Commentary

Illini might not like this movie's ending

Originally Published: October 26, 2011
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

WEEK: Preseason | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:


Randy Meeks: "And No. 3: Never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, 'I'll be right back.' Cause you won't be back."

Stu Macher: "I'm getting another beer. You want one?"

Meeks: "Yeah, sure."

Macher: "I'll be right baaack!"

Meeks: "See? You push the laws and you end up dead. OK, I'll see you in a kitchen with a knife."

-- Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard, "Scream"

The Bottom 10 loves Halloween, especially scary movies. No matter how many times you see them, even when you know the ending, it still makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Kind of like college football. Just as Jamie Kennedy laid out the ground rules governing a good scary movie in Wes Craven's "Scream," college football fans know a gory ending when they see one. Which is why they shouldn't have been surprised to see Illinois go down for the second week in a row, this time to Purdue.

Florida fans, especially, have seen how this movie ends, so Illini fans are forgiven for covering their eyes.

After winning their first six games, their best start in 60 years, the Illini have lost consecutive games to struggling Ohio State (17-7) at home and at Purdue (21-14) last week. A third consecutive loss might be just around the corner when Illinois plays at No. 19 Penn State on Saturday.

Ron Zook has apparently ditched the costume he wore during the first six games of the season. You know, the one that made him look like a really good coach. Gators fans will tell you Zook has been masquerading as a head coach for years.

"You just don't get bad," Zook told reporters Tuesday. "You just don't become a bad coach. It just doesn't happen."

Of course, former New Mexico coach Mike Locksley, a one-time Zook assistant, proved some guys are actually born that way.

Some Bottom 10 teams are starting to turn the corner, shedding their frightening costumes of ineptitude and incompetence. UAB won its first game, upsetting Central Florida 26-24 in Birmingham, Ala. Memphis won its second game, 33-17 at Tulane. And Oregon State, which has played dead for much of the season, defeated Washington State 44-21 after spending the night in a Seattle hotel, which was also hosting something called zomBcon 2011.

The rest of the Bottom 10 will still be masquerading as football teams this weekend, despite much evidence to the contrary. College football fans have seen plenty of unsightly uniforms this season, but Bottom 10 teams might want to wear costumes to hide their true identities when they take the field this weekend.

As for Illinois, Zook is confident his team will respond well in Happy Valley. Dare he say that the Illini will be back? A frightening thought. He might want to freshen up on his scary movie rules.

With apologies to Steve Harvey, Jamie Kennedy and Wes Craven, here's this week's Bottom 10:

ESPN.com's Bottom 10
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1. New Mexico 0-7 Sue Sylvester: The Lobos, who lost at TCU 69-0 last week, might want to channel Sylvester, the bully cheerleading coach in "Glee," red jump suit and all, if they want to stop getting pushed around. The Bottom 10 has a feeling Locksley will be wearing a warm-up suit on some high school practice field next season.
2. Florida Atlantic 0-7 Charlie Sheen: Like the former star of the TV hit "Two and a Half Men," the Owls haven't been winning much of anything lately, either. Florida Atlantic lost its 10th straight game dating back to last season after falling last week to Middle Tennessee, 38-14.
3. Akron 1-6 "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": No matter how lame, Buffy's fight moves always seemed to work against whatever dark force or evil spirit she encountered. Maybe the Zips can use some of Buffy's magic to defeat Central Michigan in this week's Pillow Fight of the Week. Akron lost 37-20 to Ohio last week, falling to 0-3 in MAC play.
4. Kent State 1-6 "Superman": If only the not-so-Golden Flashes had the Man of Steel's X-ray vision. Then they might be able to see through the wall in front of opponents' end zones, because they certainly can't reach it on their own. Kent State has scored one offensive touchdown in its last three games and ranks dead last among FBS teams in scoring with 10.7 points per game.
5. Illinois 6-2 Killer in "Scream": Things started so brightly for the Illini; might they be taking a darker turn? Illini fans might want to cover their eyes the rest of the way, because this one could get ugly: No. 19 Penn State, No. 18 Michigan and No. 15 Wisconsin are next on the schedule.
6. UNLV 1-5 Roy Jones Jr.: Like the former boxing champion, the Rebels are used to getting beat up in Las Vegas, too. The Rebels, who lost to FCS foe Southern Utah 41-16 at home on Sept. 24, host Colorado State on Saturday night.
7. Minnesota 1-6 The Situation: Kind of like Abercrombie & Fitch did with the cast member of "Jersey Shore," the Big Ten might eventually ask the Gophers not to publicize their conference affiliation. The Gophers lost 41-14 to Nebraska last week, the third straight game in which they've allowed 40 points or more.
8. Indiana 1-7 Indianapolis Colts: The Hoosiers and Colts suddenly have a lot in common: seven losses, lousy defenses and no hope in sight. At least the Colts still have a quarterback coming to save the world next season. What's that QB's name? There's an ending even the Bottom 10 can't predict.
9. Colorado 1-7 Pan Am flight attendant: Are the Buffaloes going to start serving beverages and peanuts to opposing receivers? Colorado has allowed 20 passing touchdowns in eight games, tied with Kansas for the most allowed by a team from a BCS conference.
10. Idaho 1-6 Mr. Potato Head: Just make sure to leave off Mr. Potato Head's arms. The Vandals -- who apparently have just as much trouble tackling as they do holding on to the football -- had four turnovers and allowed a 100-yard kickoff return in last week's 31-24 loss at New Mexico State, their fifth consecutive loss.

Waiting list: Arizona's poseur ref, Army (2-5), Boston College (1-6), Buffalo (2-6), Central Michigan (2-6), Houston Nutt's rant, Kansas (2-5), LSU's Spice Boys, Maryland (2-5), Memphis (2-6), Miami (Ohio) (2-5), Navy (2-5), Oregon's pregame penalty, Paul Rhoads' Pete Townshend impersonation, Rice (2-5), Tulane (2-6), Tulsa's helmets, USC's trash talk, Washington's run defense.

Mark Schlabach covers college football for ESPN.com.

Mark Schlabach | email

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