CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football scrimmaged for the second and final time during training camp on Monday, as the countdown to kickoff is down to just 12 days. The Illini built upon last week’s scrimmage, playing four quarters on the turf at Memorial Stadium. With practice 14 in the books, it’s getting to the point in camp when the players say they’re just ready to see someone in another uniform.

“Ready to get to the first game, we’ve been around each other and there’s a lot of testosterone in there so a bunch of guys waiting on it,” Illinois junior linebacker Tarique Barnes said. “We’re getting kind of chirpy on that end.”

“Just itching to play another team,” Illinois junior cornerback Devon Witherspoon added. “Having an opponent and playing on Saturdays.”

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said several players were limited to just one half or less on Monday, all precautionary to allow younger players the chance to show their potential. Alex Palczewski, Sydney and Chase Brown, Tommy DeVito, Johnny Newton, Quan Martin and Devon Witherspoon were all pulled. Bielema praised Martin, CJ Hart, Isaac Darkangelo, Caleb Griffin, Witherspoon and Hugh Robertson as guys who played well on Monday.

“We’ve really been preaching to our guys, before we learn how to win games you have to stop from losing,” Bielema said. “There are still a lot of things out there we can correct on film but for the most part, it was pretty clean.”

Illinois opens the season in a Week 0 game against Wyoming on Aug. 27 at 3 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

The first Associated Press Top 25 poll was released Monday with Alabama topping the preseason rankings for the ninth time. The Big Ten has four teams ranked, led by Ohio State at No. 2, Michigan at No. 8, Michigan State at No. 15 and Wisconsin at No. 18. Illinois hasn’t been ranked since 2011.


Released August 15

1Alabama (0-0)2SEC1,566 (54)
2Ohio State (0-0)6Big Ten1,506 (6)
3Georgia (0-0)1SEC1,455 (3)
4Clemson (0-0)14ACC1,292
5Notre Dame (0-0)8IA Independents1,242
6Texas A&M (0-0)SEC1,212
7Utah (0-0)12Pac-121,209
8Michigan (0-0)3Big Ten1,203
9Oklahoma (0-0)10Big 12956
10Baylor (0-0)5Big 12884
11Oregon (0-0)22Pac-12831
12Oklahoma State (0-0)7Big 12814
13North Carolina State (0-0)20ACC752
14USC (0-0)Pac-12711
15Michigan State (0-0)9Big Ten631
16Miami (FL) (0-0)ACC476
17Pittsburgh (0-0)13ACC383
18Wisconsin (0-0)Big Ten365
19Arkansas (0-0)21SEC348
20Kentucky (0-0)18SEC332
21Ole Miss (0-0)11SEC324
22Wake Forest (0-0)15ACC303
23Cincinnati (0-0)4American Athletic265
24Houston (0-0)17American Athletic263
25BYU (0-0)19IA Independents234

Others receiving votes: Tennessee 180, Texas 164, Iowa 163, Penn State 160, LSU 55, Fresno State 32, Minnesota 31, UCF 27, Purdue 17, Mississippi State 15, Auburn 15, Kansas State 14, Florida 14, North Carolina 9, Boise State 5, Air Force 4, Appalachian State 4, UCLA 2, San Diego State 2, South Carolina 2, Utah State 2, Nebraska 1