Another typical Illinois football afternoon was shaping up in Champaign. The tailgating didn’t miss a beat despite frigid temperatures. It’s never too cold for Big Ten football. The Illinois band boomed “Oskee Wow Wow,” and fans appeared geared for a big game. A casual observer might not be able to detect that Illinois is battling a four game losing streak that has caused the media to grumble and put Coach Zook on the hot seat. Perhaps it wouldn’t leave such a bad taste in the mouth had they not ignited hope with a six game win streak.
The last time we saw Zook and crew, they were polishing off Indiana and carrying their best start since the 1950s. But since then, their schedule grew full of villains and they fell from the ranks of the noticed. As today’s game in Memorial Stadium got underway, it looked like the ugly mask might come off for Illinois as they vaulted to a 14-0 lead in the first half. But, big breaks and big mistakes including an atrocious muffed punt gave Wisconsin momentum and gave Illinois nausea. RB Montee Ball nabbed another weekend of spotlight as he punctuated the majority of The Badgers’ touchdown drives. Illinois fans are hearty and true, but under gray skies, their hopes continued to fade for an end to this dismal streak. Another loss and another senior day heavy with forgettable memories.
Leaving Memorial Stadium, it’s hard to miss the history that makes this place so great. The columns surrounding the outside stand tall an proud while Red Grange’s statue reminds passers by of the deep rooted winning traditions here in Champaign. A few changes may need to happen before those roots are able to support a championship team in the future.