Preview & Picks: Illinois at No. 17 Iowa

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THE STORYLINE

This Saturday was once meant to be Bret Bielema’s go back to his alma mater, the place he went from walk-on to key starter beneath Hayden Fry, the place the Prophetstown (Ill.) local helped Fry and Kirk Ferentz proceed Iowa’s sustained luck as a graduate assistant (1994-95) and as an assistant trainer (1996-2001).

But after a good COVID-19 analysis, Bielema, the Illinois head trainer, will watch his Illini (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) take at the No. 17 Hawkeyes (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) in isolation from an undisclosed location within the Champaign-Urbana space. While Bielema has pulled strings of his program just about and led game-planning for Saturday’s penultimate 2021 regular-season recreation, the person who normally calls the photographs can be powerless from 90 mins to kickoff to the overall whistle.

“I can’t control this moment,” Bielema stated. “I’m going to play by the rules and play by the things that are set in front of me and the precedents that have been set. I have a lot of faith and confidence in our players. …I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like. Hopefully, there will be some excitement. I’m sure there’s going to be highs and lows and I’ll experience it just like every other fan.”

Illinois has now not introduced whether or not every other Illini coaches or gamers will omit Saturday’s recreation because of COVID-19, mentioning college coverage. But Bielema has put a plan in position, one that he is labored on because the iciness for the reason that we are in an ongoing pandemic, to make the Illini operation transfer as easily as conceivable in his absence. His coordinators will coordinate and his positions coaches will proceed to train their positions, despite the fact that large receivers trainer George McDonald has served as appearing head trainer within the locker room and in conferences. But on gameday, analyst John Marinelli will fill Bielema’s footwear as the only Illini trainer who calls timeouts and talks to officers, despite the fact that he’ll be in consistent touch with the coordinators throughout the headset.

Bielema has ready his coaches for this second, however most commonly, he is needed to get ready his gamers, who wish to win their 3rd immediately recreation in opposition to a ranked opponent and stay alive their hopes of a overdue surge for a bowl bid.

“We’re built for adversity,” outdoor linebacker Owen Carney stated. “A lot of adverse things have happened to us. Nobody is going to shed a tear for us or come and give us some Kleenex or anything like that. We’ve just got to keep it going, keep pushing and that’s the mindset that we’re taking into this game right here. …His presence is definitely missed. All the captains, there were six of us that were elected, and we’re trying to take on that role along with the other coaches and just try to hold it down for Coach B. We know he’s probably missing it like hell. We’re definitely feeling his presence but we’re just keeping it going, everything that he taught us, everything that he prepared us for this moment. Next man down, another one up.”

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