CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The next five games will go a long way into defining the trajectory of the Illinois football program under head coach Lovie Smith. Win a couple games and the staff will clearly be able to show progress to recruits and Illini Nation. Lose and there will be major questions heading into the offseason. Regardless, the players say they’re optimistic about the opportunities ahead.
“There’s a lot of positivity still going,” Illinois senior captain offensive lineman Nick Allegretti said. “We’ve played some tough teams, lost to some tough teams but we know that we have five games and we’ll be in all five of those but we know that this one is huge.”
Illinois’ next three games come against teams with a combined Big Ten record of 3-10. Maryland is 2-2, Minnesota is 0-4 and Nebraska is 1-4. Illinois sits at 1-3 in the league with a 3-4 record overall.