Countdown to College Football: Day 57 - Illinois

School: University of Illinois

Mascot: Fighting Illini

Fight Song: Oskee Wow Wow

Head Coach: Lovie Smith (3-9)

Stadium: Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 60,670)

Best Place to Eat on Campus:

We like tacos here, and can always enjoy quality Mexican cuisine.  Maize Mexican Grill is a popular institution in Champaign. Has an excellent website as well.

Greatest Moment in Program History: 

Illinois is another one of those programs where a fleeting season of success is quickly followed by an utter disaster. Footage of the 1964 Rose Bowl victory is hard to find.  In recent memory, the greatest win was in the briefly successful Ron Zook era. In 2007 Zook's recruiting built a talented and fast team.  In the second to last week of the season, Illinois beat top ranked Ohio State, in Columbus and gained the inside track to the Rose Bowl. 

Current State of the Program:

Illinois has been mired in mediocrity for a decade. Interest had waned down to less than ten thousand people a game by the end of the Tim Beckman era. Lovie Smith has renewed interest in the program but the talent level remains low and Smith's first season was largely non competitive.  Given the strength of the conference, it may be some time before Illinois becomes the program its occasionally showed glimpses of being.

Prediction: 4-8

vs Ball State - W

vs Western Kentucky - W

at South Florida - L

vs Nebraska - L

at Iowa - L

vs Rutgers - W

at Minnesota - L

vs Wisconsin - L

at Purdue - W

vs Indiana - L

at Ohio State - L

vs Northwestern - L