Illini fans acknowledge unrealistic expectations after devastating loss

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Jonathan Bonaguro

Jake Hansen (35) tackles Willie Parker (26) at Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Illini experienced their first loss of the season against Eastern Michigan.

By Tatiania Perry, Staff Writer

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, according to Einstein.

Example: Saying the Illini will begin their season 3-0 for the fourth straight year only to be disappointed.

Disappointment: Sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Example: Believing in the fourth quarter Illinois will actually stop the run enough to go into overtime with 1:24 left on the clock, but then, of course, it doesn’t.

Grief: Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

Example: Watching a 3-9 season in 2016, a 2-10 season in 2017 and a 4-8 season in 2018.

At some point during Saturday’s train wreck, Illinois played really exciting football. James McCourt kicked a 57-yard long field goal to tie with the school record, the Illini came back after being down two touchdowns and the receivers showed out.

But as trains do in a wreck, the Illini derailed. The initial panic of losing to Eastern Michigan began to settle into acceptance in the midst of the third quarter.

Illinois also loves to test the heart strength of its fans and began to really shake things up in the fourth.

At this point, we should know what outcome in inevitable yet we, nay I, still dare to hope. The only thing this hope does is thrust me into my weekly grief cycle.

When Illinois began to turn it around, I was in denial. To me, the only option was overtime, giving Illinois either more time to pull off the win or flop. It didn’t occur to me the 1:24 was enough time for Eastern Michigan to take the win.

Then I was simply angry. I return to this emotion quite a bit. Just check my Twitter to see how often I begin to doubt and simply get mad.

As for bargaining, I don’t get much of a chance for this one, as going into the locker room of the opposing team and begging them to lose falls just outside of my job description. I would also probably get arrested and/or banned from the stadium.

Depression tends to take place during the press conference when I get to see the looks on the players’ faces, the sadness in Brandan Peters’ eyes and the crack in his voice as he takes on the guilt of losing.

It breaks my heart. We as onlookers feel some type of way about the loss, but to look into the eyes of the people who actually had a part in it is incredibly heartbreaking.

It’s at this point in which acceptance sets in. I know I don’t feel good after watching a loss, so I know they can’t feel good about letting themselves and fans down.

Am I a dramatic Illinois fan? No.

I’m a dramatic person in general who happens to find an outlet in the emotional roller coaster that is Illini football. 

@tati_perry14

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