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Gettin' Familiar With: Illinois

Some of you anticipated the drastic downturn in my posting ability once I got to school and classes started and a smaller and smaller percentage of my day became made up of me lying in bed watching Chappelle's Show and Futurama on Netflix until my brain turned into some sort of fine stew. Surprisingly, you were kinda right. But not that right. Expect two posts every day, except, you know, Mondays, because those are like the most impossible. Maybe one of these punks will write something then.

Anyway, Northwestern plays football this week and that means all the things about football season related to how much I'm gonna post. I'm currently writing from the line to sign up for IM sports at Patten Gym where I wish I wasn't, since I'm not a fan of watching dudes sleep.

Thus far: Oh snap! Illinois is 4-0! That means they're good at most, if not all, of the footballs. 

The real thing to note is a 17-14 victory at home over No. 22 Arizona State. Me likey Arizona State, as I spend upwards of 23 hours a day preparing for Vontaze Burfict to kill me and then disembowel me and then kill me again, so I consider this impressive. That game, as you might be able to tell from the score, was a defensive masta killing by the Illini, who bullied poor 6-foot-8 Brock Osweiler and made him feel sad. The rest were ho-hum victories over teams you ain't care bout: Arkansas State, South Dakota State, and Western Michigan. The victory over Western Michigan is somewhat noteworthy as the Broncs Broncos pushed Illinois to the limit, running an uber-airy spread as Alex Carder threw the ball 48 times, taking the lead into the half and tying the game at 20-20 in the fourth quarter beCfore Derek Dimke went and ruined things by kicking the ball through a set of yellow uprights at the Western Michigan end of the field signifying three points for the Illinois team. Anyway, this 4-0 thing is why they're No. 24 in the AP poll and more importantly, No. 21 in the blogpoll

When they got the ball: Right in my Scheelhaase, yo. The key to all them Illinis is Nathan Scheelhaase on offense, in case you don't remember, he's their quarterback player. Illinois is obviously a running team - remember last year's game AHHH AHHH MIKEL LESHOURE MEMORIES PAIN PAIN PAIN - keeping the ball on the ground more than twice as much as they pass, as they did last year, having attempted 84 passes thus far but run the ball 197 times. However, don't mean there ain't lotsa Scheelhaase: he runs very well and is murder in the option. He's run the ball 56 times and passed it 66, and busted out 93 yards against SDSU. When he passes, he's been pretty good against pretty bad teams. Last year he threw twice as many TD's as picks as a freshman, and that trend of accuracy has continued, as he's currently completing 71.2 percent of his passes. He's looking to develop into a true dual threat. The only WR worth worrying about is AJ Jenkins, the 6-foot-1 senior who has over half of Illinois' receiving yards. At running back, Jason Ford starts but actually has less yards thus far than one of his backups, Troy Pollard, and three more than another, Donovonn Young. Pollard and Young are listed as OR and OR starters with a third player, Josh Ferguson, but each had 100 yards on the ground against WMU. (Like I said, murder in the option.)

Us and them: Northwestern has a pretty solid series with the U of I: 46-53-5, which means there's like a decent chance Northwestern could some day be .500 with them! (Winning six of the last eight helps.)

When we got the ball: CRAP CRAP CRAP THEY PLAY DEFENSE GOOD. Illinois has only allowed 226 yards rushing, which is a problem, because that's in all four games. By comparison, NU gave up 380 or something like that against Army. I would look it up but then I'd start crying and the tears would soak my computer and then it would break. The most merciless playing of the defense came against Arizona State. 34 rushes for 106 yards wasn't bad - hey, that's 3.1 yards a carry! - so they decided to try throwing the ball. Two picks and six sacks later were why this was silly. Illinois d-line, actually anchored by WHITNEY MERCILUS is good. So is their defense with senior safeties Tavon Wilson, who leads the team in tackles, and Trulon Henry, who has two picks on the year. (names names names.) Their scheme features a bandit, Michael Buchanan, who has 3.5 sacks. They enjoy blitzing a lot.