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Opposition Research: Western Illinois

Last year we gave you "Five Reasons to Hate" the Razorbacks' upcoming football opponent each week. It was fun while it lasted, but upon reviewing this year's schedule we quickly realized that, for the SEC games at least, the other guys are still hateable in pretty much the exact same ways (and do you really need any extra prompting to hate Texas?).

So, in order to keep things fresh, we reached out to a shadowy figure named Biggs Barker to help us with a new feature titled "Opposition Research". Biggs (if that is indeed his real name) is a computer genius who, after spending most of his teenage years in a federal prison for various hacking-related cybercrimes, has helped lead the government's domestic surveillance and wiretapping efforts.

He's engaged in enough dirty tricks to make Karl Rove blush, he already knows every last possible detail about you and, most importantly, he's a die-hard Hog fan. Here's what Biggs dug up for us on Western Illinois:

Biggs Barker is watching YOU

Location: Macomb, Ill.

Mascot: Leathernecks

Conference: Western Illinois competes in Division I-AA's the Football Championship Subdivision's (FCS) Missouri Valley Conference.

2007 Record: 6-5

Players to Watch: A Walter Payton Award finalist, All-America running back and senior Herb Donaldson needs more than 1,200 yards to become the school's all-time leading rusher (the current record holder has 4,189 career yards). He is the centerpiece of an offense that returns 19 lettermen and nine starters. Starting quarterback Matt Barr, a sophomore, totaled 1,305 yards on 115-of-207 (.556) passing last year and also rushed for 385 yards and four touchdowns on 91 attempts. [Stats courtesy of Western Illinois' official athletics site.]

Ranking: Currently No. 25 in The Sports Network's FCS Preseason Poll, right behind those elitist nerds at Harvard, two spots behind The Citadel (uh-oh) and three behind Central Arkansas. (thanks to the Razorbloggers and their top-notch game preview for the link.)

Sad Note: Head coach Don Patterson, who is in his 10th season with the program and who has compiled a 61-42 record at the school, is taking a leave of absence from the team because of his ongoing battle with tonsillar cancer. Mark Hendrickson, the team's offensive coordinator, is serving as interim head coach.

Famous Alums: Republican political strategist (and one half of a very annoying couple) Mary Matalin, former Chicago Cub star pitcher Rick Reuschel, New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, actor Michael Boatman of "China Beach" and "Spin City" fame, Olympic gold medalist Lee Calhoun, and former NFL hothead Bryan Cox.

The Troops Support Them: According to Wikipedia, Western Illinois "is the only non-military institution in the nation with permission from the Department of the Navy to use the United States Marine Corps Official seal and mascot, the Bulldog."