College Football News Preview 2020: Illinois Fighting Illini

Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

College Football News Preview 2020: Illinois Fighting Illini


College Football News Preview 2020: Illinois Fighting Illini


College Football News Preview 2020: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Illinois Fighting Illini season with what you need to know.

CFN in 60 Podcast: 2020 Illinois Fighting Illini
2020 Illinois preview in 30 seconds

Contact/Follow @ColFootballNews & @PeteFiutak

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Schedule Analysis
– Illinois Previews 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2019 Record: 6-7 overall, 4-5 in Big Ten
Head Coach: Lovie Smith, 5th year, 15-34 overall
2019 CFN Final Opinion Ranking: 50
2019 CFN Final Season Formula Ranking: 69
2019 CFN Preview Ranking: 65

NOTE: Obviously, no one knows what’s going to happen to the 2020 college football season. We’ll take a general look at where each team stands – doing it without spring ball to go by – while crossing our fingers that we’ll all have some well-deserved fun this fall. Hoping you and yours are safe and healthy.

5. College Football News Preview 2020: Illinois Fighting Illini Offense 3 Things To Know

– The Illinois offense wasn’t exactly a smoothly run organization. The running game was okay at times, and the passing attack came through late when it had to in a few huge upsets, but for the most part, it was a struggle.

The Illini finished 112th in the nation in total offense, but it made the yards count with a not-awful 26.7 points per game. However, the O almost never had the ball – long, sustained drives were a rumor – and the attack fell flat late in the season.

There’s hope for a boost, though, with four starters back on what should be a good line, a deep group of quarterbacks to play around with, and with almost all of the key targets back. It all starts with …

CFN in 60 Video: Illinois Fighting Illini Preview

– The quarterback situation. It would’ve been nice to have had a full offseason of practices to come up with a good pecking order, but at least there’s a nice group of options in place.

Former Michigan transfer Brandon Peters was okay last season, but the accuracy wasn’t there and he didn’t do enough to move the chains. Former super-recruit Isaiah Williams got his feet wet, but he only played in four games to preserve his four years of eligibility. Sophomore Matt Robinson stepped in when Peters got hurt.

The receiving corps is there to do a whole lot more, starting with senior Joel Imaorbhebhe – a former USC transfer with next-level upside. In all, five of the top seven targets are expected back, former Miami Hurricanes Brian Hightower should be a factor, former Georgia super-recruit Luke Ford will get his shot at tight end, and the passing game should be more consistent.

The offensive line didn’t do enough in pass protection, and the running game was just okay, but there’s a lot to like if the all-star parts can stay healthy. Four starters return with at least two years of starting experience – junior Kendrick Green is growing into a star at guard, and center Doug Kramer is strong – and now this has to be a plus.

Top running back Reggie Corbin left early for the NFL – and went undrafted –  and No. 2 guy Dre Brown is done, too. Ra’Von Bonner has seen enough work to get the early call, and 2017 leading rusher Mike Epstein is back after an injury-plagued few seasons. Star recruit Reggie Love might have the door wide open right away for his services.

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Illinois Fighting Illini Defense 3 Things To Know


More College Football News