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Illinois Football: 8 Opponents We'd Love to See on Future Schedules

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2011

Illinois Football: 8 Opponents We'd Love to See on Future Schedules

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    CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 20: Jason Ford #21 of the Illinois Fighting Illini breaks away from Vince Browne #94 of the Northwestern Wildcats during a game played at Wrigley Field on November 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. Illinois defeated Northwestern 48-27. (Ph
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In 2010, the Illinois Fighting Illini went 7-6.

    Now in 2011, the Fighting Illini will look to improve on that mark.

    The bulk of the teams played will be the usual suspects from the Big Ten, while the others will be out of conference teams.

    The selection of the right out of conference teams can make or break a team in the eyes of the BCS Committee.

    Here are eight teams we would love to see on the Fighting Illini's schedule in the future:

USC Trojans

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    PASADENA, CA - DECEMBER 04:  USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin celebrates following his teams victory over the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on December 4, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  USC defeated UCLA 28-14.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    In 2008, Illinois lose to USC in the Rose Bowl 49-17.

    A rivalry was not created necessarily, but I am sure the Fighting Illini would loved another shot to prove themselves against the perennial powerhouse.

    Scheduling the Trojans would look good, and a win would look better in the eyes of the BCS Committee.

Missouri Tigers

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers drops back to pass during the Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes  at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24.  (P
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Missouri Tigers first met in 1896.

    This matchup was dubbed the Arch Rivalry.

    Lately, the Tigers have been absent from the Fighting Illini's schedule.

    Reviving this rivalry could put a charge in two programs fighting for national respect.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 20: Michael Floyd #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rushes against the Army Black Knights at Yankee Stadium on November 20, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Given the proximity of Indiana and Illinois, this matchup makes sense geographically.

    This matchup would also pit two programs struggling to stay relevant on the national scene.

    Notre Dame's independence allows them the freedom to schedule the Big Ten opponent, and Illinois could use the boost of a nationally popular name on their schedule.

LSU Tigers

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    ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts to a field goal during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies during the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 7, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo b
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    In another potential bowl rematch, the Fighting Illini could schedule a rematch against their 2002 Sugar Bowl opponent.

    A matchup with the LSU Tigers would surely add prestige to the Fighting Illini's strength of schedule. The Fighting Illini would add a decent midling opponent to the LSU schedule.

    A win over LSU on any given year would give the Fighting Illini a major boost.

Florida Gators

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9:  Running back Chris Rainey #3 of the Florida Gators runs upfield during the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Before Ron Zook became head coach of the Fighting Illini in 2005, he served as the head coach of Florida for three seasons.

    Giving Zook a chance at his old team could provide an interesting spark.

    Depending on whether Zook is still on the Fighting Illini's sidelines, this game could provide a matchup lovers of the spread offense will love.

Miami (OH) Redhawks

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 04:  Pat Hinkel #37 of the Miami University RedHawks attempts to tackle Deonte Thompson #6 of the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    From 1973-1975, Ron Zook was a defensive back for the Miami (OH) Redhawks.

    Now Zook could have a shot at his alma mater in a game beneficial to both schools.

    Coming off a 10-4 2010 campaign, the Redhawks are on the upswing. A win over the Redhawks would give the Fighting Illini a solid win over a surging mid-major program. A win over the Fighting Illini would give the Redhawks a win over a power conference team.

Tennessee Volunteers

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    COLUMBIA, SC - OCTOBER 30:  Head coach Derek Dooley of the Tennessee Volunteers watches on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Im
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Now for another geographical game.

    Tennessee is right below Illinois. Both schools happen to need a boost on the field.

    These two teams are fairly even in terms of talent on paper, and both have been slumping the last few seasons.

    A game like this could provide a competitive game outside of their already competitive conference schedules.

Kentucky Wildcats

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    LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 13:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Kentucky Wildcats runs with the ball during the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Commonwealth Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 38-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Get
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    A battle against the Kentucky Wildcats would give the Fighting Illini a chance to prove themselves against an SEC opponent.

    This matchup would also be very winnable for the Fighting Illini despite playing up in terms of conference prestige.

    In terms of proximity it makes sense, and both of these middle-of-the-road teams could benefit from seeing each other on the field.

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