Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank According to legend, the traditions of both homecoming and tailgating started at my alma mater, the University of Illinois. Although it’s difficult to scientifically prove these facts, anyone who’s seen a football game at the newly renovated Memorial Stadium would concur. Homecoming, the Christmas of college football, saw Illinette alumni dancing on the sidelines, marching band alumni sitting in with the current band and myself working and socializing with my fellow media alums at this year’s Champaign campaign. Like Kanye West & Coldplay’s Chris Martin sing, “I’m coming home again.”
However, what we lacked was a win over a 12 point underdog University of Minnesota team that Illinois out-gained in total yardage 550-312. Next to me in the press box was my Lakeview neighbor, and UI classmate, Paul Schmidt of Chicago Sporting.com. We witnessed the Illini making a lot of mistakes: short yardage inefficiencies, twice kicking off out of bounds for some odd reason. (I didn’t get the press release stating that the Golden Gophers had Devin Hester as their return specialist.) From our 8th floor vantage point, the two of us might have sounded like a young-man college football version of the Muppets’ Statler & Waldorf. (Two old guys in the balcony always criticizing the show.) (“You know the Illini red zone offense isn’t half bad,” and then the other could respond, “no they’re all bad.” Ok, we didn’t really do that, but you get the idea!
Conversely, the 27-20 outcome had some bright spots. Sophomore stud wide receiver Arrelious Benn set new career highs in receptions (12) and yards (181, 5th most in school history). “The things that we did and the plays that we made, as far the numbers, I would never have thought we would lose, but that’s how stuff goes,” Benn said.
Benn’s mentee, freshman receiver A.J. Jenkins also had a huge day catching a career high three passes for 117 yards and 2 TDs. “Rejus has kind of been a big brother to me,” said Jenkins. Of course, I can’t write an Illini post without mentioning Illini junior QB Juice Williams, who set a Memorial Stadium (est. 1924) record for single game passing yards (462) and total offense (503). It was the second highest total offense total in school history behind Dave Wilson in 1980. However, Head Coach Ron Zook said it best in the post game presser, “we had a lot of great individual performances today, but this is a team game, not an individual game. And the object is to win.” For more Chicago Sports Analysis and discussion.
For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”