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Bret Bielema ranked a top-25 coach by CBS Sports



Illinois football

Bret Bielema moves up in the CBS Sports coach rankings.

Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema has moved up in CBS Sports’ annual coach rankings. CBS Sports ranks all 69 of the Power Five coaches, but they announce the top 25 coaches on their list. Bielema cracked the top 25 for the first time, improving from 42nd in 2021 and 38th in 2022. Bielema deserved this award after the season the Illini had in 2022.

Illinois finished 8-4 with an appearance in the ReliaQuest Bowl, losing to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Illini started 7-1 with a legitimate path to the Big Ten Championship game and the College Football Playoff before falling off at the end of the season. All four of their conference losses were by one score, including an early season loss to Indiana that had some questionable calls. Also, the Fighting Illini defeated Iowa and Wisconsin last season and almost upset Big Ten Champion Michigan.

Illinois was ranked in the Associated Press top 25 and the College Football Playoff top 25. The Illini finished third in college football in total defense, eighth in passing yards allowed, and tenth in rush defense. Illinois had three defensive players drafted. Offensively, running back Chase Brown had a season for the ages, rushing for over 1,600 yards and ten touchdowns. Quarterback Tommy Devito threw for 2,650 yards and 15 touchdowns, one of the best seasons for an Illinois quarterback in a long time.

Bielema is no stranger to the Big Ten, leading the Wisconsin Badgers to a share of the Big Ten Championship in 2010 and winning the title outright in 2011. Bielema built those teams from the inside out. As a result, Bielema is doing the same thing in Illinois. He has not forgotten what it takes to be a head coach in the Big Ten.

Armchair Illini is a comprehensive site dedicated to covering University of Illinois Athletics owned and operated by Alex Kyi. Dante Pryor has been writing about College Football for years on Saturday Blitz and is now the Lead Football Author for Armchair Illini.