Saturday, August 30, 2008
Pregame Blog - Illinois vs. Missouri
Rejoice, college football fans, because your time is finally here! Yes, I'm talking about the opening weekend of the college football season. I'm sitting high atop the Edward Jones Dome anticipating the kickoff of the game between Illinois and Missouri. This game has been hyped like no other in recent memory, with both teams beginning the regular season in the Top 20. The atmosphere in and around the Dome is a festive one, with parties and gatherings going on outdoors, and now that fans are starting to file in, the place is taking on a sort of orange-goldish look. This is a rivalry that has taken on quite a life of its own, and is trying hard to stay along the same realm that the basketball series has done. Both coaches, Ron Zook of the Illini, and Gary Pinkel of the Tigers, are no stranger to atmospheres like this, and they each have their team as prepared for this game as possible. Missouri, which starts the season at #6 in the country, is led by their stellar quarterback, Chase Daniel and a star-studded receiver in Jeremy Maclin. The Tigers like to move it up and down the field, and with an offense as high-powered as this one is, they shouldn't have any trouble doing so. Trying to stop them will be an Illini defense that is getting better the older and more experienced it becomes. Doug Pilcher and David Lindquist lead a defensive front that will get some help from linebackers Brit Miller and Martez Wilson. Offensively for the Illini, Juice Williams returns for his junior year and will have some new bodies to turn to in the backfield. To replace the NFL-bound Rashard Mendenhall, the Illini will counter with a trio of backs, led by Daniel Dufrene and freshmen Jason Ford and Mikel Leshoure. Regardless of the outcome of this game, it promises to be a barn burner and the team coming out on top will have the early edge in the polls. Please stay tuned for a recap of the game coming some time this Labor Day Weekend.