CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Bret Bielema’s first season with Illinois is coming at just the right time. After a year full of quarantines, isolation, and plenty of COVID protocols, a football season that looks close to normal is on the horizon.

Memorial Stadium will open to full capacity this fall when the Illini kick off the season against Nebraska. This week, the Univeristy of Illinois announced they weren’t putting any restrictions on attendance due to the State of Illinois moving into Phase Five of the Restore Illinois plan. This applies to all Illini sports, including indoor ones.

“Just couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity for us as a football program but more importantly for our fans,” says Bielema. “It’s really an exciting time and I can’t promise or guarantee where it’s going to go, I just know it’s going to be good. I’d love to have everybody there as best we can and I couldn’t be more pumped with where we’re at.”

The program has also been able to host recruits for in-person official visits. Bielema says most the team has also been vaccinated. While these are all steps towards getting back to normal, Bielema says winning football games is all that’s left to do.

“Everybody’s excited, and hopefully season ticket sales will reflect that, but we haven’t won a game yet,” says Bielema. “So I think until we start putting the proof on the field, that’s when the true results will happen. Obviously to kick off the football season against Nebraska that needs to mean something for us so the best way we can have an advantage here at Memorial Stadium is to have a packed house.”