CHICAGO – For the first time in almost a decade, there is a game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign with a fair amount of anticipation.

You have the Illinois football team’s start to the 2022 season to thank for that.

Led by a strong defense that’s allowed the fewest points per game in FBS and an offense that features the nation’s leading rusher, the Illini are 4-1 on the season as they host Iowa for a night game on Saturday.

With a win, they would not only get closer to bowl eligibility but keep themselves in the conversation for the top of a wide-open Big Ten West division. It’s a big change for a program that’s gone 11 years without a winning season or a bowl victory, but a win over the Hawkeyes could help to increase the excitement for a fanbase starved for success.

Jeremy Werner of Illini Inquirer joined “9 Good Minutes” on WGN News Now to discuss the success of Bret Bielema’s team so far in 2022, including their decisive win over Wisconsin last Saturday. He also discussed the impact of the second-year head coach on the program as he looks to build a consistent winner in Champaign.

Illinois’ nationally-ranked defense was also a topic of discussion for Jeremy along with the offense under new coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. with big contributions from Chase Brown and QB Tommy DeVito.

Plus Jeremy also took some time to look ahead to the men’s basketball season, where Brad Underwood’s team will look for a second-straight Big Ten regular season title starting November.

You can watch Jeremy’s full discussion with Larry Hawley in “9 Good Minutes” in the video above.