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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Head coach Ron Zook sort of let this slip out during Tuesday's news conference, but Illinois' home contest against Fresno State has officially been moved from Nov. 21 to Dec. 5.
The Illini will wrap up Big Ten play Nov. 14 against Northwestern and then have an open date Nov. 21 before visiting defending Big East champ Cincinnati. The Cincinnati game is currently scheduled for Nov. 28, but don't be surprised if it moves to Friday, Nov. 27, to accommodate a national TV audience. Then Illinois will wrap up against Fresno State at Memorial Stadium.
That means December football in Champaign. Feel the brrrr! It marks the first December home game in team history (there have been several on Nov. 30).
Illinois now will have two open dates in its schedule, as it won't play Sept. 19 before opening the Big Ten slate against defending co-champs Ohio State and Penn State. The schedule setup is far from ideal, but the extra open date should be helpful in the long run.
There is one problem with adjusted schedule, as the (Decatur) Herald & Review's Mark Tupper points out in his blog. Illinois' men's basketball team is tentatively scheduled to play Gonzaga in Chicago on Dec. 5, which would hurt football attendance even if the games start at different times.
Illinois does not want two major events on the same day. So, it's possible the basketball game might be shifted to Sunday. Gonzaga just ended its season so the subject supposedly hasn't been addressed with them, but they'll have to be if the football switch happens.
Here's Illinois' updated 2009 schedule