Saturday, September 17, 2011
It's game day in Champaign
By Adam Rittenberg
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Greetings from Illinois' Memorial Stadium, where tonight No. 22 Arizona State and Illinois will meet for the right to start 3-0 and earn a bit more national respect.
It's a beautiful day in central Illinois, and while I've been in the press box for a very long time, it looks like a fun scene around the stadium. Weather should be very comfortable tonight.
Arizona State and Illinois boast identical records and similar profiles as programs that always seem to have the talent to turn a corner but, for various reasons, struggle to do so. These are the types of showcase games both programs tend to lose, but one team will walk out of here feeling very good about itself.
Illinois is looking for its first win against a ranked opponent since 2007, when it knocked off top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus en route to a Rose Bowl appearance.
This is a matchup I circled before the season as a potential swing game for Illinois. The Illini beat up on Arkansas State and South Dakota State, but they'll be tested much more by a talent-stocked Arizona State team.
Quarterbacks Brock Osweiler (Arizona State) and Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois) both come in with a lot of confidence, and they have solid weapons around them. Both offenses can put up a ton of points, and this game could come down to which defense makes momentum-turning plays in the fourth quarter.
I'm extremely excited to see Sun Devils linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the flesh, and also how Illinois is replacing three NFL draft picks on the defensive side.
Keep it right here for coverage of Arizona State-Illinois throughout the night.