Football team anticipates game against Iowa

By Laura Haning

It looks like this might be the year for the Fighting Illini Football team. The Illini claimed the number 18 spot in the polls this week, becoming ranked for the first time in six years. Illinois’ impressive win over the then number five Wisconsin last Saturday stretched their winning streak to five.

Zook says he is proud of his team’s accomplishments and admires their desire.

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“I talked to our team about giving them a break. All of them said, ‘No, no coach,’ so I mean they’re hungry,” Zook said. “I think one of the words is hungry confidence. It’s knowing that we’re not there yet, but we’re still hungry. We feel like we’re making progress.”

Junior Running Back Rashard Mendenhall not only has the attention of Illinois and opponents, but also the nation. He became a candidate for ESPN’s Heisman award this week.

However, he remains modest and keeps celebrations short so he can focus and prepare to run the team to another victory against Iowa this weekend.

“Even with this win, we’re going to enjoy it for 24 hours and then get right back to work,” Mendenhall said. “We’ve still got a long season. We could leave a legacy, so it wouldn’t be smart to just sit on a couple wins we have. We’ve got to go out every week and try to win.”

Illinois fans are proud of their football team, but the Illini know they have more work to do. Sophomore Defensive Back Vontae Davis believes the team has more potential.

“We’re making good strides but I mean we also know how good we are and we could play much better,” Davis said. “And that’s our drive into the next week’s game. Every practice we’ve got to get better and better.”

The Illini look to remain undefeated in the Big Ten when they head to Iowa this Saturday. The Hawkeyes have lost eight straight in the Big Ten. The game is in Iowa City at 11 a.m.

For more coverage of the upcoming game against Iowa, check out the Touchdown Times in Friday’s edition of The Daily Illini.