Can't Wait For Saturday | Bounceback season for Illinois likely rests on Altmyer's shoulders

May 17—***

The Big Ten football season will be here before you know it. Illinois is one of the two Big Ten teams opening Aug. 29 (Minnesota is the other). The rest of the league opens that weekend.

Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, I am counting down the 2024 Big Ten race. Feel free to disagree.

Luke Altmyer returns for his second season as a starting quarterback, albeit it with a "however." He got hurt late in the season and lost his job when backup John Paddock played at a high level. The Mississippi transfer said he learned from the experience. He's got a talented group of running backs to work with led by Kaden Feagin. And the offensive line will be solid. Bret Bielema did a good job filling the holes on the line with transfers.

The secondary lost key players in the transfer portal: Zach Tobe is now at Georgia Tech and Taz Nicholson went to Louisville. The defensive line needs to be rebuilt after Johnny Newton and Keith Randolph moved on to the NFL.