Illinois Fighting Illini 2023 College Football Preview

Illinois Fighting Illini 2023 College Football Preview

July 24, 2023

2022 Recap

Record – 8-5

ATS – 8-5

Yes, guy.

The Fighting Illini made nice strides in year two of the Bret Bielema regime and won eight games for the first time since 2007. They had a very impressive mid-season stretch in which they defeated Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota in consecutive weeks! We’ll need to get the HOTTIE MEGALOCKS INTERNS on a fact check mission, but we don’t think that’s been done by anyone in a long time. They fell apart down the stretch and lost three straight which killed their shot at a Big Ten Championship Game appearance. The November loss at Michigan was a tough pill to swallow (L 19-17) as Illinois was forced to beat the Wolverines and the referees **.  Illinois ended the campaign with a loss to Ole Miss in something called the ReliaQuest Bowl but it was still a successful season when all was said and done.

** needs fact check, but it definitely had the smell of SHENANIGANS ^^

^^ TOMFOOLERY is a given when two of the most corrupt states in the nation go head-to-head on the gridiron

Illinois Fighting Illini 2023 Outlook


It wasn’t pretty (#9 Big Ten scoring offense) but Illinois won a lot of games thanks to efficient QB play from Tommy DeVito (15-4 TD to INT LY) and the absolutely DEVASTATING performance of star RB Chase Brown (1,643, 10 TD; 27 receptions). DeVito and Brown are no longer with the team and it’ll be interesting to see if Illinois can be as effective without those two key men. QB Luke Altmyer is a fine athletic specimen from Ole Miss but he doesn’t have much game experience. The WR/TE group isn’t elite but they retain their top-two WRs including the elusive Isaiah Williams (82-715, 5 TD). It looks like a committee-approach will be in operation with the ground attack unless one of a few youngsters at RB can make a big leap forward. The OL returns just three starters but each of them are fine performers. Depth could be an issue, but we trust Bielema to make things work with the run game. Overall, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the offense, but it looks like an “average” offense at best. Stay tuned!


WOW. That was some SWEET ACTION.

Illinois was an absolute BRICK WALL last year as they ranked #1 in the country in scoring defense (12.8 PPG), #3 in total defense (274 YPG), and #1 in pass efficiency D (9-24 TD to INT!). The front seven will be excellent with the return of several difference-makers including 1st Team AA (!) DE Jer’zhan Newton (14 TFL, 11 QBH), DE Keith Randolph (13 TFL, 5 QBH), LB Seth Coleman (10 QBH), and rising star LB Gabe Jacas. There are yuuuge holes to plug in the secondary as Illinois lost an impossible THREE players to the NFL draft and all of those guys were taken in the first three rounds. Also note that they’ll be without ace DC Ryan Walters who’s off to take the head coaching reins at Purdue. We still rate this as an “above-average” Big Ten defense with the potential to be better if the secondary turns out to be better than expected.


Most of the key components are back for action including punter Hugh Robertson (40.0 LY) and PK Caleb Griffin (14-19 FG). Isaiah Williams is a squirmy and dangerous PR.

Schedule Analysis

Overall – Things set up well for the Illini. Their toughest non-conference assignment is a road trip to Kansas so they’ll bag two or three wins vs non-Big Ten foes. Illinois misses Michigan AND Ohio St from the East and they get to face the Nittany Lions at home. Note the nasty road games in November as Illinois has to battle Minnesota and Iowa ON THE HIGHWAY. Thankfully, they get to play Wisconsin at home.

Potential ATS Trouble Spot – FAU (Sept 23)

SANDWICH ALERT. Illinois will be coming off a battle with Penn St and they’ve got another Big Ten affair up next (at Purdue). The Owls will be an improved bunch this season so this doesn’t look like a good place to back the home favorite.

Season Win Total

Market consensus July 24

Over 6.5 -110

Under 6.5 -110


No leanage.

We have slight LEANAGE to ‘over’ a flat ‘6’ and there are a few of those lingering in the marketplace as we approach press time. They’re capable of seven wins but it’s not gonna be easy. At least by playing the ‘over 6’ you can PUSH IT, PUSH IT REAL GOOD if they finish 6-6.

MEGAmazing Tidbits

As noted earlier, the last time the Illini won eight games came back in 2007. In that season they won nine games and made it to the Rose Bowl only to be dismembered by USC (L 49-17). The head coach of that Illinois squad was your boy RON ZOOK.

Illinois is proud to have a 490-pound fascist Governor who recently changed the official state motto to, “Govern me Harder, Daddy.” That fun slogan will appear on Illinois license plates beginning in 2024 **.

** needs fact check


The Illini are coming off a very impressive season, specifically a phenomenal defensive effort that went underappreciated by many, including those of us at MEGALOCKS HQ. We’re on the fence regarding the 2023 edition of Illinois football as they lose their QB, superstar RB, and excellent DC. They won’t be able to sneak up on people this season but they’ll be scrappy enough to gut out their share of victories. We expect them to find a way to get to a bowl game but don’t believe they’ve got the MINERALS to compete for a division crown.