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Bielema boost: No. 24 Illini ahead of schedule in year two

Illinois running back Chase Brown carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Iowa Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Champaign, Ill.

Bret Bielema suddenly has No. 24 Illinois looking like a Big Ten West contender in his second year since replacing Lovie Smith as the Illini’s coach.

They’re ranked for the first time since 2011.

They beat Iowa and Wisconsin in the same season for the first time since 1989, and they are rolling behind a stingy defense and productive offense.

Bielema, of course, is no stranger to success in the Big Ten. He won big at Wisconsin.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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