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Illinois Football Has a Thorn In Its Side



Illinois Football Has a Thorn in Its Side
Purdue football head coach Ryan Walters attends the NCAA men s basketball game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Michigan State Spartans, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Purdue won 77-61. Purmsumbb012923 Am15356

Illinois Football Has a Thorn In Its Side

Illinois Football is on the upswing. There is no doubt about that fact. Bret Bielema has ushered in a new era of competence and belief in the once struggling program. Enthusiasm and a business like approach to rebuilding Illinois Football has the fanbase excited and ready for a winning season in just the third year. Outside of his first offensive coordinator, Bret Bielema has this program humming largely in part that he made the right hires for his staff. From recruiting personnel to assistants, Bielema brought in a staff that would please Michigan or Iowa fans.

Bielema ultimately hired his entire staff with the hopes and knowledge that they would eventually become head coaches or land a higher position. Despite this, it is hard to imagine the current situation with a in-conference rival.

An Interesting Dynamic

Ryan Walters deserves loads of credit for his time at Illinois. He took one of the most historically putrid defenses in the country and infused them with belief and energy. This belief and energy lead to massive improvements, and slowly became a calling card for the resurgent Illini. He was able to help talented defensive players realize their inner-NFL potential and put everyone in a position to succeed in ways they have not before. Walters landed his first head coaching gig this past offseason. However, he landed at Purdue. A program that almost mirrors Illinois as an athletics program, especially in Football.

Kevin Kane and Cory Patterson followed Walters. Both young coaches had immense success at their respective positions and were arguably the top recruiters at Illinois. Though Bielema served as a respected mentor and leader for these three, Illinois and Purdue are now rivals on and off the field.

Illinois Football vs Purdue Football

For starters, Illinois and Purdue will be playing every single year. In a very open Big Ten West, the two will certainly vie for the top of the conference for years to come. However the current situation is interesting. Illinois and Purdue are after practically every single recruit together. For example, Luke Williams has built a relationship with Illinois, particularly given that Ryan Walters had the sell of Kerby Joseph and more. After Walters left for Purdue, they are now in top contention for one of the best in-state prospects along with Illinois. Purdue shrewdly brought in Williams’ brother as a preferred Walk-on. Coincidence?

Jayden Dixon Veal is a JUCO WR that was reported to commit to Illinois. Bielema even let out his usual “signal” on twitter. However, Dixon-Veal recently received a Purdue offer. Coincidence?

Though the respect will always be there, this has become one of the most intriguing head to heads in the entire Big Ten. Though this is not the Michigan vs Ohio State for the CFP levels, the storyline is seriously juicy.

Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.