In case you've been busy and haven't noticed, college football in Illinois has been pretty good.
While the recruiting circles in Illinois have long been considered, at best, a middle of the road talent base, the results on the field have been much better than mediocre at all levels.
In Evanston, former Sandburg Eagle standout and current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has the Wildcats (5-0) playing terrific football with a roster full of Illinois born and bred impact players.
Illinois (4-1) and interim head coach Bill Cubit pulled off a huge win last week against Nebraska. The Fighting Illini also have a roster loaded with Illinois kids.
What about Northern Illinois? Sure, the Huskies (2-3) have dropped three straight games. But all the Huskies have done is win 10 or more games a season since 2010, primarily with kids from the Land of Lincoln.
But what about the self-perceived top college football conference in the nation, the SEC? Florida's defense is anchored by Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison, while LSU's run game features Lemont junior interior offensive linemen Ethan Pocic. Vanderbilt is getting a breakout season from Danville wide receiver Trent Sherfield. Ole Miss features former Crete-Monee Illinois Player of the Year, Laquon Treadwell, who is already being projected as a first round NFL draft pick.
And the impact of Illinois-born kids making an impact can be seen on all levels of college football.
Illinois State (3-1) is the third-ranked team in the FCS. The Redbirds have a great chance of getting back to the FCS National Championship game while Missouri Valley conference rival Western Illinois (2-2) is also on the verge of cracking the FCS Top 25. Search the rosters of the remaining out-of-state Missouri Valley Conference schools, and again Illinois kids are making an impact.
What about the NAIA powers? No. 5 St. Xavier (4-1), along with No. 12 Robert Morris (4-1) and No. 22 St. Francis (4-1) in Joliet all have Illinois kids up and down the rosters. All three are winning and getting it done with in-state players.
How about Division III? Again, no shortage of Illinois kids here with No. 7 Wheaton College (4-0) No. 17 North Central College (2-2), No. 24 University of Chicago (4-0) and No. 25 Illinois Wesleyan (4-0). Throw in a (nearby) No. 1 back-to-back national champion, University of Wisconsin Whitewater (4-0) and No. 12 University of Platteville (3-1). Both schools feature Illinois-based kids all over the field and the talent level of our state continues to show well.
So maybe, just maybe, this could be one of those seasons where the Prairie State might be a little bit better than advertised?
For state pride sake, we can only hope...and keep beating everyone on all levels.