The Illini are now ranked No. 14 in the AP Top 25 poll | Sport

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Brett Bielema and an Illinois football program that leads the Big Ten West and is riding a six-game winning streak continued their climb up The Associated Press’ Top 25 rankings, with the Illini ranked No. 14 in a new poll released Sunday afternoon.

Today’s poll is here

Illinois (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) is ranked in the AP top 25 for the fourth straight week, moving from No. 24 to No. 18, No. 17 and now No. 14.

Illinois is one of four Big Ten teams in the AP top 25, with No. 2 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0), No. 4 Michigan (8-0, 5-0) and No. 16 Penn State ( 6 -2, 3-2). Ohio State actually tied with Tennessee for second this week, while Georgia is still No. 1.

In addition to jumping into the AP Top 25, Illinois should also finish among the top 25 teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings when they are released Tuesday night.

The Illini will now look to extend their winning streak to seven games when struggling Michigan State (3-5, 1-4) visits Champaign for a 2:30 p.m. start at Memorial Stadium this coming Saturday. The Spartans were marred by a postgame brawl in a 29-7 loss at Michigan on Saturday night. A video has surfaced on social media showing several Michigan State players punching one Michigan player in the tunnel at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Speaking of Ann Arbor, that’s the next trip for Bielema’s program, with a potential showdown between the Illini and Wolverines on Nov. 19.

The two teams have not played each other as ranked opponents since 2001, when the 22nd-ranked Illini lost 45-20 to the 17th-ranked Wolverines on September 29, 2001. which was the only regular season loss that season for coach Ron Turner’s Big Ten champions.


On Tuesday at 6 p.m., the Illinois State football team will achieve another first: a top-25 College Football Playoff ranking.

How high? Well, if the selection committee follows my lead, Illinois will be outside the top 10.

If I wrote the following line before the season started, I might get shut down: Illinois is one win away from the top 10.

In football.

It’s for sure: The Illini are going to climb This week’s Associated Press rankings.

After a dominating win against Nebraska on Saturday in horrible Memorial Stadium, I moved Illinois up four spots in my AP poll, from N. 16 to 12.

Yes, Illinois is missing a signature win. A win at Wisconsin is the closest we’ll ever get. But the Ilni pass the eye test, especially on defense.

Illinois looks like a team capable of contending for a conference title in most Power 5 leagues. For a program coming off its first winning season since 2011, that’s a surprising statement.

Illinois avoided the nasty upset that befell several Top 25 finishers. Nothing worse than Oklahoma State’s 48-0 blowout at Kansas State.

Some voters might put Kansas State’s two losses ahead of Illinois’ one loss. Not me.

Brett Bielem’s team hosts Michigan State on Saturday, a game that seemed like a tough task before the season. Not now. Illinois fans will likely remind Daniel Barker that he made the wrong decision when he transferred from Illinois to East Lansing.

Enough about former Illinois, let’s get to the vote.

Here’s The News-Gazette’s vote:


1. Ohio State 1

2. Georgia 2

3. Tennessee 3

3. Michigan 4

5. Alabama 5

6. Clemson 6

7. PKU 7

8. Oregon 8

9. Southern California 9

10. Mississippi 12

11. UCLA 13

12. Illinois 16

13. Kansas State –

14. Pennsylvania 14

15. Oklahoma State 10

16. Utah 18

17. NC State 19

18. LSU 20

19. North Carolina 21

20. Tulane 23

21. Wake Forest 11

22. Maryland 24

23. UCF —

24. Freedom —

25. Oregon State –

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