The Illini have been picked to finish last in the Big Ten West this season by a panel of 34 conference beat writers and national writers.
The preseason voting results were compiled by cleveland.com‘s Nathan Baird and released Wednesday morning.
The panel, which includes Illinois columnist Bob Asmussen, also selected preseason offensive and defensive players of the year.
Illinois compiled a 2-6 record last season under Lovie Smith, picking up its wins in back-to-back weeks against Rutgers and Nebraska. The Illini open their 2021 campaign on Aug. 28 against the Cornhuskers in Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska is picked ahead of the Illini and they open against each other on Friday night, Aug. 27, which will be nationally televised.
I will have more on this in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.