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Rock M Roundtable!

That's right, just when you least expect it...we're back, baby! It's "Illinois Week" at RMN, so it's time for some Illinois-related questions! Doug, I'm including you in on this even though, well, it does not really pertain to Kansas. Then again when does it pertain to Kansas?? Robot? You out there somewhere?

1 - We'll start with something basic--Ron Zook continues to build depth with his recruiting, but Illinois lost its main offensive (Mendenhall) and defensive (Leman) weapon. Does Illinois get better or worse in 2008?

2 - One a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being Kansas, 1 being...I dunno...Arkansas-Pine Bluff), rate the MU-UI football rivalry right now.

3 - Make your "Arch Rivalry" prediction.

4 - Who's your favorite Illinois resident/native (Illinoisian?) of all-time?

5 - And just for fun...completely unrelated to Illinois...make your Lakers-Celts prediction. And how many times did you have to hear Stu Scott say "It's about history. It's. About. History." before you vomited all over yourself? It only took once for me.

Michael Atchison: 1 - Those guys were terrific, but I suspect Illinois gets better. Having a lot of very good players is better than having a couple near-great ones. Having one potentially transcendent playmaker thrown in for good measure is even better. And Arrelious Benn might be that guy.

2 - It’s a 7. It’s not Kansas (clearly) or Nebraska, but as far as non-con goes, it’s pretty good. How many early season games will pit two teams who played on January 1 (or after) this past year?

3 - Missouri 42, Illinois 27

The Chase for the Championship begins.

4 - A four-way tie between Rockford natives Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Tom Petersson, and, on the drums, Mr. Bun E. Carlos.

Abraham Lincoln was cool, too.

5 - I haven’t heard Stuart Scott say anything in a long, long time, so that was no trouble. Lakers in six.

Now, why again is this Illinois week?

The Boy: Because next week is Nevada week, then Buffalo week, cetera, et cetera, all the way to Kansas week. It's all about generating website content in the offseason! I bet you can't wait for Buffalo week.

1 - I haven't decided about Benn yet. He had a very up-and-down season in the end...if he'd performed all year like he did against Mizzou, then he'd have been more than just Freshman of the Year. That said, he's clearly the biggest single threat on the Illinois team. How much he can be utilized depends a bit on an RB emerging to take the pressure off of Juice Williams and some other competent WR taking the double-teams off of Benn. Honestly, I figure UI will stay about the same this year...but they could put the pieces all together in 2009...just as we're taking a step backwards.

2 - Honestly, until last Thanksgiving, Nebraska would have been the '10' with KU coming in around 8 or 8.5 (for football only, obviously). But then MU and KU played a national title elimination game, and that rivalry jumped to about an 11. Right now I'd put MU-UI at around a 7 or so. Honestly, the series has been too one-sided to move any further up yet...

3 - Mizzou 31, Illinois 20. I do think they'll get to Chase Daniel quite a bit, and I do figure Derrick Washington will have a costly fumble at some point in (what I assume will be) his first start (he got the yips a couple times last year), but I'm not putting Illinois above 20 yet--Juice has to prove himself to me.

4 - 3-way tie between Lincoln, Jake Blues, and (assuming he's reading this), my buddy Sosa.

5 - I really, really want this to go 7 games because it would be great, and I really, really want it to be a 4-game sweep of 25-point blowouts just to break ESPN's (and Stu Scott's) heart, but I do think "Lakers in 6" sounds about right. I've been underestimating them all playoffs, so it's time I overestimated them.

The Beef: 1 - I think Illinois is a hair better, but fares worse. I don’t think they can sneak up on people like they did to some extent last season. I think they will struggle early when teams are going to load up against the pass and force them to either beat them on ground with an unproven RB or with Juice…the latter being more possible, but will mean they won’t be as successful. I think the defense is going to be OK, but again, I think they will struggle a bit to just settle into what they did last year in terms of opening the middle of the field up for Leman to make all the plays he did. Of course, I don’t give the Big 10 much credit this coming season, so I think they will do OK there (though I don’t know where they play the few good teams, if at all). I will agree that Benn (when fully healthy) could be a great player for them, but I will question as to whether or not we will ever see his true brilliance because of who is delivering him the ball (somewhat like Justin Gage getting the ball from Brad Smith…what would Gage have done with Chase back there instead?)

2 - I am going to say 6 in truth because I don’t think it is near as much kU or IU in basketball…or even NU in football. Living here in St. Louis, Illinois people never seem too worked up about football, and only used it last year with their "Rose Bowl" chant at the Braggin’ Rights basketball game. I imagine that will be the line of smack being run before the game this year as well, even though…well…they have yet to win one of these games. I think until that happens, the rivalry wont really get ratcheted up.

3 - That being said, I don’t think they do it this year either. It has been chronicled about the type of game Illinois would have to play, especially centered around how much defensive pressure they would have to put on our offensive line. And yes, while OU could do it with 4, Illinois is not OU at this point up front…barely anyone is. Along with that, while we might step back a hair early on the offensive line, I think the accumulation of talent up there will be proven as the year goes on, so I think they are going to be starting at a decent level. While in game adjustments may still not be the strong suit of this coaching staff, I do believe they know how to prepare for this game and will have MU ready to go. The leadership of the players may be the biggest thing I fear about next season when so many leave (even over the talent level), and it is that leadership which will allow us to win this game by 7-11 points.

4 - Um….Lincoln?

5 - I don’t watch really anything about basketball, so I have been able to avoid the rhetoric. I probably will not invest much time (if any) on the NBA Finals, especially while the Stanley Cup is still going on. The only thing that would interest me is if they brought in Dick Stockton and Tom Heinsohn to call the games like they used to on CBS…I would watch that (especially since Heinsohn I think was drunk much of the time, or at least is now when he calls Celtic games on the radio)

mizzourobot: 1 - Illinois probably remains about the same. Zook's done a tremendous job, but it's a zero sum game, especially since he's still building a program with reputation. They'll be tough and contend for the Big 10, but won't be elite. As long as they don't suffer injuries too horribly and take care of business against that joke of a conference, they should end up right about where they were last year.

2 - In terms of OUR rivalries? I'd give it about an 8. In terms of national rivalries, I'd give it a 5. We dislike one another, but nothing intense. That could after two more years of the Arch Rivalry. I don't hate them with every part of my soul, but I'm none too fond of them, either.

3 - MU 41 IU 20: We're just better.

4 - Let's just say he had a pretty good night last night. Right after him is Dwyane Wade.

5 - My blog has it as Celtics in 6, but that changes about as often as the Missouri weather. Going to be a hell of a series.

The Boy: I will say that the national non-conference slate is rather unimpressive this year, and MU-UI is being mentioned as one of the top games of the year (#4 non-conference game in Lindy's, I believe). That, plus a possible Gameday appearance on August 30, could raise the profile of this game quite a bit. It hasn't happened yet, but it could soon. And honestly...the profile would go up even more if they happened to beat us.

The Beef: Supposedly GameDay will be coming live from Atlanta for a Clemson/Auburn game….I believe I heard/read that somewhere.

rptgwb: 1 - I think Illinois gets worse in 2008 for several reasons. First of all, you don't suffer the losses of Mendenhall and Leman and come back stronger - it just doesn't work that way. Mendenhall was an angry runner with the capacity to change the game in one play or put the unit on his back for an entire series. Leman was a rock of that defensive unit and a natural leader from his linebacker spot. This is not to say that Illinois is destined for a huge setback or a rebuilding year, I just think they overachieved last year and last year's team would have been hard pressed to do it again, much less this year's team. For now, I'll slot them around 9 wins.

2 - At this point in time, I'd put the rivalry at a about a five. The football series doesn't have the same familiarity and animosity as the Braggin' Rights basketball game. At the moment, I think Kansas sits at a 10 and Nebraska and Oklahoma (not really a rivalry, just a series growing more and more bitter) sits somewhere around a 7 or 8.

3 - While everyone assumes the offenses will come out firing, I think it'll take the units a quarter or two to really start running at full capacity. Mizzou will eat Illinois up 7-8 yards at a time, and in turn I think Illinois will be forced to the air to chase the game. Any such circumstance and I give the advantage to Mizzou on the strength of the D-Line and the trio of Willy Mo, Gettis, and Bridges. I'll say the final is 38-23 in favor of Mizzou.

4 - Current Illinois power rankings:
1. Ronald Reagan
2. UribeAuction / MCBoomofDoom / Chitowntiger
3. Miles Davis
4. Bill Murray
5. Harrison Ford

Plus, do the Blues Brothers count? If so, they're definitely top 3. On a side note, does Lincoln even count? Wasn't he born in Kentucky?

5 - Lakers in six. By the way, how fortuitous was it that BOTH the NBA and NHL got their dream finals matchups? Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals was the best Finals game I've seen since, gulp, Game 6 of the 2000 finals when Beef's Devils finished off my Stars.

Just the thought of Stu Scott speaking makes get a little sick. It's a shame because he has the capacity to be an outstanding anchor, but every now and then he feels like he has to prove how cool, hip, and black he is. I think Stump the Schwab ruined him in my eyes.

The Beef: Well...and it was a tryout with my Jets that ruined Stuart Scott's eye....

What? Too soon?

The Boy: Too soon. And I'm not sure I've thought Stu "has the capacity to be an outstanding anchor" since about 1996.

ZouDave: 1 - Illinois will probably be about the same in 2008 as they were in 2007, but I don't think they can beat Mizzou or Ohio State without some help from the opponent. Juice is a good QB, Benn is a good WR, they've got a decent defense, but as it pertains to how they compare against a team like us considering how many great players we have that are seniors it's just not the same. Illinois is going to be tough for us to beat in 2010, but not so much this coming August.

2 - Honestly, from my perspective on the other side of the state, maybe a 6. Part of it is because they haven't beaten us yet in St. Louis, but the other part of it is that I think outside of St. Louis nobody cares. They're no more of a rival of ours than Arkansas. The rivalry with Illinois can get in line behind ku, Nebraska, K-State, Colorado and Oklahoma.

3 - Missouri is going to win this one in relatively easy fashion. I expect Illinois to make some good plays and put up a fight, but in the end they're still relying on a lot of younger guys to step it up and that's just really hard to do in the first game. Mizzou, on the other hand, basically has had everything in place since the day after the Cotton Bowl and we're just simply more talented at almost every position on the field. I'd look for something like 38-17 with Missouri really taking control in the 2nd half.

4 - Christ, do I even know any? I'll go with George Wendt. Norm Peterson rules!

5 - I have watched exactly 0 seconds of the NBA this year and I expect that streak to continue. I don't even watch Sportscenter at this time of year since I don't care about the NBA or NHL. So I'll go with the Celtics, because you can't beat Larry Bird.

The Boy: Really? We haven't had a roundtable in like 6 years, and we don't have a single random image?


The Boy: That literally took about 30 seconds. Well done.


Doug: Work just sapped my free-time. Can you believe it? Severe weather and a gasoline tank fire... and I don't have the time I need to devote to the roundtable... so in rapid fire order:

1 - Dunno.

2 - pi

3 - One team will win. One team will lose.

4 - The Blues Brothers.

5 - Christ... is the NBA season still going on? It's the season that just won't die. Just. Won't. Die.

The Beef: Oooh…way to go Stuart Scott on your last answer…

The Boy: I hate Doug so much. So. Much.

ZouDave: I can see this becoming a recurring them for a long time. A. Long. Time.

The Beef: Not his fault KCK is a DMZ

ZouDave: D. M. Z.

mizzourobot: And, because it's been too long since I said it. Thrust. The Nunchuk. Upwards.

The Beef: Hmmmmm…… hmmmm mmmm ………..