Conference race too close to call

Originally Published: October 15, 2003
By Herb Gould | Special to
A midseason team-by-team look at the Big Ten.

Illinois is dead in the water. A 1-6 start, the worst since the Illini went 0-11 in 1997, Ron Turner's inaugural season, leaves little to play for, and little indication Illinois has enough to salvage much. Unlike last year, when the Illini bounced back from a 1-5 start to win four of six after Jon Beutjer settled in at quarterback, this team is injured and lacking playmakers.

Illinois has some promising newcomers at running back and wide receiver, but injuries and early close losses have taken their toll. The Illini are a tentative group that has been getting beat upfront on both sides of the ball, and that's unlikely to change.