Illinois State's historic run to the Football Bowl Subdivison National Championship game has given college football fans in Illinois a reason to be excited. The Bears and Northwestern had disappointing seasons and Illinois' 6-7 season was uninspiring.
The Redbirds have made an incredible run to get to the FCS National Championship game. After a first round bye, ISU defeated Missouri Valley conference for Northern Iowa in the second round before taking to the road. They won 59-46 at fourth seed Eastern Washington and 21-18 at top seeded New Hampshire to advance to their first national championship game. Former Bear Jerry Azumah starred at UNH.
Illinois State is led by former Indiana Quarterback Tre' Roberson and running back Marshawn Coprich. Roberson transferred to ISU apparently because he grew tired of sharing the QB position with Nate Sudfeld.
Roberson was quoted in the Indianapolis Star about his reasons for transferring.
At the end of the day and in life, you've got to make the decision that is best for you. Sometimes you have to be selfish for yourself," said Roberson, who did not wish to elaborate on specifics of his decision. "I just felt like it was best for me to move on, get the best opportunity for myself and let those guys move on with their work."
Getting Roberson gave the Redbirds their last piece to getting to a championship game. A Division I level talent, Roberson had a productive last season at IU. He threw for 1128 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013 before deciding to leave one Bloomington for another. Roberson has thrown for 3064 yards and 27 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He has also run for 868 yards and ten touchdowns. His 47 yard fourth quarter touchdown run at New Hampshire capped a ISU comeback and gave them the lead in the fourth quarter.
highlights courtesy of ESPN
Running back Marshawn Coprich is the Redbirds other big star. He has rushed for 2168 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Receivers Cameron Meredith and Lechein Neblett give Roberson two excellent options through the air. Meredith led the Redbirds with 65 receptions for 1047 yards and nine touchdowns. Neblett has 52 receptions for 995 yards and eight touchdowns. Tight End James O'Shaunessy has seven touchdowns on just 27 receptions.
The Redbirds also boast an impressive pass rush. Four players on defense have at least 6.5 sacks this season.
The excitement about ISU is being felt in Illinois and beyond. Watch parties are being planned all over.
The Redbirds have posted a list of the watch parties on their website.
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