Illinois Fighting Illini

Getty Images

Highest-rated signee in Illinois’ 2015 recruiting class transfers to FCS Illinois State


Late last month, Gabe Megginson announced via Twitter that he would be transferring from Lovie Smith‘s Illinois football program.  A little over a week or so later, the offensive lineman has a new college football home.

Megginson confirmed to the Decatur Herald & Review that he has decided to transfer to Illinois State.  As the Redbirds play at the FCS level, the lineman will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Including the upcoming season, he has two years of eligibility remaining.

“I picked ISU because I know they are a great program consistently,” the lineman told the Herald & Review. “Coach [Brock] Spack knows what he is doing there. I have known Coach for a while, and I know he is a fair, honest coach who wants the best for his players.

“I feel it’s the right fit for me academically and football-wise, and I cannot wait to get there and continue what I love to do around a great culture.”

A four-star member of the Illini’s 2015 recruiting class, Megginson was rated as the No. 15 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Illinois.  According to, no player in the Illini’s class that year was rated higher than Megginson.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Megginson played in 22 games the past two seasons, starting 11 of those contests — eight at guard, two at tackle and once as a sixth lineman.  Four of his starts came in 2017.

Illinois LB Tré Watson tweets decision to transfer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Yep, yet another transfer that will be one of myriad such moves in the coming weeks.

On his personal Twitter account, Tré Watson announced Monday that he has decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program. The redshirt sophomore, in explaining his decision, wrote that “[i]n looking at the direction of the program and what changes are occurring this is the best decision for my [long-term] future.”

Watson did not detail what changes are occurring that helped trigger the move.

As a graduate transfer, Watson could play immediately at another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.

In nine games this season — he missed three because of an injury — Watson totaled 65 tackles, good for tied for third on the team. The linebacker’s 4.5 tackles for loss were tied for second on the Fighting Illini.

Last season, Watson earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors after starting eight of 12 games and finishing second on the team in tackles with 102.

Illinois and Missouri announce four-year home-and-home agreement

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
1 Comment

The rivalry between Illinois and Missouri may not be among the most storied of rivalries in college football, and it has only been played 24 times since first meeting in 1896. Still, there is something that just feels right about seeing Missouri and Illinois playing football, and starting in 2026 we will see the Illini and Tigers on an annual basis for four consecutive seasons.

On Monday, Illinois and Missouri announced a new scheduling agreement for a four-game series that will begin in 2026. Barring any unforseen changes to the agreement, Illinois and Missouri will each host two games between 2026 and 2029 with the home site alternating each season.

Illinois will host Missouri on Sep. 26, 2026 and again on Sep. 16, 2028. Missouri will play host on Sep. 18, 2027 and in the fourth game of the agreement on Sep. 15, 2029.

As both the Big Ten and SEC have a scheduling requirement to play at least one opponent from a power conference or power conference equivalent each year, this four-game agreement will satisfy those requirements for both Illinois and Missouri. Illinois already had the requirement in the Big Ten satisfied in 2026 with a home game against Duke, but these are the first games scheduled from 2027 through 2029. These are also the first games on the books for Missouri from 2026 through 2029, so their requirement is fulfilled years in advance as well.

“We are pleased to reestablish the football rivalry series against Missouri,” Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman said in a released statement. “As our football program advances, it is important that we build our nonconference schedule accordingly. The opportunity to compete against an opponent from the Southeastern Conference and to play a geographic rival like Missouri will be exciting for our players, coaches, and fans.”

Illinois and Missouri last played in 2010 in the final game of a neutral field series that had been played in St. Louis from 2002 through 2010. The Tigers won all seven of those matchups and Missouri leads the all-time series 17-7. When the series does resume, it will be good to see it being played on campus sites as opposed to an NFL stadium that will have been abandoned for football purposes for a decade.

Ohio State win, Michigan loss hands Buckeyes B1G East, date with Wisconsin in league title game

Associated Press
1 Comment

It may not have been as easy as most expected, but Ohio State’s exactly where most pundits thought they’d be heading into the postseason, at least conference-wise.

OSU came into today’s Week 12 action needed to take care of business against Illinois and have Michigan lose to Wisconsin in order to claim the Big East title this weekend.  Both came to fruition Saturday as the Badgers handled the Wolverines 24-10 while the Buckeyes throttled the Fighting Illini 52-14 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the final square may have indicated.

Following next weekend’s rivalry matchup with UM, OSU will move on to face No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.  If the Buckeyes can somehow manage wins in each of those two games, they could have an outside chance to become the first two-loss team to qualify for the College Football Playoff, although they would still need some help.  Unbeaten UW, meanwhile, would, provided it gets past Minnesota, likely earn a playoff berth with a conference championship.

OSU will be making its third title game appearance since the inaugural one was played in 2011, while UW will be playing in its sixth.  The two teams met in the 2014 edition of the game, with the Buckeyes’ 59-0 throttling of the Buckeyes providing the impetus for them to qualify for the first-ever playoff and, ultimately, win the national championship.

J.T. Barrett led the way to this latest title-game appearance for the Buckeyes, accounting for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) in the win.  The seventh-year senior quarterback also became the first player in Big Ten history to throw for 100 career touchdowns.

On the ground, Mike Weber chipped in with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Injury likely forcing Illinois to go back to Jeff George Jr. at QB

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The signal-calling merry-go-round continues for Illinois, with the Fighting Illini apparently set to go back to the past for its starter this weekend.

According to reports coming out of the area, head coach Lovie Smith indicated to fans and boosters in attendance at an event earlier in the day Friday that Jeff George Jr. will likely start Saturday’s game against Indiana at quarterback.  George Jr. will replace Cam Thomas, who is suffering from an unspecified injury.

Chayce Crouch started the first four games of the 2017 season before being benched in favor of George Jr. in early October.  For the Week 10 loss to Purdue, George Jr. was benched in favor of Thomas, who made his first career start against the Boilermakers.

Collectively, the Illini’s 100.0 pass efficiency rating is currently 124th out of the 130 teams at the FBS level; just one Power Five team, Rutgers (98.5, 125th), is worse.  That poor quarterback play is a significant reason why the Illini has lost seven games in a row and will miss out on a bowl game for the third straight season, the last two on Smith’s watch.