Breaking down and analyzing the 2018 Illinois Fighting Illini football schedule.
2018 Illinois Fighting Illini Football Schedule Analysis
– At the very least, the likely make-or-break year of the Lovie Smith era starts out with two layups. If the Illini can’t beat Kent State or Western Illinois, there’s a massive problem. USF makes the trip up to Chicago for an interesting moment to see where Smith’s program is at. It might not be a date with a Power Five team, but it’ll be a desperately-needed, brand-name win – if it can get it.
– The Big Ten season kicks off with a pop, hosting Penn State in Champaign. If USF is an important moment for Illinois, this is the measuring-stick game to see just how far it has to go – if at all – before becoming a real factor in the conference.
The two other interdivisional dates are against Rutgers and Maryland on the road – that’s not bad. There’s no Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State.
– The second half of the season is a problem with four of the last six games on the road, including trips to Wisconsin and Nebraska. Minnesota and Iowa have to come to Illinois, and the Northwestern game isn’t exactly like a true road game, but it’s still going to be a tough run to close things out.