Illini Coach Tim Beckman has really stuck it to the media by not giving much information on the status of his quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase. When asked about Scheelhaase’s status, Beckman was vague and said that it is “not a high ankle sprain,” but it is “dealing with his ankle.” He said that Scheelhaase was walking on the ankle, but was not 100% in practice.
Scheelhaase is undoubtedly the Illini’s best and most experienced offensive player. His absence in Saturday’s game at ASU will seriously hinder the Illini’s chances of winning. A win in Tempe would be huge for the Illini in their quest to win every non-conference game. Last week, Arizona State thrashed Northern Arizona 63-6.
All teams in The Big Ten took care of business last week except for Michigan and Penn State. Many knew that Michigan did not stand a chance against Alabama, but it was clear that Alabama is in a league of its own. Michigan is one of the best teams in the Big Ten conference and they got embarrassed by one of the SEC powerhouses.
What does this say about our conference? First of all, it says that Michigan isn’t really that good and didn’t deserve their top-ten preseason ranking. After they received their nationally televised beat down they were bumped down to No. 19, and will need to do some serious routing of their own in order to be reconsidered for the top 10.
Other Big Ten teams who stand in the AP Top 25 include No. 11 Michigan State, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 14 Ohio State and No. 16 Nebraska.
What does Michigan’s loss mean for Illinois? Not too much…yet. If this loss says anything, it’s that Michigan really isn’t that good and the Illini will have to wait a couple weeks to see if this is fact. If so, it means that the Illini have a better chance of sparking an upset in Ann Arbor. Every conference win is crucial for the Illini and an away win against a team like Michigan could really start putting that idea in people’s minds. What idea you ask? The one where it’s actually a possibility that the Illini can make it to the conference championship in Indy.
One thing that we can be certain about is that if Scheelhaase is not healthy, I have a better chance of finding Mitt Romney’s tax returns than the Illini do finding a viable replacement for their quarterback. Backup quarterbacks Miles Osei and Reilly O’Toole are not nearly polished nor experienced enough to lead this team to a division title. At the end of the day, the Illini’s season looks like it will rest in Nathan Scheelhaase’s hands. Or ankles. My prediction is that he will be ready to play and that Beckman wants Arizona State to prepare for the slight chance that he isn’t able to go. If he’s not, this could be an ugly one.
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