Illinois coach Ron Zook was happy, but not content, on Sunday after hearing that his Illini had returned to the AP poll for the first time since September 2008.
Illinois joined the rankings at No. 24 following its 17-14 home win over previously-ranked Arizona State on Saturday.
“Obviously, it’s an honor and all that stuff,” Zook said during his Sunday teleconference. “Those guys understand it doesn’t mean anything right now. We have a long way to go. The one thing the game will do is help us achieve our goals.
“It was an important game, yes. It was a big game, yes. But we have a lot of them left.”
Saturday’s victory marked the Illini’s first over a ranked opponent since Nov. 10, 2007 when they upset top-ranked Ohio State. Illinois went on to play in the Rose Bowl that season.
What the Illini now hope to prevent is a letdown against a Western Michigan program which upset them in their last meeting. In 2008 at Ford Field in Detroit, Western Michigan topped Illinois, 23-17.
Western Michigan is 2-1 this season and is coming off a 44-14 win over its rival, Central Michigan. Broncos quarterback Alex Carder was 28-of-37 passing for 355 yards and three touchdown in the win, and wide receiver Jordan White had 13 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
“Obviously, we played at Ford Field [last season] and got embarrassed,” Zook said. “I was told by some people during the summer they probably have the best talent in the MAC. The quarterback is a great player. Every game is going to take a great effort.”
Zook said Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase’s shoulder was sore after he bruised it during Saturday’s win, but said it wouldn’t be an issue this week. Zook had no other injuries to report.