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Bret Bielema and the Illinois soccer program led the Big Ten West on a six-game winning streak. Bret Bielema and the Illinois football program continued their climb into The Associated Press’s top-25 ranking, with Illini finishing 14th in the new poll released Sunday afternoon.
Today’s poll here
Illinois (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) is in the AP Top 25 for the fourth straight week, moving up from No. 24 to No. 18 to No. 17 and now No. 14.
Illinois is one of four Big Ten teams in the AP Top 25, with No. 2 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0), No. 4 Michigan (8-0, 5-0) and No. 16 Penn State (6-2, 3-2). Ohio state is actually #2 with Tennessee this week, while Georgia is still #1.
Aside from jumping into the AP Top 25, Illinois should also find itself in the top 25 teams in the premier College Football Playoff rankings when they are announced Tuesday night.
The Illini will now look to extend their winning streak to seven games when a battered Michigan State (3-5, 1-4) visits Champaign for kickoff at Memorial Stadium next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Spartans suffered a 7-29 loss in Michigan on Saturday night, marred by a post-game scuffle. Video surfaced on social media showing several Michigan State players hitting a Michigan player in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Speaking of Ann Arbor, that’s the next road trip for Bielema’s program, with a possible November 19 showdown between the Illini and the Wolverines.
Both teams have not played ranked opponents since 2001, when 22nd-ranked Illini lost to the 22nd-ranked Wolverines 45-20 on September 29, 2001, the only regular-season loss for coach Ron Turner Big-Ten that season -Champions.
At 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, the Illinois football team will experience another first: a place in the top 25 of the college football playoffs.
How high? Well, if the selection committee follows my example, Illinois will be just outside the top 10.
If I had written this line before the season, I might have been jailed: Illinois is one win away from the top 10.
One thing’s for sure: The Illini are set to climb the Associated Press rankings this week.
After Saturday’s dominant win over Nebraska at the intimidating Memorial Stadium, I moved Illinois up four spots on my AP ballot, from 16th to 12th.
Yes, Illinois is missing a signature win. Winning in Wisconsin is the closest thing to that. But the Illni pass the eye test, especially on the defensive.
Illinois looks like a team capable of fighting for a conference title in most Power 5 leagues. For a program that will have its first successful season since 2011, that’s an amazing statement.
Illinois avoided the nasty surprise that hit several top 25 members. Nothing was worse than Oklahoma State’s 48-0 flop against Kansas State.
Some voters might put Kansas State with two losses ahead of Illinois with one loss. Not me.
Bret Bielema’s team hosts Michigan State on Saturday, a game that looked like a tough task preseason. Not now. Illinois fans will likely remind Michigan State tight end Daniel Barker that he made the wrong decision in moving from Illinois to East Lansing.
Enough about the Illinois ex-boyfriends, let’s get to the election.
Here is the ballot from The News-Gazette:
1. State of Ohio 1
2. Georgia 2
5. Alabama 5
6. Klemson 6
7. TCU 7
8. Oregano 8
9. Southern California 9
10. Mississippi 12
12. Illinois 16
13. State of Kansas —
14.Pennsylvania State 14
15. State of Oklahoma 10
16 Utah 18
17. NC state 19
19. North Carolina 21
20. Tulane 23
21. Wachwald 11
24. Freedom —
25. Oregon State —