Soggy afternoon capped with unsatisfying win for Illinois

What a weird day. The game itself wasn’t so odd, but a one-hour, 56-minute weather delay Saturday made Illinois’ game with Texas State game feel like something of a spectacle.

Rather than watching Illini football struggle to overcome a lesser opponent, we got to watch Illini football struggle to overcome a lesser opponent with a lightning show halfway through it. 

Illinois massively underperformed in the first quarter. Then the game was delayed by lightening at the 13:35 mark of the second quarter. The Illini trailed Texas State 14-6 at the time and — other than a 75-yard touchdown run from Josh Ferguson — had done next to nothing offensively. 

As rain poured onto the turf at Memorial Stadium, I wondered how the Illini would react. What does a football player do during a nearly two-hour rain delay? This isn’t baseball, where this sort of thing happens much more frequently.

During the delay, I ate pretzels and tweeted about the rain, but I didn’t have to stay loose for a football game.  

Head coach Tim Beckman said he put a plan in place a few weeks ago. His orders: turn on the TV, turn up the music and relax. Nose tackle Austin Teitsma said he flipped on the Alabama’s game against Florida and hung out with his teammates. 

The two-hour ordeal didn’t feel nearly that long for the players. 

“That’s how long it was?” cornerback V’Angelo Bentley said after the game. 

It felt long to me and I’m sure it did for all the fans who went running for cover as the downpour fell. But for Illinois, it was almost like an early halftime.

The Illini have been significantly better in the second half of games than in the first half. Saturday’s weather delay might have confused the players into thinking it was the second half. 

I would say Illinois responded well. Texas State added another score after the delay, but the Illinois offense responded with a quick touchdown drive just before the half. The second half was far from pretty, but Beckman’s team held on for the 42-35 win.

It’s hard to know what to make of Illinois’ 3-1 record. The Illini are halfway to a bowl game, but it has not been an impressive 3-1. Beckman told media after the game that his players “weren’t as excited as they should be after a W.” 

I don’t know if I would be all that excited after a come-from-behind victory over Texas State either. Yes, a win is a win. But at some point you want make a statement. I’m not sure what type of message Illinois’ three wins have sent.  

Without sparks from Bentley and Ferguson, I don’t know that Illinois would have won this game. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing if players aren’t excited after a win. That at least shows that they want more, they want to make a statement. 

They should want to make a statement a statement and Illinois will have plenty of chances to do so in the coming weeks.

So maybe the weather delay was a good thing. But Illinois’ not going to get two halftimes to regroup every game.

Sean is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @sean_hammond.