WCIA — One short break is all Illinois football gets this season, a single bye week after getting two each of the last two seasons.
After that quick bye, Bret Bielema’s squad is right back into the season where they need to turn things around. Sitting at 3-5 on the season after a heartbreaker to Wisconsin, it is an interesting final four weeks of the regular season as Illinois needs three wins to make it to a bowl game. The Illini do have a couple of things going for them heading into Minnesota this weekend, as Bielema is a perfect 9-0 in his head coaching career against the Golden Gophers. And since taking over at Illinois, his teams are 3-1 coming off of bye weeks.
“It’s something I’ve taken a lot of pride in in what we do and how we do it,” Bielema said. “I think the key is being able to understand you get a little bit of a jump, but you also can overprepare for an opponent. So there’s a very delicate balance.”
“Got a lot of rest in. You play eight straight weeks and I think the main goal was to get our bodies back as a group and get some good rest in so we’re prepared for these last four games of our year,” Luke Altmyer said. “There is so much growth and I think productivity with this team on the field, obviously, but off the field as well.”
Last time Illinois went to Huntington Bank Stadium in 2021, it captured its second Top 25 win in three weeks knocking off the No. 20 Gophers. The stakes are not as high this time, but Minnesota has won back-to-back games and is one win away from the postseason. Kickoff is Saturday, Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.