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Three victories by Illini breed confidence

Updated: October 30, 2013 6:58AM

CHAMPAIGN — Yeah, but …

That was the start of a lot of sentences Saturday as Illinois was demolishing Miami (Ohio) 50-14.

Yeah, but it’s just a low-rung MAC team.

Yeah, but it’s still September.

Yeah, but the Big Ten season will be a different animal.

All true, but none of it worrisome to the Illini, who open conference play next weekend at Nebraska.

“We’re very confident,” quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said.

Given their 14-game league losing streak and their often-lifeless play in 2012, the Illini were widely predicted to finish in last place in the Leaders Division once again. Now? No doubt, many are looking at the 3-1 Illini differently.

“I think people can see it now,” linebacker Mason Monheim said. “We’re ready to roll. We’re not going to roll over for anybody. That’s in the past.”

If nothing else, the attitude around here has greatly improved.

“Three weeks from now, who knows what it’ll look like?” offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said. “But I’ll tell you this: I’ll go to war with these kids.”

If that means a fighting chance in Lincoln, Illini fans will take it.

Steve Greenberg

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