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Illini facing tough Big Ten stretch

The Illinois football team is in the middle of a critical stretch against some of the Big Ten's test teams. It's a stretch where their season could go either way based on how they respond to the challenge.
CHAMPAIGN -- The Illinois football team is in the middle of a critical stretch against some of the Big Ten's test teams.  It's a stretch where their season could go either way based on how they respond to the challenge.

It started with that 39-19 loss at Nebraska on Saturday.  Next up is Wisconsin and then Michigan State.  Those three teams played in each of the last two Big Ten Championship games.  It is a really tough start to Big Ten play as head coach Tim Beckman tries to get his program to the next level.

"You're playing against a team that played in the championship game last year," said Beckman.  "The next opponent will be the other one.  You get to play back-to-back against the teams that were there at Lucas Oil last year."

Beckman says how they respond will be the true test of whether they have taken a step forward as a program.

"It's definitely a measuring stick," Beckman said.  "And it's definitely something that they look at, and they say, 'Okay, if we do these things right maybe it's a different football game.' "

Illinois hosts Wisconsin Saturday, October 19th (7 p.m., BTN).
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