Will Illinois exceed expectations?
Illinois is loooking to over-achieve this year, while Indiana and Michigan State need to fix their defenses.
The Illini are a team that does well when the expectations are low. When they are picked to be in the mix they fall back but when they are pegged for the bottom third they usually surpass expectations. Illinois likes the underdog role and that's what it is this year.
Ron Turner is a quality coach and will be working with a veteran quarterback in Jon Beutjer, who looked good in the spring and has taken control of the team after feeling his way into the program as a transfer from Iowa last year. He should be much improved, even after completing nearly 60 percent of his passes and throwing 21 touchdown passes against just 11 interceptions, but will have to deal with the loss of his top four receivers from last season. The returning wideouts combined for all of one catch and seven receiving yards last season. Sophomore Kendrick Jones was a special-teamer last year and needs to become more consistent, while junior Ade Adeyemo and juco transfer Kelvin Hayden may have an impact.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Heat post season-high 122 in rout of Kings
- Rodgers still not ready to return for Packers
- UNC not applying for Hairston reinstatement
- Pacers crush Rockets to snap 2-game slide