Illini Move Spring Game To Friday Night

By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Football Writer/Analyst

April 19, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Matt Stevens)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- If you want to get a final look at Illinois football before they open the 2023 season in September, your only chance now will be Friday night.

Due to forecasts calling for extended thunderstorms in central Illinois throughout Thursday afternoon and evening, the annual Orange-Blue spring game has been moved from Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. CST on Big Ten Network to 7 p.m. Friday “open scrimmage” that will not be televised at all.

Admission to Memorial Stadium on Friday night will be free to fans but inside the stadium will be the only chance to see the Illini as they’ll conduct the 15th and final spring practice a few days later behind closed doors to conclude the spring season.

"I’ll probably keep out a handful of guys that have proven they can play winning football for us,” Bielema said Saturday before the date change was announced. "But I’m looking for clean execution. I want to play offensively clean football, move the sticks, make big plays, see how things happen. Defensively, obviously, we’re looking to make stops, create field position. The kicking game will be a bit limited, but I’m excited to see it play out and under the lights.”

Now that there’s no televised audience, the format of the game has not been confirmed and Illini head coach Bret Bielema will have to decide whether or not his staff will treat it any differently than the two previous scrimmages his squad has conducted without fans in the stands.

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