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Illinois notebook: Soldier Field gives it new college try for Washington-Illinois

Updated: October 16, 2013 6:59AM


Soldier Field gives

it new college try

A crowd of 47,312 turned out Saturday night for Illinois’ first game at Soldier Field in 19 years.

The crowd enjoyed perfect tailgating weather. Washington brought its band and a sizable fan contingent, providing a real college atmosphere.

Illinois was making its second appearance at Soldier Field. It lost 10-9 to Washington State in 1994.

One more shot

Illinois will wrap up its nonconference schedule against Miami (Ohio) in Champaign on Sept. 28.

The Illini will want to make the most of that opportunity. Four of their eight Big Ten opponents are ranked. Another is knocking on the top-25 door. And the other three games are on the road.

The gantlet: at No. 23 Nebraska, vs. No. 20 Wisconsin, vs. Michigan State (27th in AP votes this week), at Penn State, at Indiana, vs. No. 4 Ohio State, at Purdue and vs. No. 17 Northwestern.

That’s a daunting schedule for a team that’s trying to get headed in the right direction after going 2-10 last year.

Quick counts

Dick Butkus, the defensive star of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl team, presided over the coin toss.

• This was the 10th meeting between these teams, but the first since 1972. Washington won five of the first nine meetings. Illinois notched one of its wins in the 1964 Rose Bowl, beating the Huskies 17-7.

Tim Beckman was 1-2 in three previous meetings with Pac-12 teams. He beat Colorado in 2009 and lost to Arizona in 2010 while at Toledo and lost at Arizona State with the Illini last year.

—Herb Gould

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