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Cale's Corner

Illini Halftime vs NC A&T

For the first halftime update of the season, this exactly what you wanted to see out of a Top 10 team. Not only are the Illini lighting up the scoring column, but there also seems to be great team cohesion. The first half story is definitely Adam Miller. The true Freshman has 19 points and is 5-6 from 3 point land pushing the Illini to command a 58-19 lead. Head Coach Brad Underwood has preached team defense all throughout the preseason, and not allowing a point for nearly 8 minutes is great team defense. 

 

Not every game will be like this for the Illini, but as I heard in the TV broadcast on BTN, the Illini are a group of thoroughbreds that like to run and space the floor. 

 

Notable first half play: 

Andre Curbelo on an offensive shot, realized that there wasn’t a soul back on the defense for the Illini, and hustled his way back to take a charge, and grant another offensive possession. That is the hustle that BU is wanting to see, especially in the transition game on either end of the floor. 

 

1st half stats: 

Ayo Dosunmu: 14, 5-11 from the field, 3-5 from 3

Adam Miller: 19, 6-7 from the field, 5-6 from 3

Da’Monte Williams: 6, 2-3 from 3

 

BU has gone to the bench a lot, I mean you are up huge, in preparation for the two remaining games of the week, and to see what he has depth-wise.

 

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2020 Fighting Illini Basketball Preview

The Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball program opens the season tomorrow with North Carolina A&T. If that team sounds familiar, that is because they were in Champaign less than a year ago. That is another pregame that will come tonight, or tomorrow morning since we have three Illini games to cover through the Thanksgiving weekend, all of the Illini Men’s Basketball games can be heard right here on WPXN. 

 

What more is there to prove this season for the Illini? They have started the season in the preseason polls at #8, and were riding the hot hand from last season before the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament, and eventually the March Madness Tournament. The Illini are returning a majority of the roster, minus Andres Feliz. Feliz will be missed this season with his ability to create looks at the rim, find the open man on the kick-out pass, and his ability to grab rebounds. The Illini are however returning 4 of the starting five in Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Fraizer, Damonte Williams, and Kofi Cockburn. We know at least two of them will start in the first game tomorrow. 

 

With the return of four of the starters and the loss of Feliz, the Illini added major talent in the backcourt during the recruiting season in Adam Miller and Andre Curbelo. When it comes to the fifth starter, there is a big question. I know I can’t guess what Coach Brad Underwood will roll out tomorrow, my guess is Gorgi in the last spot, but it could be Adam Miller if he decides to run the small ball style of play. 

 

The Illini have national recognition for the first time since the 2005 season when the Illini lost the National Championship game against the North Carolina Tar Heels. There will be a lot of eyes on the team this year, but from what I have heard from Coach Underwood and the rest of the players, they are ready. Followed by the North Carolina A&T game tomorrow afternoon, Chicago State, and Ohio will conclude the MTE(multi-team-event) and head into the Jimmie V Classic with #2 Baylor lurking. 

 

I have high expectations for the Illini to shine on all the national stages that will be set for them, as we all do. The Big Ten season will not be a walk in the park either, and it never is. The Big Ten is the best basketball conference in the NCAA(look at the preseason rankings) with having 7 total teams in the Top 25. There will be some losses in there that will make us scratch our heads, but there will also be big-time wins. This is the season that we as media, and fans anticipated in the Brad Underwood hiring, making this the third program he has turned around, got back on track in the national spotlight. 

 

The Illini are primed to have one of their best seasons in team history and I am putting them up there in the Flyin’ Illini and the 2005 NCAA runner-up team. The season gets underway tomorrow at 1 pm, pregame for tomorrow will come tomorrow morning. Follow along with me, and the station on wpxnradio.com, my Twitter @calefleming10, and the stations' Twitter @1049wpxn.

 

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First Illini win in Lincoln since 1924, defat Huskers 41-23

The Illini get their first win in Nebraska since the Red Grange days in 1924 and improve their record this season to 2-3, tied with Minnesota. The Fighting Illini dominated the entire game starting from the opening kick. The Illini defense forced 5 turnovers and played Lovie Ball. The offense has their starting quarterback for the first time since the 45-7 loss to Wisconsin in Brandon Peters who was finding open receivers throughout the entire game. The run game also had their foot on the fictional gas pedal, with Mike Epstein and Chase Brown both going over 100 yards. We will unpack the game here: 

 

Let’s start with the opening play of the game. The Nebraska return was stopped on the 10-yard line when the returner was hit-sticked by the Illini. On the very next play, Redshirt Freshman QB Luke McCaffrey was facing pressure, when he opted to throw what looked like a forward pass, backward for a Jake Hansen fumble recovery which gave the Illini the ball on the Nebraska 10 right out of the gate. The Illini scored on their first drive with a Chase Brown 3 yard punch in to jump out to a 7-0 lead early. The run game was dominant throughout the entire game, which is made possible when you don’t start out in a 14 point deficit. As I stated in the intro, both Illini running backs each slated over 100 yards on the ground, Mike Epstein tallied 113 yards on 13 carries, and Chase Brown 110 yards on 26 carries. Each RB punched the ball into the endzone, Brown doing so twice. 

 

Overall, there was a very balanced attack being called on offense by OC Rod Smith. The Illini passed the ball 25 times and rushed 52. The final 15 plays the Illini ran on offense were run plays to chew the clock out in the latter half of the 3Q and the 4Q. Not only was the attack balanced, when Peters did throw the ball he spread it out among a lot of targets. Donny Navarro caught 5 passes, Josh Imatorbhebhe 4, Daniel Barker 3, and Casey Washington 2. The offensive line played their best game of the season today, getting into the secondary and allowing Epstein and Brown to make plays. They also only allowed Peters to be sacked one time, which wasn’t really on the positron group rather on the TE Barker who didn’t pick up a block on a Husker pass rusher. 

 

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, the Illini had 5 total takeaways which are peak Lovie Ball. Linebacker Jake Hansen tallied an interception and a fumble recovery, Kahlen Tolson and interception, Tony Adams in an interception, and Tarique Barnes and interception. Not only did the Illini defense get takeaways, but the defensive line also made Luke McCaffrey very uncomfortable in the pocket, notching 3 sacks(Perry, Carney 2,). 

 

Here are the Illini Drives which resulted in points throughout the game: 

1Q

  • An illini fumble recovery on the Husker 10 yard line 

    • 3 yard punch in from Chase Brown, 7-0 

  • Illini touchdown set up by a Kyron Cumby return to the 50 

    • 2 yard punch in from Chase Brown, 14-0

2Q

  • Illini touchdown set up by a 28-yard pass from Peters to Josh Bhebhe in the corner of the endzone

    • 21-7

  • Mike Epstein breaks off a 59-yard run 

    • Epstein with a 1-yard punch, 28-10

  • Blake Hayes fakes a punt for a 1st down which gives the Illini a 28-yard field goal 

    • McCourt hit FG, 31-17

  • Peters QB Sneak off Epstein fumble recovery 

    • Peters pushed into the endzone by Mike Epstein for a 1-yard touchdown, 38-17

  • Peters extends a drive with his legs to get the Illin in field goal range, 

    • McCourt his FG, 41-17 

  • Final Score: Illini 41, Huskers 23

 

This was the most well-balanced game that the Illini have played on both sides of the ball setting the tone right out of the gate with the quick touchdown on the Nebraska turnover on the opening play. The Illini improve their overall record to 2-3, with a looming Ohio State team slated to come to Champaign.

 

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Illini Halftime

It’s halftime in Lincoln for the Fighting Illini and this is the best half of football the Illini have put together this season. As I said in the pregame, Rod Smith needed to have a balanced attack on offense, in which they have. The balanced attack has been in part because the defense has played Lovie ball for the first time all season. 

 

The tone of the game was set on the very first offensive play for the Huskers on the backward pass by McCaffrey, which was not reviewed and given to the Illini. The Illini capitalized on each turnover(3) by scoring a touchdown on each. One major factor of this game has been the number of penalties that Nebraska has had through one half of play. 

 

The Illini scoring drives go as follows: 

 

1Q Jake Hansen recovers the backward pass on the 10-yard line, resulting in a 3 yard TD from Chase Brown. 7-0

 

1Q Illini TD Chase Brown 3 yard Punch.  14-7

 

2Q Illini TD on a 28-yard jump ball to Josh Bhebhe from Peters 21-7

 

2Q Mike Epstein 59 yard rush leads to an Epstein 1 yard TD. 28-10. 

 

There has been a total of three takeaways in the game for the Illini defense. The Tony Adams interception to end the first half, the Hansen fumble recovery to start the game, and the Interception by Tarque Barnes. 

 

Notable Stats for the Illini: 

Peters: 12-15, 140 yards, 1 TD 

Brown: 11 carries, 64 yards, 2 TD

 

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Illini vs Huskers Live Blog

Fighting Illini Live Blog vs Nebraska: 

 

Todays Weather: 

Partly Cloudy, 43, 8 mph wind. Kick-off time- 11:03 

 

In the latest update, the Illini are without one of their key offensive lineman in Alex Palczewski as he suffered an injury in the Rutgers game. TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe has also been ruled out for today’s contest. For Nebraska, it has been confirmed that Luke McCaffrey will get the start under center. 

 

 

1Q 

 

Jake Hansen recovered what appeared to be a forward pass that was indeed backward, which gave the Illini the ball on the Husker 20. The drive ended in an Illini TD with a Chase Brown 3 yard punch. Illini up early for the first time all season 7-0. That was RB Chase Brown's first TD of his career. 

 

Lovie ball is back this week. The Illini forced two turnovers in the 1Q, both of which the offense capitalized and scored. Chase Brown also has two TD's in the 1Q. Illini is up 14-7 2Q to come. 

 

2Q 

 

 

 

 

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Illini vs Huskers Pregame

The Fighting Illini are on the road in Lincoln Nebraska this morning to take on the Huskers in a Week 5 matchup. For the first time since the 45-7 week 1 loss to Wisconsin, the starting QB for the Illini is healthy in Brandon Peters, and it has been confirmed that he will be the starter for today's game. Peters this season only has 8 completions for 87 yards. I know that is only one game, but those numbers are still shocking as he is a second-year QB with a lot of weapons to pick from. 


 

Nebraska comes into the contest with a 1-2 overall record, with their lone win coming against Penn State last week, 30-23. In this week’s newscasts on WPXN, Illini Head Coach told the media that a point of emphasis on defense will be containing the two Huskers QBs in Martinez and McCaffrey. McCaffery tallied 217 total yards of offense last week in the win against Penn State, and Martinez has torched the Illini in his two games throwing for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns. Not only will the offense for the Illini have to be in peak form, but the defense will also have to be their best as well. The last two meetings between the Huskers and the Illini have been offensive shootouts, with the Huskers averaging 42 points against the Illini. 

 

Keys to the game: 

 

  • Establish the run game

    • The Illini have started every game in a 14 point deficit, not allowing the run game to take having to opt for the aerial attack. Get the run game established early for a balanced attack. 

  • Peters Consistency 

    • The last start Peters has this season, he could not get an offensive rhythm established, with Williams coming in to run the wildcat offense. Let Peters establish drives before running the wildcat. 

  • Pressure the QB 

    • Whether the starting QB would be McCaffrey or Martinez, the defensive front has to get pressure on the QB and not let Nebraksas QB’s get comfortable in the pocket. 

 

Todays Weather: 

 

Sunny, 43, 8 mph wind. 

 

Illini Out at Nebraska: 

 

LB- Eifler 

TE- Imatorbhebhe

RB- Norwood 

OL- Palcewski 

DL- Randoph 

QB- Robinson

WR- Sidney

 

Illini Available against Nebraska:

 

DL- Avery 

DB- Marchese 

DL- Mondesir

TE- Moore 

QB-Peters

DL-Woods 

 

Be sure to follow along on Twitter, @calefleming10, and @1049wpxn for live stats, the live blog, the halftime update, and the postgame report.

 

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Two Fighting Illini named to Naismith watch list

Fighting Illini Junior Guard, and Sophomore big man Kofi Cockburn has been named to the Naismith Trophy Watch List. Illinois is one of nine schools, and the only school in the Big Ten conference with two players on the 50 player preseason list for the player of the year watch list. 

 

The Naismith Trophy has been awarded every year since 1969 to the best collegiate basketball player. Iowa Big Man Luka Garza was last year’s award winner, and he is another favorite to win the award again this season. 

 

The two Illini standouts have built massive preseason resumes in the highly anticipated season for the #8 Illini this year. Dosunmu has been named a Preseason All-American, Bob Cousy Award watch list, First-Team All America, Unanimous All-Bit Ten, Nations most intriguing player, Nations No.1 guard(CJ More of the Athletic), No. 3 overall players (Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com) Nations No. 2 Returning Player(Andy Katz, NCAA.com).  Cockburn has earned or been named to the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Watch List, All Big-Ten, No 4 big(Brendan Marks, The Athletic, No. 10 returning player(Andy Katz, NCAA.com), No. 17 Overall players (Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com). 

 

Last season, Dosunmu averaged 16.6 points and 4.3 boards per game. Dosunmu also earned First-Team Big Ten by the media. Cockburn was the 2020 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, notching 13.3 points, 8.8 boards, and 1.4 blocks. 

 

The highly anticipated season tips-off for the Illini next Wednesday, every game can be heard right here on WPXN.

 

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Bulls pick Patrick Williams-FSU

The NBA Draft took place last night, and for those of you that aren’t huge basketball fans like myself, or just watch it for background noise, the Chicago Bulls took Forward Patrick Williams with the 4th overall pick in last night's draft. 

 

Williams is a talented kid from Florida State who has length, and athleticism. Williams is also one of the “new age” players that is considered positionless meaning that he can play everywhere on the floor if needed. Williams however did not start a single game for Florida State in his short collegiate career, but he did average 9.2 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. 

 

Williams will fit with the Bulls well I think, after first being shocked at the selection and not understanding why they took him with the 4th overall pick, after more research it began to make more sense. Lauri Markkanen who plays in the 4 spots for the Bulls, is not producing like most thought he would. Last season Markkanen averaged 14.7 points per game but was very inconsistent from three-point land shooting just above 35%. Williams being a stretch 4 can shoot from three, and make them. 

 

The Bulls have a long way to go in the rebuild process, but Williams was someone that first their style, and someone that Billy Donavon will be able to use on all positions on the floor.

 

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Illini @ Rutgers, pre, pregame blog.

The University of Illinois is on the road this morning to take on Rutgers Piscataway. The Illini are looking for their first win of the season, after the loss to Minnesota on your home turf 41-14 last week. 

 

Rutgers comes into week 4 with a 1-2 record, with their only win being over Michigan State in week one. However, Rutgers has been in close contention to win each one of their games they have played this season, outside of Ohio State. 

 

There is no doubt that the Illini have had their offensive woes this season, but the defensive side of the ball has been atrocious. The Illini are letting up a massive amount of yards, and points per game. The Illini are going to have to fire on full cylinders to make this game competitive. 

 

Here are some quick pregame notes on the QB situation: 

 

Brandon Peters is still out due to a COVID-19 Positive test.

Isaiah Williams is good to go this afternoon. 

 

The last bit of information that I have for the unofficial pregame post has to do with RB Mike Epstein ranks 17th in the Nation and second in the Big Ten in Yards Per Carry with 6.47. The Illini defense needs to give the offense a chance, instead of starting with a 14 point deficit, and getting the run game established.

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Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School to follow IDPH guidence, opts out of winter sports.

The Paxton-Buckley-Loda School Board met this evening to determine if PBL will be hitting the hardwood this winter sports season. The IDPH recently moved basketball from a “medium risk” to a “high risk” sport. With basketball being in the high-risk category, or Level 1, that means that no contact practices can be held, and there can only be training. 

 

The IHSA unveiled a plan that would allow IHSA member schools to participate in the winter sports season, with practices for basketball starting next Monday(Nov. 16), the same day that IDPH moved basketball to a high risk or Level 1 sport. With the conflicting information, many schools in the WPXN listening area are opting out of the winter season citing health, and safety concerns. Here is the full release from PBL Athletic Director Brock Neibuhr:


With PBL’s decision, that marks the second Sangamon Valley Conference school to opt-out of the season with Clifton Central doing the same earlier in the week. Other schools in the WPXN area to opt-out are Rantoul Township, Mahomet, Monticello, St. Thomas Moore, Danville Schlarman, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, and Georgetown-Ridgefarm. Tune in on our newscasts tomorrow morning at 6:30, 7, 7:30, and 8 for more information.

 

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Illini Basketball News

The Fighting Illini Men’s Basketball program added an elite shooter today in the early signing period. Luke Goode, who has length, athleticism, and the ability to score from anywhere on the floor is just what Brad Underwood and his staff were looking for. Goode, an Indiana native had other offers from Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, and more in the Big Ten but ultimately chose the Illini as his destination. 

 

Goode is a 4-year program guy, much like Cassius Winston at MSU, or Xavier Simpson at Michigan. Underwood had this to say about him: 

 

If you put an emphasis on what Coach Underwood said in this clip, think of the “nice fit for the basketball family.” The Illini lost Alan Griffin in the transfer portal this past offseason. Griffin was the Illini’s most lethal shooter from beyond the three-point line with a 41.6 percentage. Goode will be a nice fit for the Illini beyond the arc. This season, the outside shooting will most likely come from Adam Miller, on the kick-outs from Ayo or Kofi.  

 

In other Illini News, the Braggin’ Rights game has been announced. The Illini and Mizzou square off December 12, but the location will be determined tomorrow night with a coin flip that will be broadcast on FightingIllini.com. Other than the Mizzou game, the only other game that has been announced and is official is Duke at Cameron Indoor Area for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Coach Underwood had this to say on the schedule update: 


 

Indintally Coach Underwood laughed at the question when it was asked. But I know that they are getting closer to the scheduled release date that I am assuming will drop within the coming days. 

 

The last bit of Illini News that I have for tonight is the update on how the team is doing. Coach Underwood at his presser today stated the team is developing and finding a feel for each other but needs to find more continuity on the defensive end of the floor. Hear that here: 

The offense is solid, and you saw that last year with Kofi and Ayo scoring essentially on command. Trent Fraizer and Damonte Williams have also proved themselves as defenders, and Kofi’s rim defense is key for the Illini’s success in the upcoming season.

 

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Illini Pregame vs Minn

Just a quick update, there will be no “live blog” today, just updates on my Twitter Page @caledouglas10: 

 

The Illini kick off in about 5 minutes from Memorial Stadium against The Minnesota Golden Gophers. Here are today’s game notes: 

 

Illinois Inactives: 

 

 

Today's Officials: 

Referee: Greg Blum 

Umpire: Edward Feaster 

Linesman: Jeff Sznick 

Line Judge: Rudy Studd 

Back Judge: Jake Kemp 

Field Judge: Lashell Nelson 

Side Judge: Joel Clay 

Center Judge: Eric Oliver

 

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Cales Quick Hits-Bears Football

Cale’s Quick Hits are brought to you by The Paxton IGA. 

 

The Chicago Bears are now on a two-game skid, after blowing the Week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints at home. Welcome to the new Tuesday Segment here on Cale’s Corner-Quick Hits. 

 

The first segment on Tuesdays Quick Hits will be Bears Football(nothing like repeating myself twice) and how much trouble this team is in on the offensive side of the ball. I didn’t get to watch much of the 1st half but was all in for the second. One thing that I have noticed, as well as everybody, is the inability that the Bears offense has at moving the ball. Whether it be Mitch or Foles the ball can’t be moved. 

 

Is the problem actually Matt Nagy? 

Deep down I think there is a serious scheme issue, or Head Coach Matt Nagy not calling the correct plays at the right time, or maybe just not knowing what is going on during the game. I keep finding myself circling back to the Monday Night Football game against the L.A Rams, when the Bears were in a 4th and 1, and Nagy opts to run, like you should in that situation, Corderlle Patterson to the short side of the field. I don’t understand when you have a perfectly capable running back in David Montgomery to run there, or the option to put Mitch on the field to sneak the ball for the first down is mind-blowing to me. The next issue that I see within the play design is Matt Nagy continuously sending speedy Rookie Darnell Mooney on vertical routes. Mooney has the speed to beat any safety or corner that is lined upon him or his side of the field, but it’s too simple to cover when on virtually every pass play Mooney is downfield and not running an out-route or a crossing route which he could use his speed and shiftiness to make a play. 

 

Is it time to go back to Mitch? 

Too many drives become stale on Foles not being able to move the ball, going three and out, and forcing the defense back onto the field. If you watch like I do, Foles regularly under throws receivers, or makes a bad throw that gets picked off. The OT quarter however is not on Foles. Jimmy Graham dropped a pass that hit his hands on a curl route which would have picked up a first down, and the very next play Anthony Miller did the same on another out-route. I think it might be time to put Mitch back on the field who is still undefeated this season because we all know that he can move the ball with his legs if he can’t move the ball through the air. 

 

Is this team going to go 8-8? 

The Tennessee Titans are coming to town this Sunday and that has me on pins and needles. The Titans on offense are explosive and they have a guy named Derrick Henry who creates a lot of problems for defenses. But this is a Titans defense who is very lackluster and has problems stopping the ball. If the Bears can hold that offense to right around 20 points that game can be winnable, but until the offense gets figured out, the Bears would be lucky to finish the season 8-8. In good news for the Bears, the NFL owners are meeting on expanding the playoffs to 16 teams, 8 from each conference which would mean 8-8 would get the Bears to the playoffs. The way the playoffs are structured at the moment, they are not going anywhere. The Packers are going to win the NFC North, the Bucs the East and I think the Seahawks the West, and the Eagles the East leaving one wildcard spot which could go to the Cardinals. 

 

I don’t think the Bears are a bad team overall, the offense is bad, yes but that defense should be able to win them another game if not two. The offense has to step up, play as you did in 2018 when you were having fun, and win some ball games.

 

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MLB Award Finalists-Cubs, Sox, No Cards

The 2020 MLB Award Finalists have been announced and there are a few from the two Chicago teams, but no Cardinals. Let's start with the Cubs: 

 

Chicago Cub, Yu Darvish has been named as a Cy Young Award Finalist. Darvish finished this season with a 2.01 ERA, 2.7 WAR, .96 WHIP with an 8-3 record in 12 starts. This season was a 360-degree round-a-bout for the Cubs right-hander. In 2019 Darvish was 6-8 with a 3.98 ERA. Darvish is a finalist with Trevor Bauer and Jacob deGrom. 

 

First-year skipper David Ross is one of the Managers of the Year Finalists. Ross navigated the North Siders to a 34-26 record in the pandemic shortened season, starting 13-3. After that 13-3 start, the Cubs never could get above .500. The only stain on Ross’s 2020 bid is the sweep in the postseason against the Miami Marlins. 

 

The Chicago White Sox also have multiple finalists. Recently fired skipper Rick Renteria is a Manager of the Year candidate after getting the young White Sox to the postseason finishing with a 35-25 record in the pandemic shortened season. The Sox finished second in the division this season, the highest since 2005 when they were AL Central Champions. 

 

Jose Abreu is an MVP Finalist for the South Siders. Abreu in 240 at-bats this season hit 19 home runs, with 60 RBIs, and has a .317 BA. In his six-year career, Abreu has never hit better than .304. Abreu also scored 49 runs for the Sox. 

 

The last finalist, for Rookie of the Year, Luis Robert. The White Sox are loaded with talented rookies. Robert however is one of the highest-rated. Robert this season in 202 plate appearances this season hit 11 home runs, notched 31 RBIs (Lead AL Rookies), and batted .288 for his first year as a pro. 

 

The award winners will be named on November 10 and 11. Stay Tuned for the winners.

 

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La Russa named Manager for White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have found their replacement for Ricky Renteria, the manager who was let go earlier this month. 

 

Tony La Russa will be at the helm of next year's team, and there is a lot of speculation as to what will happen in his return to baseball. La Russa ranks third in all-time manager wins with 2,728, falling behind Connie Mack(3,731) and John McGraw(2,763). La Russa has won 6 pennants in his time as a skipper with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A’s, and St. Louis Cardinals which earned him a spot in Cooperstown in 2014. La Russa first started his managerial career on the South Side in 1979 and retired in 2011. 

 

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Illini Drop Season Opener 45-7, postgame will be live tomorrow morning

I am having technical problems with our blog site! I will provide full detail of the postgame blog complete with audio tomorrow morning first thing! Stay tuned on wpxnradio.com.

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Illini vs Badgers-- Halftime update

The Illini have been abysmal to start the season. Blowing coverages, allowing Badgers to run straight up the middle field and score. Rod Smith's offense has also gone three and out on multiple occasions. In the keys to the game, I talked about the time of possession battle that the Badgers are currently winning. The current score at half is 28-7 Badgers. Here are the halftime stats: 

 

Illinois

 

Brandon Peters: 5-12 passing for 30 yards. 4 rushes for 52 yards. 

 

Mike Epstein: 4 carries 28 yards. 

 

Josh BheBhe: 3 catches 26 yards. 

 

Illinois with a total of 122 yards of offense. 

 

Wisconsin

 

Graham Mertz: 14-14 190 yards for 4 touchdowns.

 

Nakia Watson: 8 carries for 22 yards. 

 

Jake Ferguson: 6 catches for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

 

Wisconsin with a total of 252 yards. 

 

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Illini vs Wisconsin Live Blog

Kickoff is 45 minutes away, be sure to tune in here for all of the action! 

 

Tonights Starters have been announced: 

Offense-- Vederian Lowe, Alex Palczewski, Doug Kramer, Kendric Green, Brandon Peters, Mike Epstien, Josh BheBhe, Casey Washington, Donny Navarro, Daniel Barker

 

Defense-- Owen Carney, Rodrick Perry, Jamal Woods, Marc Mondsier, Khalan Tolson, Jake Hansen, Delano Ware, Nate Hobbs, Tondy Adams, Sydney Brown, Derrick Smith

 

 

1Q

The Illini get the ball to start the Big Ten season. 1st and 10 at their own 18. 

 

The first drive of the Illini season results in a big first pass, first down from Peters to BheBhe, then on the next play Mike Epstein fumbles Wisconsin ball at the Illini 35. 

 

The Badgers attack early on that turnover. 6 plays for 33 yards from Grahm Mertz to the fullback. 7-0 Badgers early. 

 

I missed an Illini offensive drive, but the defense including Jamal Woods got in on that 7-yard sack for the Illini. That forced a 2nd and 17 for Wisconsin which resulted in a punt. Illini Ball.

 

The Illini ended the first quarter down by a score. The main concern out of the 1Q is Senior Linebacker Jake Hansen, who looked like he just lost his footing when he emerged from the bottom of the pile on the 4th and 1, but had to be held up by teammates and helped off the field. Very concerned for Hansen.

 

2Q

 

Jake Hansen walked to the locker room under his own power. 

 

A 14 play 88-yard drive for the Badgers results in a touchdown. 5-yard pass from Mertz to Ferguson. The total time of possession for the Badgers on that scoring drive was over 8 minutes. One of the keys to the game was the time of possession battle. 

 

It is now confirmed(by me) that Brandon Peters has wheels. Peters now has 61 rush yards for the game. 

 

Tarique Barns in on a massive tackle at the line of scrimmage, on 3rd and 8, Mertz was tackled at the line of scrimmage to force a Wisc. punt. 

 

To start the drive Mike Epstein took the ball 20 yards, need a lot of that from him this season. 4th and 1 for the Illini, being down two scores you have to go for it. 

 

The Illini did indeed go for it but elected to throw it, and the result was an incomplete pass from Peters to Josh BheBhe. Turnover on downs. 

 

And on the play for the Badgers, there was a forced fumble recovered by Tarique Barns, the whistle never blew and Barns took it to the house for 6? It looked like a touchdown to me, there was no whistle blown on the initial fumble recovery, I don't see how they overturn it. 

 

That play was indeed a touchdown. Barns with a 39-yard scoop and score for the Illini defense. Lovie talks about getting three take-a-ways each game, there is number one. 

 

Wisconsin takes it down the field on their next drive to immediately put the Illini back down by two scores. Mertz is 13-13 for 137 for 3 TD's. I think there will be a QB controversy in Madison. 

 

I'm not even sure what to say on that offensive drive for the Illini. Needed points especially with the Badgers getting the ball back to open the second half and Peters get's sacked twice and throws an incompletion to Josh BheBhe. 

 

One play, a deep ball, and another Badger touchdown. 28-7 Badgers lead and there are still 28 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. 

 

We have finally made it to half time. Illini down 28-7 the Illini can't keep blowing coverages and going three and out. Halftime update with stats coming up next. 

 

3Q

 

Milo Eifler has entered the game for his first snaps of the 2020 season, fresh off the targeting suspension of the Cal bowl game last year. The Illini need a key stop and sustain an offensive drive. 

 

Jake Hansen has officially been ruled out for the remainder of the game. I'm assuming he was undergoing concussion protocol with how wobbly he was after that play in the first quarter. 

 

The Brandon Peters wheels are back, two consecutive rushes for 75 yards. Peters rushes again after a pass incompletion to Casey Washington. Looked to me that Peters got the touchdown, and had enough. But they didn't review it. 

 

Barnes has really stepped into this role filling in for Hansen. Flying all around the field making tackles. Mertz has also thrown his first incompletion of the game. 

 

Brandon Peters gets popped on that deep ball to Josh BheBhe, draws a fourth and 1 Miami Transfer Biran Hightower called for a false start, the offense is in shambles through three quarters. 

 

Illini are back on defense. Committing a lot of penalties in the season opener. poor execution on offense. 

 

Nobody scored for either squad in the 3rd quarter. 28-7 Badgers. 

 

4Q

Wisconsin starts the 4th with the ball, and it has turned into the four-minute drill in keeping the ball on the ground. 

 

Wisconsin scores another Touchdown. 35-7 Badgers 12:23 left in the contest. 

 

One bright spot out of this game is that Blake Hayes is still the best punter in college football. 

 

Jake Ferguson is left wide open in the endzone again Mertz has tallied 5 touchdowns in his debut, and three of those have been thrown to Ferguson who has been wide open in the endzone on at least two of those. 42-7 Badgers 4:53 left in the contest. 

 

I didn't think that it could get worse than it already is at 42-7 but on the third play, Wiliams comes in at QB and throws into triple coverage and throws a pick. I'm assuming that the Badgers will score another TD or field goal to end the game. 

 

I was right on the prediction of scoring(you knew it would happen since the Badgers were on the Illini 25 yard line) and add 3 more to the blowout. 45-7 Badgers with 38 seconds left in the contest. 

 

The final score: Badgers 45 Illini 7. Postgame blog will be published tonight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Inavcitves for Illini tonight

The Illini will be without some players for tonight's matchup against the Badgers:  

 

DL- Isaiah Gay 

DB-Michael Marchese

WR- Trevon Sidney 

DB- Devon Witherspoon 

OL- Blake Jeresaty(season) 

 

 

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Illini Pregame

The University of Illinois, as well as the Big Ten, will be kicking off in just over an hour. What is it going to take for an Illini win? 

 

The main key(out of the several) is take-aways. The Illini capitalized in the upset in Champaign last season over Wisconsin. There will be no Milo Eifler in the first half due to the targeting penalty that he drew in the bowl game against Cal last season. Coach Lovie Smith has emphasized takeaways all season, and it has been rebranded in Champaign to "Lovie Ball" 

 

The second key to the game, win the time of possession battle. Wisconsin is known for holding on to the ball a lot longer than anyone else in the Big Ten, but when you have players on your squad like Melvin Gordan, and most recently Jonathan Taylor, you can pound the rock hard. Jake Hansen has caused a lot of havoc at the line of scrimmage in his tenure at Illinois, he will have to punch a few lose tonight. 

 

The last and final key, the offense has to execute. This is Rod Smiths' time to shine with a primarily veteran offense. The offense is returning a Big Ten caliber QB in Branden Peters, the return of a healthy Mike Epstien, Josh Bhebe, and you add Luke Ford and Daniel BheBhe to an already stacked Tight End room with Daniel Barker who proved a lot last season. Keep the chains moving, convert on third down, and have long sustained drives that result in 7 points and not 3. 

 

Stay tuned on wpxnradio.com and WPXN's Twitter page for constant updates throughout the game.  

 

 

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JUST IN: Pat Chambers out at Penn State

In a release sent out by the Penn State Nittany Lions, Men's Basketball Head Coach Pat Chambers has resigned this afternoon. Chambers's resignation comes after an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct by Chambers. The allegations came to light after The Undefeated article was published, and a review was conducted by Penn State Affirmative Action and Athletics Integrity Office. 

 

Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour named Jim Ferry as the interim coach for the upcoming season. Ferry has 30 years of collegiate coaching experience. 

 

Chambers served as Penn State's coach for nine seasons with a total record of 148-150. Chambers lead the way to the NIT Championship in 2017-2018. Penn State finished with a record of 21-10 under Chambers last season, which qualified them for the NCAA Tournament, which was canceled due to COVID-19. 

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Quick Hits-Big Ten Football

With the Big Ten return of Big Ten Football this week, Friday to be exact there are a few notes that every one that is a fan of the Big Ten team should remember: 

 

  • This is the 125th season of Big Ten Football. Illinois will open the season this Friday against Wisconson, you can hear the action starting at 6 pm on WPXN. 
  • The 2020 season will feature an eight-game Conference-only schedule, plus a ninth game for all 14 teams during the big Ten Champions Week, which falls on the weekend of December 19. 
  • There are two new Head Coaches in the Big Ten this season. Michigan State's Mel Tucker and Rutgers' Greg Schiano. 
    • Mel Tucker has more than 23 years of coaching experience, which started under Nick Saban at Michigan State. 
    • Schiano is back after leading Rutgers from 2001-11, who led the Scarlet Knights to six bowl appearances and coached 83 students-athletes to NFL contracts. 
  • There were six teams ranked in the Top 25, the most since 2015. 
  • Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin are looking to repeat as division champions this season. 
    • Buckeyes 9-0 2019
    • Badgers, Golden Gophers both 7-2 

 

Stay tuned thoughout the week for updates to the Big Ten, and for Fighitng Illini stories. 

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NFL Coaching Spotlight-There will be another coaching carousel,

There has been a head coaching change in the NFL as we enter week 5. Bill O'Brien has been fired as GM/Coach of the Houston Texans. This comes after an 0-4 start when we know it has more to do with the fact that O'Brien traded their best skill player in Deandre Hopkins and one of their best defensive players in Jadavion Clowney. The firing comes just 3 months after the trade of Hopkins to Arizona. We knew that was going to happen in the offseason so it isn't much of a surprise. 

 

On the other side of the spectrum, there is still a surprise in the NFL, two in fact. Number one, how does Dan Quinn still have a job? He and the Falcons have blown multiple fourth-quarter leads, can't convert in "do-or-die" situations, or to put it all together just can't win. How he still has a job with the Falcons is amazing to me, even with the injuries. 

 

Matt Patrica with the Detroit Lions. The Lions have lost six consecutive leads in the fourth quarter, and yet Patrica says "there was a lot of work to do when I got here" taking a direct shot a Jim Caldwell. This is also the guy that lost the locker-room in his first season with the Lions. Patrica's seat is red hot. 

 

 

 

 

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Bears a 3-1, What Happens Next?

The Bears looked like they are not on the same page, the offense looks broken, the amount of dysfunction that occurred in this game on that side of the ball was insanity, the defense not being able to stop Jonathon Taylor, and more. What happens now? Matt Nagy's security blanket(to deflect blame) is not there in Mitch Trubisky. How can Nagy blame someone else other than himself for this loss?

 

The Colts have the best defense in the NFL, they lead the league in almost every defensive statistic there is, but there is no excuse for only scoring 3 points until the Colts moved into prevent defense. The 3-1 Chicago Bears don't have any positive momentum heading into a short week. Nick Foles missed a lot of throws, some deep, some short. 

 

Back to who to blame. The Bears completely abandoned the run game, passing the ball 42 times when the Colts secondary where all over the Bears skill players. Is it the game plan that is broken, or the scheme that doesn't work, or is it just bad play calls in certain spots of the game? I can recall a specific play on a third and long, where Nagy called a 4 yard outright, whereas promised wasn't going anywhere; If you have any answers please tell me. 

 

The Bears have a short week heading into Week 5 against Tampa Bay, who looks like they aren't firing on all cylinders, but are still winning games. Thursday Night will come too fast, and  I have a feeling of disappointment. 

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Bears vs Colts-- Live Blog

Follow along here for the latest on all the Bears scoring drives, bad or good plays, and the first start in the Nick Foles era! Game time is at 3:25, which is just over 5 minutes from now. 

 

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1Q

The first drive for the Bears didn't go far, Foles was able to draw the defense into the neutral zone with a hard count but other than a few yards gained from Patterson runs, and an Allen Robinson first down, there was not much offense in the first drive of the game. The Bears are on defense now and will have to hold up against Phillip Rivers and the firepower the Colts offense has. Not to mention a blocked punt. 

 

 

The Colts first drive ends in a Colts TD, Phil Rivers threw a 16-yard touchdown to Colts TE Alie-Cox in 6 plays for a total of 53 yards.  Blankenship knocks the PAT through. 7-0 Colts. 

 

The Colts defense put up another solid stand on against the Bears offense. The Bears have not moved the ball well to start the game, that is going to have to change quickly. 

 

Khalil Mack dropped the easiest pick of his life on the Bears stand. However, the Bears put pressure on Rivers and were able to hold off their offense. Bears ball out of the media timeout. 

 

The Bears once again did not move the ball on offense, making it easy for the Colts to establish drives. Foles looks like he doesn't have the "chemistry" with his receivers, or there might be nerves involved. Overthrowing receivers, underthrowing them, and making throws when guys arent looking. 

 

The first quarter has concluded and the Colts have a 7-0 lead over the Bears. 

 

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2Q

 

Phil Rivers tried to pull some trickery on 4th & 1 to try and get the Bears to jump offsides to end the drive. 

 

The Bears put together a solid drive for their first possession of the second quarter. Getting to the red-zone, but not couldn't convert. The issues that the Bears had last week in the red-zone are looming once again. 

 

Smith was out of bounds on that interception, which gave the Colts an opportunity to score yet another touchdown. Rivers Pass to Hilton was too high, on the third-down play in the end zone. Blankenship knocks an FG through. 10-3 Colts, the Bears have a chance to tie it up before halftime. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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