Another football weekend

Saturday: saw the Illini dominate Northwestern 47-14. I figured the 6.5 point favorite Illini would win and cover the spread, but I had it something like 17-3. But NW had unforced turnovers and made unforced mistakes; this was very much unlike their play in recent years.

And 47-14 ..the game was actually worse. It was 28-0 right off the bat and 37-7 at the half. The Illini dominated every single phase of the game.

I treated my wife and nephew to Colonnades Club tickets as it was rather cold. I watched the first 3 quarters from my usual seats, and then climbed to the upper deck to get a sunset shot, then down to the horseshoe for the final few minutes.

Then we drove to Indianapolis to return her nephew and then take in the Buccaneers vs Colts game. The Colts lead 24-14 at the half and appeared to be on their way for a 3’rd quarter score, but a strip sack changed momentum.

The Bucs got to 31-24 before the Colts tied it on a long drive, featuring the run game they went away from. But with 2 minutes to go, Tampa drove in for the wining score with 22 seconds to go (seems familiar)

A long kick return gave the Colts some faint hope, but a final desperation pass was intercepted.

Some video and photos:

Never take things for granted (sports)

I admit that I didn’t think much of the Bradley vs. Howard game coming up; I knew that Howard was a very weak MEAC team that had not won much..if at all over the past few seasons. Then: Howard raced to a 19-3 lead, built the lead to 22 points in the second half and had the lead at 18 with 1:40 or so to go in the game and ended up winning 76-64…in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score made it look. So much for taking it for granted.

Then in the evening..we were at a hotel while the pain in our remodeled bathroom dried up..I watched the second half of the Texas vs Kansas football game. I had started watching Notre Dame at Virginia but the Irish had that one well in hand…and I saw, via ESPN, what was happening in the Texas game, so I switched it there. Kansas lead 14-0 before Texas tied it..then a 1 minute sequence in the second half happened:

Second half: Texas score to get it to 35-21; Kansas then ran it down the Longhorns’ throat to move to 42-21 But then Texas appeared to rally; it was 42-35 going into the 4’th.

Then came the surprise ending.
Kansas got a TD drive to go up 49-35. Texas got a blocked punt then cut it to one score 49-42.

Then a late drive…Kansas intercepts with 1:07 to go to stop it..but Texas has 3 time outs. A weak punt gives Texas great field position and they tie it with 22 seconds to go.
Then came the overtime:

The fans may have left the game before the overtime:

Texas took the lead but a 15 yard penalty gave Kansas a closer starting position for their drive. Then run it in to cut it to 56-55 and then…go for 2.

And so some unexpected drama went on. Note: ok, a 1-8 team beats a 4-5 team does not sound THAT shocking…but Kansas over Texas in FOOTBALL does. Go figure.

Now, if I had to rank “my” football teams:

  1. Notre Dame; not even close
  2. Illinois …yes, Illinois would beat Texas right now.
  3. Texas..bad season but still with some athletes
  4. Navy…bad season sans the athletes Texas has.

Back from Notre Dame vs Navy

And my only regret..besides Navy not winning, is that I didn’t get to watch Illinois beat Minnesota 14-6. The Illini are no longer a joke; if you under-estimate them you could be in trouble, even if you are a good team.

But..Illinois is not at a level to handle the opponent’s A game…not yet.

Yesterday: left about 7:30, which was somewhat too early, but not a LOT too early. Parked at the White Field (cheap Stub-hub parking pass); got a deal on “preferred seating” via Stubhub too.

The drive, with brief stops, is 4 hour-ish each way.

Ok, the game: ND won as expected 34-6, though Navy lead 3-0 after one, it was tied at 3 until 3 minutes to go in the first half and also had a long, time consuming drive in the 3’rd to cut the lead to 17-6.

But ultimately, ND was too much.

Ultimately, it was a great experience, except for the score.

Note: what really struck me was how full the place was 30 minutes to kickoff. At Illinois, the game itself isn’t that full; 30 minutes to kick off it is quite empty.

Last shot: teams stood with each other for each other’s song. Class act.

Illini revert to form: lose to Rutgers 20-14

Ok, this was a Big Ten game where two evenly matched team played hard..and reasonably well; no turnovers, few penalties.

So, from this fan’s perspective, the game was fun to the final result.

But as far as the game went: Rutgers outplayed us for most of the game. The Illini did tie the the game 7-7 off a nice touchdown pass; best of the season:

Rutgers took the lead 10-7 after a drive but the Illini countered with a drive followed by a very nice ..touchdown pass to the tight end..

And so it was 14-10 Illini at the half. I told my buddy that I had no idea as to who would win the football game.

Defenses ruled in the 3’rd quarter (Rutgers missed a field goal into the wind) and in the 4’th, Rutgers excellent punting paid off. The Illini were pinned deep. Rutgers ran some nifty quarterback keeps and hit some passes to take a 17-14 lead and another running dominated drive ended in a short field goal; it was 20-14 with just over 3 minutes to play.

The Illini managed to rally but the running plays consumed time…and it was just over 1:3x to go with 3’rd down and 2. An up the middle run gained 1.5 yards. But on 4’th down, a toss sweep was stuffed in the backfield and Rutgers took over, converted a 3’rd down on a spectacular quarterback keep and ran out the clock.

Navy 20 Tulsa 17

The night before, I caught this one on TV. And Navy came away with a hard fought 20-17 win over the Golden Hurricane…and had some huge plays.

  1. Navy made a 46 yard field goal.
  2. On this play, the Navy defensive back did not give up. He denied the Tulsa WR a touchdown..and it turns out Navy held Tulsa to a field goal on that possession.

Navy also got a lucky…ok, maybe “make your own luck” interception which denied Tulsa the touchdown

So, Navy played hard but had some luck.


Final shot: Rutgers field goal drive to seal the win.


Two on the road

I watched Illinois beat Penn State 20-18. Ok, this went to 9 overtimes, with overtimes 3-9 being a single 2 point conversion attempt. It was 10-10 in regulation and the teams traded 5 unsuccessful attempts at a 2 point conversion. Then in the 8’th, both teams made them.

Statistically, SAVE THE TURNOVERS, Illinois dominated the game, running almost at will between the 20’s. This was the mirror image of the Wisconsin game. But at the end of regulation, it was 10-10.

But this time, Illinois made the plays.

After that, I switched on ESPN+ to watch the conclusion of the Illinois State vs no. 15 South Dakota and the Redbirds held on to win, 20-14, making a stop on downs with 2 minutes to go (at the 4 yard line) and then getting an interception to seal the win.

I was wrong

Started with weights and 32 minutes on the exercise bike, and then I went to the Wisconsin at Illinois game.

I honestly thought that Wisconsin might be on its heels after playing (and losing to) Notre Dame, Penn State and Michigan. Wrong. What happened was that Illinois seemed like an easy opponent in comparison.

And Illinois close loss to Maryland? Maryland got slammed 51-14 and 66-17 in their last 2 games (Iowa and Ohio State). Game post in the second half of this post.

Weights: (rehab, right now, right arm is achy) and 32 minutes bike:

Deadlifts: 10 x 134, 10 x 184

working sets: 10 x 224, 4 sets of 3 x 256, 1 set of 3 x 261 (new set every 3 minutes for the set of 5)

High handle (4 inch): 3 x 274, 3 x 301 (easier than the 8 inch..slight twinge on final rep)

8 inch: 10 x 260 to finish off my quads.

Then the bike.

Rehab: I did fight off some tingles, but once again made it to the game and back without breaks. Injury is improving. I did stretch my back before walking.

Football game when with Harry; game was a beatdown from the first snap as the Wisconsin offensive line just pushed Illinois all over the place. Wisconsin’s drives stalled due to bad passing: field goal, interception (deep) but it was 10-0 at the half, and the lead felt like much more.

Surprisingly, Illinois didn’t even try to run the ball much at all at first; all passes. Wisconsin didn’t try to pass at first, all runs..long time sucking drives.

Two long drives in the 3’rd pushed it to 24-0.

Late in the game, thanks to pass interference penalties, Illinois had the ball 4’th and 10 at the Wisconsin 25 and fans in my section were yelling to kick the field goal to avert the all but certain shutout! Illinois went for it, didn’t make it, and toward the end, Wisconsin took a knee rather than a final “style points” score.

Photos: Harry and me, a bit of action; I was amused that the special teams had to work around the band to get their second half warm ups in, and the ugly stats line. Game felt a lot worse than 24-0.

Upper deck: not very well filled in.

A relatively good day.

What went right:
1. ok workout; 4 miles on the bike to warm up, rehab stretches, 6 more miles, stretches, then to the game; walk to and from the stadium was *almost* (Not quite) pain free. It was much better than the last two times.

2. Illinois won, based on 330+ rushing yards, though they trailed 14-10 at the half and were clinging to a 17-14 lead with 1 play left in the third period.

3. Navy came from 30-17 down to win 34-30 over a good UCF team. I was surprised by that.

Now, attendance was very light; 30,000 tickets were sold but maybe half of that was actually there?

Illinois game: first quarter was basically one possession by each team: Illini with a field goal, 49’ers with a touchdown.

Second quarter: it appeared that the Illini were going to take control up 10-7 but a fumble in scoring position wasted one opportunity. Then a long drive just before half put Charlotte up 14-10. Team was booed.

Second half a good drive put the Illini up 17-14 and then Charlotte appeared to be in position to tie or take the lead with a minute or so left in the quarter. But a tackle for a loss forced a 29 yard field goal attempt, which missed. Then next: 80 yard touchdown run.

That deflated Charlotte and the rest of the 4’th quarter was ball control by the Illini and some sacks of the 49’er quarterback.

Boys’ night out: Maryland at Illinois

The one downer: piriformis just ached…need to stretch after driving.

The rest of it: pretty fun..though the Illini lost.

I had predicted Maryland 42-31 and the game ended up being more of a defensive struggle, at least for 3 quarters.

Initially, not much; Illinois had a drive that ended in a blocked field goal; Maryland made theirs…then the Illini had a drive that ended in 3. So 3-3 at the half.

3’rd quarter saw a momentum shift. Maryland got the kickoff and marched 75 yards for a touchdown…easily. Illinois punted…another easy drive until a big hit forced a Maryland fumble at the Illini 11.

Then Illinois had a nifty 89 yard drive ending with a spectacular 30+ yard touchdown run to tie the game.

Later: Illinois forced another fumble..but threw an interception.

Early 4’th; breakway Illinois run looked like it would end with a fumble, but an alert Illini receiver picked it up and ran it in..17-10 early in the 4’th.

Maryland drove..but a TD was called back due to a chop block penalty.

It appeared that the Illini was going to put the game away but with 4’th and 1 at the Maryland 45, Illinois called on their punt team to pin Maryland deep.

Some fans did not like that call, but I did: the illini defense held Maryland to 10 points in the first 56 minutes and their punt team is outstanding.

But with 4 minutes to go, Maryland marched down the field and scored with just over 2 minutes to go to tie the game at 17.

Then came the last 2 minutes. The Illini used a time out and got a first down..but then 2 sacks and an intentional grounding penalty (QB threw to the center!) gave Maryland the ball back near midfield with about a 1 minute to go.

It didn’t take the Terps long to move the ball to field goal range, and they won it on the final play of the game.

Upside: defense played reasonably well. Ground game looked good at times.

Downside: it doesn’t appear the the O-line is used to pocket pass protection; most of these guys grew up on blocking on RPO’s and sprint out. QB got stacked and hurried many times.

September 12

Well, I definitely feel better. On Friday night, I found out that my “lab” COVID test (that I took on Thursday morning) was negative. So..whatever mystery illness I had, it wasn’t COVID.

Yesterday: watched some football on TV; grim news for me:

Virginia 42 Illinois 14

Air Force 23 Navy 3 (proved to be the most competitive game I watched)

Arkansas 40 Texas 21 (garbage time TD made it look closer)

At least Texas might have some wins on the horizon; Illinois is favored in one more game this season and even that is iffy. Now they are iffy underdogs to Northwestern…and it looks very grim for Navy.

Will I go to games?

The spread looks bad, but outdoors, with mask (yes, I am masking up) looks ok..especially for Illinois games. I haven’t seen any spikes around games as yet.

Why a mask? Droplet spread; aerosols won’t build up so the risk is mostly from droplets from nearby people, and masks do a great job filtering those.

Workout notes: yesterday: somewhat disappointing 1 mile walk; included a 2 mile before and 10 mile after bike; at least with the bike I did 5 harder miles (resistance up); lots of rehab.

Today: deadlifts and 2 mile walk (stretch at 1 mile and 1.6 miles); got to tingles; NOT to pain.

Deadlifts: were a bit disappointing; I knew I was weak on Wednesday.

10 x 134, 10 x 184 (ok)
10 x 224: a bit more work than I had hoped (shown)
5 sets of 3 x 251 (seemed I had no leg drive at all; sets 1 and 3 are shown)
high handle (skipped 4 inch handles; went to 8)
1 x 300 (bailed on rep 2; did not like how it felt)
3 x 300 (form was pretty bad)

But my legs got a workout and that is the point.