Illini not defeated by dismal record


Illini not defeated by dismal record

CHAMPAIGN After seeing their chances of making a third straight bowl game disappear with a 30-point loss to Ohio State on Saturday, the Illini (2-7, 0-5) have every right to be disappointed. In fact, the Illinois coaches and players could be forgiven for having a lackluster attitude, or a general reluctance to talk about their struggles this season.But thats not how Tim Beckmans team operates.
Instead of letting their plight dictate their demeanor, each member of the Illinois football team gathered for Mondays press conference exhibited a positive attitude and an eagerness to show improvement before the end of the season. Improvement was key for Beckman, the Illinois coach, and he made no excuses for his teams mistakes.
When you play undefeated teams, you cant not score when you get the opportunity in the red zone. You have to do more than just kick field goals and you have to play 60 minutes of football, he said. I was proud of the way our kids continued to play with OSU but it wasnt good enough.
Beckman went on to say it was incumbent on his team to show growth in these last three games of the season and learn from their mistakes. Though the opportunity to compete in a bowl game is no longer an option for Illinois, there is still the opportunity to end the season on a positive note.
For quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, not being able to play for a bowl berth means focusing on what he says should be a daily goal for all Illini.
Obviously we didnt reach our goals, but in a sense this should refocus us on what should be our goal every day: just going out and getting better performing to the best of our abilities, he said. We still can end the season on a positive note. We still can go out and win some games.
This Saturday the Illini get a chance to pick up a win with a return to Champaign for a Dads Day contest with Minnesota (5-4, 1-4). The Golden Gophers started the season with a flurry of wins but have cooled down since starting Big Ten play, beating only a winless Purdue team in five conference games.
Beckman has experience against Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill from their time as Mid-American Conference coaches (Beckman at Toledo and Kill at Northern Illinois). He described the Gophers as a typical Jerry Kill team: the kind of team that fights for everything and earns every success they have.
You see them get better and better each week. Theyre very competitive, Beckman said. Their defense is very aggressive and offensively theyre playing with a quarterback Philip Nelson that has taken over for them.
Senior defensive back Ashante Williams, who returned a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown in the OSU game, said Minnesota was a better team than he has seen in years past. He called them explosive, specifically comparing quarterback-turned-wide receiver Marquis Gray to the Buckeyes Braxton Miller.
Its going to be a challenge for the defense again this weekMarquis is the kind of guy who, when you get the ball in his hands in the open field, can make guys miss and create big plays, Williams said.
The Gophers feature several other playmakers, but Williams said their offense did not differ too much from other spread teams Illinois has faced this year. He expects the game to be played fast, but not to get out of Illinois hands.
The Illini at Mondays press conference all felt as though this weekends game and the teams two games afterward were important, and, more importantly, were winnable. The Illini avoided seeming despondent or as if the upcoming games were nothing more than necessary.
Beckman summed everything up nicely when he pointed out all of the various parties this team still has to play for, including some of the guests of honor at this weeks game. We want to win in the worst way. We want to win for our dads, for veterans, for Illini nation we want to win for ourselves.
Illinois and Minnesota will kick off Saturday at 2:42 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Illinois Notebook
-- Beckman chuckled when asked how he felt about his former team, Toledo, cracking the top 25 in the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today polls this week, the year after his departure.
Figures, he said with a short laugh. Those are my boys, my sons. Those kids playing there are now are a part of what were trying to get established now at Illinois. I cant be more proud of them, and Ill tell them to keep working to win.
-- The injury status of linebacker Jonathan Brown, a Butkus award semifinalist, is still uncertain. The junior was taken off the field in the first quarter of the OSU game and did not return to play. Beckman said Brown would see a doctor later on Monday and only afterward would his status be determined for this Saturday.
-- Running back Josh Ferguson, who is second on the team in yards per reception, should be able to play this week after sitting out two games to injury. Beckman said the freshman participated in lifting last week and ran with the team on Sunday. He said hes optimistic Ferguson would be 100 percent by Saturday.

Dwyane Wade feels 'very good' about Cubs-Indians World Series bet with LeBron James

Dwyane Wade feels 'very good' about Cubs-Indians World Series bet with LeBron James

Dwyane Wade was already down one game in the World Series when he finalized a bet with Cleveland native LeBron James.

But after Jake Arrieta, Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs took care of business in Game 2, Wade's optimism of winning his bet with his best friend has improved.

"I feel very good about being 1-1," Wade said of the tied series between the Cubs and Indians. It was tough because we made the bet and they were up 1-0 right away, but we’re in a good place right now."

After the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth in 71 years, Wade tweeted at James about placing a bet on their respective hometowns. James and his Cavaliers teammates have been regulars at Indians home games throughout the postseason, including last night's Game 2.

Wade took to the internet to finalize the bet on Wednesday, saying that the loser of the bet would have to arrive to the winner's hometown wearing the winning team's full jersey.

Wade said Thursday during Bulls' shootaround at the Advocate Center that the loser of the bet is on his own to go the distance and dress head-to-toe in garb.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

"It’s your job to get your own (uniform), but you’ve got to come in looking like one of the players for sure," Wade said. "I’m talking about glove, bat, whatever you decide. Come in with everything. So it’s gonna be cool."

James and the Cavaliers travel to Chicago for the first time on Dec. 2, while Wade and the Bulls will be in Cleveland on Jan. 4.

It's not the only bet the former teammates have with each other. And it's more so a friendly back-and-forth as the two future Hall of Famers root on their respective hometowns.

"We’ve got time before we play each other. But it’s just something friendly. We’ve got two parts of the bet," Wade said. "That’s one part that we thought was friendly, then we’ve got another where we send each other certain cases of wine depending on who wins and loses. So it’s cool. It’s just friendly banter back and forth just getting involved in the excitement that’s going on in both cities. So it’s cool to have that.

Jimmy Kimmel locates crying Cubs fan, gives him World Series tickets

Jimmy Kimmel locates crying Cubs fan, gives him World Series tickets

Just like many Cubs fans, Ryan Slagle has been on cloud nine the last few weeks.

The diehard Cubs fan and Iraq War veteran became an overnight internet sensation after cameras caught him crying at a bar in Wrigleyville when the Cubs punched their ticket to the World Series last weekend.

After footage went viral, the "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" show tracked down Slagle for an interview.

"The last 48 hours of my life has been absolutely ridiculous," Slagle told 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!' correspondent Guillermo Rodriguez on Wednesday night. "My life has been flipped up outside down. My man card has been pulled away. I don't know what to do with myself these days."

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Before finishing the interview, Kimmel broke the news that he's going to send Slagle and his girlfriend to a World Series game at Wrigley Field this weekend.

Fighting through the emotions, Slagle thanked Kimmel and told him how much he appreciates it.

"That's a man right there, I don't care what anybody says," Kimmel said.

Check out the full video below: