Iowa isn’t that bad (two non-embarrassing losses) and still has a chance.

And the Illini will lay an egg sometime.

I’ll take the Illini to win and cover the spread (4 points).

I still got my workout in.

I’ve had some issues with the back/glute/leg (left); hot spot where the IT band inserts but this is probably due to the back.

I started with a slow warm up walk. It didn’t go great, but the PT afterward DID go well..
Then a somewhat faster paced 4 mile walk; again, it was NOT peaches and cream, but..well, no pain..just “thereness” and “not quite energetic.”

Ok, the 4 miler was not much of an effort.

This is one of my back stretches. Note the awful knees.

Kicking off October with a race and football

AM: only exercise was a race: it was to be enough today. it was a campus 5K and I was to power walk it (right support leg was slightly bent which would be a race walk violation)

1 mile warm up (16 minute) after all of my PT and I stretched my shins.

5K in 33:31. (10:42 mpm) It was not one of my faster walks (of all time) but it was my fastest walk in several years and uncomfortably close to some of my 2018-2019 “runs”.

Then a 1 mile cool down.

I did resort to some “street walking” early in mile 3 as I sped up in mile 2, trying to catch some slower runners. That was a mistake; I am not used to pushing myself like that. But as I walk more, I’ll get better.

Glute: felt is slightly in the evening after sitting for a long time.

I was good to see Mike again; I remember him from a race in 1997 when I chased him and Danny (and someone else) during the Crime Stoppers 5K.

It was a perfect day for walking.


I watched most of Illinois 34-10 destruction of Wisconsin; the game did not start well with Wisconsin taking advantage of the Illini’s stacked defense and passing very well. It was 7-0 early and 10-7. But two Wisconsin interceptions set the Illini up with short fields and gave them a 14-10 lead.

At this point, it appeared that the Illini were taking over and dominating. Second half: drive to put it 21-10 and then:

That lead to a field goal; then on the next drive, the Illini star running back broke a 49 yard touchdown run (after being bottled up for most of the game)

and it was 31-10; 34-10 final.

It as if the teams had reversed their traditional roles; the Illini were the disciplined team and the Badgers were just sloppy: multiple penalties, fumbles, interceptions, etc.

I see the Illini, along with the Boilermakers (who beat Minnesota) and the Gophers (especially if they get their star running back back) as the top 3 contenders for the Big Ten West….though all teams are 1-1…whoops ..Badgers are 0-2. I am scouting out Illinois vs Northwestern tickets..might go to that game.

Late I switched to Navy vs Air Force and while the Mids tied it at 10 in the 4’th, the Falcons made that key drive to kick a field goal to win 13-10. Mids are looking better than the they did in the beginning of the season, but could improve some more.

Later: I went to a very entertaining Southern Illinois vs Illinois State game.

Early on: all Salukis. ISU had to answer to their short (and long) passing game, and aside from a missed and blocked extra point, it was domination: 19-0 at the half.

But then in the short third quarter, ISU found short passing game of their own and the second half was a mirror image of the first: 19-7 after 3, then 19-14 early in the 4’th. But then on ISU’s final drive (using tempo), there was a critical “no call” on PI in the end zone…then ISU failed on 4’th down.

There was 1:35 left in the game and ISU had 3 time outs. But the Salukis made a first down to seal the win.

Some sights:

Up too late

I was up too late watching Illinois beat FCS Chattanooga 31-0 in a game that was even more lopsided than the score might indicate. It was 24-0 at the half, and the Illini worked on clock and played a lot of guys in the 4’th quarter.

So, I went with PT and a 3 mile (3.3) walk and then a commuter walk over lunch.

Back to the Illini: I am watching Virginia go toe to toe with Syracuse; this is a team that Illinois dominated. Evidently the Illini are not a joke any longer.

Illinois State Defense powers 35-7 win over Eastern Illinois

Eastern came in with a narrow loss to FBS Northern Illinois (34-27) and a 38-20 loss to Tennessee Chattanooga (Illinois next opponent)

And at first..the Redbirds forced a punt and then scored on their first possession possession off of a long drive. But Eastern answered with a drive of their own, getting receivers wide open over the middle. So, it was 7-7 in the first and I settled in for a shootout.

The Redbirds countered with another drive to lead 14-7..then the tide really started to turn.

A 41 yard interception return just before the half (Eastern tried for one last drive) made it 21-7 at the half.

It was to get worse.

Second half: the Redbirds had a fourth and short inside the Eastern 40 but decided to pooch punt it, and downed the ball at the 1! That paid off as a screen pass was intercepted at the 2 and run in for the score, and now it was 28-7.

The Redbird defense took over after than, getting a fumble recovery at the 4 yard line (after a bad shotgun snap..Eastern had trouble with this for much of the second half)

That made it 35-7, and then the Redbirds focused on running and grinding out the clock.

The Redbirds sacked the quarterback 4 times and had 11 tackles for losses. In fact, until the final Eastern drive, they had negative yards rushing.

Illinois D shines in 24-3 win over Virginia

This was a game to savor; ok; it was a highly imperfect game. It started with 2 Illini turn overs; pass interception on the 2’nd play of the game, and a fumble on the next series. The latter lead to a Virginia field goal and 3-0 UVa lead.

After that, it was all Illinois, though the Illini were to turn it over two more times.

The game was sloppy, no doubt. UVa had a shot gun center snap go over the quarterback’s head, and a fumble on a punt return was recovered in the end zone for a 7-3 Illinois lead.

The Illini then took over; a couple of drives lead to a 21-3 lead in the 2’nd quarter.

Then the Illini, pinned at the 4 yard line, drove the ball 96 yards only to fumble on a completed pass on the 1 yard line. But it was still 21-3 at the half.

Illinois mostly stuck to the ground game in the second half, though they used their tight ends a bit, and in the 3’rd quarter, made a short field goal, while missing two more.

In the 4’th quarter, Virginia used a long quarterback run to get to the 5 with 1 minute left, and the fans still left were chanting for the Illini to hold the line..and they did!

Overall, the Illini dominated 394-222 in yards, despite slowing things down with the big lead. But mistakes kept the game “closer” on the score board than it really was. It really was a dominant win.

Other games: well, Navy got whipped, as I expected. Texas played Alabama to a 1 point loss, and Notre Dame lost to Marshall (underrated team..but still).

I caught the end of Illinois State vs. Valpo and ISU pulled it out 28-21. Pity the Illinois game was at 3 instead of 11: Harry and I could have had a double header.

Catch up (all over the place)

Sports (spectator)

No live football this weekend but a couple of Chiefs games on tap. Ok, I saw one last night; the Timberrattlers pitching kept the Chiefs at bay and allowed no hits through 7 innings; the Chiefs got 2 in the 8’th and even loaded the bases, but could only get one run. Still it was 2-1 going into the 9’th when the visitors got 2 more and won 4-1.

But there was at least a little bit of excitement. And it was fun to have the wife along.

TV football: I missed Illinois State getting run over by Wisconsin 38-0; I didn’t miss Navy getting outplayed by Delaware and losing 14-7. First 3 plays told the story: play one, Navy fumbled it to Delaware. Play 2: pass interference on Navy (obvious call). Play 3: Blue Hen touchdown.

I also watched Illinois lose to Indiana 23-20. The Illini were hurt by a bad call on a pass in the end zone

but still lead 20-16 with 2 minutes to go and the Hoosiers 75 yards away with no time outs. But the defense, which had switched to more blitzing to stop Indiana’s passing, played soft and allowed a march down the field.

Time and time again, the Illini made bad decisions and mistakes. Here, they passed on a field goal and went for it on 4’th down..leading by 1.

The positives is that the running game and short passing game looked decent for most of the night, and Virginia, the next opponent, gave up 170 rushing yards to FCS Richmond. But the problem will be Virginia’s passing: we don’t defend the pass well…not without blitzing. I still think this match up favors Illinois and I expect a hard fought win.


Saturday: PT, walk 1 (hard 5K), weights. Then a slow second walk after watching a football game on TV.

The first one tired me out a bit; I went pretty hard.

Pull ups: 12 sets of 5 with either 30 seconds rest or PT rest, push ups: 3 sets of 30 incline, 10 flat

bench press: I found that I still had back issues with my feet on plates; legs up is the best:

5 x 156, 4 x 156, 10 x 134, 10 x 134
curls 3 sets of 10

high incline: 3 sets of 10 x 94

Then came the 2 mile walk (after watching TV); first 1.5 was very pleasant ..some issues in the final 0.5

Today still some stuff with the back; I have to remember to NOT arch when I roll.

Went out for a walk intending 1-2 but felt good enough to do a slowish 5K; some issues in the final 0.5 miles or so.

Note: my Garmin recorded my watch stops to cross roads; those amounted to about 30 seconds or a 10 seconds per mile faster pace, but it does not matter.

After that, shoulder PT and deadlifts:

low: 10 x 134, 10 x 184
backed off the heavier sets: 10 x 234 4 inch

10 x 260 8 inch (easy)

My back won’t allow for true strength training; I am working to keep tone in my glutes and legs.

Back: sometimes I get the radiating pain on my back when I roll, and I think it is because I am used to arching my back when I roll.
I need to work on that, and I need to figure out a nice posture for my downhill walking. Flat walking and uphill walking is progressing nicely.

Illinois off to a flying start

Well, after this unexpectedly convincing 38-6 win (and the Illini ran out the clock at the Wyoming 14, passing up the opportunity for another score), I found myself nitpicking the team’s performance:

“well, Wyoming ran it well in spots and had success on the quarterback bootleg….and the field goal unit needs work..(2 misses, and a less than crisp snap on one of them)”

When I found myself doing that..that is a good place to be in.

I honestly don’t know how good Wyoming is or isn’t; they won their bowl last year but lost a ton of talent and had a new quarterback. And it was HOT…they had to be dying out there (Illini sideline is in the shade).

Many of the fans escaped from the upper deck and plopped themselves where ever they saw something empty..glad I had my mask..but that added to the heat.

Back to the game: the experience in walking over I described in a previous post. To be able to walk to the stadium from the garage and not be in pain was a blessing that I really enjoyed.

Illinois started out like a ball of fire: a big kick return put them on the 48; then two plays later (38 yard run, 14 yard pass) saw the Illini up 7-0.

They returned to being sort of normal for a while…and Wyoming eventually pieced together a drive that gave them 3 points. Second quarter saw the Illini defense smother the Cowboys and a touchdown and a field goal right before the half: 17-3.

At the time, I said this:

And they did…but not before the Cowboys got an impressive drive to cut it to 17-6. After domination with the back up quarterback and skill position players getting a final TD to push it to 38-6…and passed on a final score.

At ten minutes into the video, check out the run (runner rolled over a body and kept going) and the devastating pancake block by no. 54.

Upshot: ESPN’s computer LOVED the performance by the Illini; the expected win total climbed from 4.5 to 5.9, and many of the games where the Illini were underdogs have become toss ups.

Interesting that the Illini got more credit than Northwestern did for the latter’s more impressive win over Nebraska.

I honestly don’t know what will happen. My guess is that 6-6 sounds about right (though 7-5 or 8-4 are not out of the question…ok, neither is 5-7). I need to see what the Illini do in the next two weeks.
Sweep: I’ll think 7-8 victories. Split: I’ll think “ok, a bowl is possible, even likely. Get swept: “same old stuff.”

It is my OPINION that Indiana, Virginia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Purdue Northwestern are all toss ups, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State are likely losses and FCS UT-Chat is a likely win. Win 3 of the 7 toss up games and the likely win gets us to 5. Win 4 of the 7 sends us to a bowl.

Colts 27 Patriots 17

Yes, the Patriots outgained the Colts, who got less than 50 net passing yards. But thanks to two interceptions and a blocked punt, the Colts lead 17-0 at the half and 20-0 early in the 3’rd due to another interception.

But the Patriots rallied and eventually cut it to 20-17, when the Colts broke a long run against a stacked defense; when they split the defensive backs it was all over.

The crew and some stills:

Some of my videos: