WCIA — After a five week stretch in the Top 25 polls for the first time in a decade, Illinois’ run as a ranked team came to an end Sunday as they were left out following a 31-24 loss to Purdue.
The Illini did receive 13 votes, showing up in three different voters polls. They no longer control their own destiny in the race for the Big Ten West title, but with help and two wins against Michigan and Northwestern the Illini can still finish strong and win a very messy division.
“Obviously it’s a race that’s nowhere close to being done,” said Bret Bielema. “I think the only thing we can worry about now is getting Illinois football good at Illinois football. We really wanted to focus on playing Purdue, a divisional opponent, a rematch game. This was our sixth rematch game, our first failure in a rematch.”
“The pressure to get there really existed in this building, within ourselves,” said linebacker Tarique Barnes. “But we still have next week, the week after. We still have time to play good football.”
Illinois goes on the road for its final two games of the season, starting with a trip to the Big House to take on No. 3 Michigan. Kickoff is 11 a.m.