WCIA — Coming off its 34-10 rout of Wisconsin, Illinois received six votes in the AP Top 25 poll on Sunday, the first time since after defeating Michigan State in 2019.
Oct. 16, 2011 was the last time Illinois was actually ranked, following a 6-0 start to the season and coming off a loss to Ohio State. With Kansas entering the Top 25 Sunday, Illinois now holds the mark for longest current poll drought for a Power 5 team. After a 4-1 start to the season and a big win over the Badgers, there is hope that could be broken soon.
“One of the first Football 101 graphics I showed them was when I arrived here, the last five Big Ten West titles were Northwestern and Wisconsin. Wisconsin had won three, Northwestern had won two,” Bielema said after the game Saturday. “Obviously Iowa did last year, but when I got here that was the graphic I showed them. I said, ‘If you want to get to where you want to be, we’re going to have to take care of these teams.’ A lot went into today beyond the preparation for this week and I’m excited to see that.”
The Illini are now 2-1 against the Wildcats and Badgers since. Junior Chase Brown was a big reason why Illinois was able to put Wisconsin away, as he rushed for 129 yards and held on to the No. 1 spot in the nation.
“I had high expectations myself and I knew what I was capable of,” Brown said. “With the guys in front of me, I knew what we were all capable of. The fact that we’re able to do this on a weekly basis just makes it even better. We gotta stay consistent, playing good, complimentary football. The turnovers were huge today. The defense got the ball for us, we put it in the endzone. That’s complimentary football.”
Illinois now prepares for Iowa on Oct. 8. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m.