Illini hoping for historic blowout against Miami

Listen, I could give you a breakdown of why Illinois is likely going to trounce Miami (Ohio) this weekend. But I think it’s easier for both of us if I just tell you that it’s going to happen. So Illinois looks to make a lasting impact by exhibiting a dominating performance over a weaker team.

What will it take to be one of the biggest Illinois blowouts in recent history? Let’s look at some of the Illini’s most mercilessly dominating performances from the past.

For fun, I pored through “The Daily Illini” archives to see how we previewed these blowouts-to-be.

Illinois 44, Charleston Southern 0 (Sept. 15, 2012)

This was the beginning of the Reilly O’Toole era in Champaign. It was also pretty much the end of it, but that’s beside the point. It’s crazy that for as bad as Illinois was last season, there was still a team in the realm of college football that was this much worse than Illinois, even if it was an FCS squad. It was a red herring of optimism for Illinois under Tim Beckman. In fact, this wide margin’s effect of ballooning expectations maybe was more harm than good for the program. Not to be outdone, the 2012 Illini were blown out four weeks later 45-0 by Michigan.

From the DI: “If the Illini scheduled opponents to actually better themselves, fans wouldn’t need to research their opponent to find out that Charleston Southern hasn’t won a game since Nov. 13, 2010.” -Dan Welin, football columnist

Illinois 56, South Dakota State 3 (Sept. 10, 2011)

The Illini hadn’t won a game this big since 1944, and why would they have? This was at the beginning of a fantastic 6-0 stretch by Ron Zook in what would be his last year, and gave Illinois fans something to get excited about heading toward the future. Of course, the tailspin occurred, 0-6, Zook fired, Fight Hunger bowl, Beckman, here we are. As was the case with Charleston Southern, no one put much stock in the nature of the win — we see this regularly in college football.

From the DI: “With the first team off the field and visions of Appalachian State and James Madison safely put to rest Saturday, freshmen backs Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson will assume the limelight.” -Gordon Voit, football columnist

Illinois 34, Louisville 10 (Sept. 22, 2001)

Heading back to the golden days of Kurt Kittner and Brandon Lloyd, this was one of Illinois’ biggest wins in a year where it made it to the Nokia Sugar Bowl. Louisville, meanwhile, lost one game other than this one during the entire year as they went on to win the Liberty Bowl over Brigham Young. Kittner threw for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lloyd had just three catches for 28 yards. This win provided Illinois with some credibility outside the Big Ten, back when it wasn’t absurd for a Big Ten team to win a national title.

It was an important win, yeah, but when I looked back at the archives I found that it would have been hard to get excited for the game itself.

From the DI: “Illinois has decided to play Saturday’s football game at Memorial Stadium against Louisville after considering cancellation because of the terrorist attacks on the United States.” -Larry Hawley, senior writer

Illinois 63, Virginia 21 (Dec. 30, 1999)

In what was probably just a misjudgment of talent across conferences, Illinois was matched up with Virginia in the Bowl. A younger Kittner-Lloyd combo connected for a touchdown pass, but in the reverse of what you’d think, as Lloyd hit Kittner on a 30-yard pass to give Illinois a 21-7 lead. The Illini held a young Thomas Jones to 110 yards on 23 attempts, while surrendering fewer than 150 passing yards to Dan Ellis.

From the DI: “If they can contain Jones to under 150 yards and shut down the passing attack, it will be a very happy new year.” -Dave Johnson, football columnist

Illinois 48, Minnesota 14 (Nov. 18, 1995)

In a season in which Illinois had wins of 9-7 and 7-0, this offensive anomaly was by far the Illini’s best performance of what was a terrible stretch for Illinois football. It was the last win before Illinois went through a stretch of two wins in two full seasons in the mid-90s. Illinois followed this game with a 3-3 tie against Wisconsin.

From the DI: “Illinois is searching for a strong showing from its offense, and Minnesota’s defense might be able to provide that. The Gophers have allowed 169 points in their last four games, including 52 to Michigan and 49 to Ohio State.” -Steve Johnson, senior writer

So, those are the games Illinois has to compete with from recent history. A 53-point blowout is the biggest margin of victory since 1944. I would guess Bill Cubit and Tim Beckman want to gun for that margin.

With it being Dad’s Day and all, expect Cubit and the offense to dial things up and put on a show. Illinois is a team with something to prove, and an opportunity to prove it.

But boy wouldn’t it just be such a shocker if Miami somehow, some way…

Nah. Illinois’ got this.

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