The very first site manager, Mr. Tom Fornelli, had a post last year after each football game called The Day After where he would state his emotions 24 hours after the game. Since Illinois is going bowling for the first time since 2011 I've decided to bring it back for a week. And who knows, maybe if we win our bowl game I'll do another emotional post about Tim Beckman the savior and Illinois coach for at least a year longer.
What fight. I know most had written Tim Beckman and this year's Illini off after the bad loss to Purdue; even I had pretty much given up on Tim Beckman. After a blowout loss where Wisconsin ran for what felt like a thousand yards, Illinois faced Minnesota at home in their special Gray Ghost uniforms. I, and others, predicted the upset but the Illini actually came through this time. We were 4-4 and needed to win two out of the next four.
First it was a loss to Ohio State and then another against Iowa. We needed to win the last two games.
And they did it.
First a nail-biting win over Penn State at home where Wes Lunt struggled and Reilly O'Toole led us to victory. All it took was a couple of offensive drives and the defense managed to hold off the Nittany Lions. A battle of 5-6 teams ensued.
If you follow me on Twitter, you'd know that I was at the game yesterday. I was pretty nervous walking into the stadium; I just kept having this feeling of dread. Well, Reilly O'Toole took care of all those doubts. The defense made a nice stop and we were able to start with the ball around the 50-yard line. It seemed that the Illini had great field position the entire day.
Speaking of field position, how about Justin DuVernois? He was able to pin Northwestern deep all day and, as we know, they weren't able to get their offense going. The defense also finally forced some turnovers! One of which occurred when Zane Petty hit a Northwestern receiver which resulted in the ball bouncing right into Eaton Spence's waiting arms. The early fumbles helped as well. Jihad Ward literally ate Zach Oliver and Mason Monheim was able to fall on another ball when Oliver screwed up a read option.
These turnovers enabled the offense to score early. First O'Toole found Malik Turner in the endzone for his first career TD catch. I could see a Ryan Lankford-esque 60-something yard catch in the bowl game after he finally broke through yesterday.
After another NU punt we went right down the field then Josh Ferguson scored. Then Mikey Dudek scored on an amazing double move.
And the rest is a blur.
It feels so nice to beat Fitz! And he made it even better with that blogger comment yesterday. I'm thrilled that we beat him and the 'Cats.
It was close for a moment near the end, but we absolutely destroyed them. We played some O'Football and ran it down their throats before Monheim got a pick and returned it right in front of me. Let's go win a bowl game with all those extra practices.
Excuse me while we introduce ourself.....#ourstateourteam #illini #illinination #UNTOUCHABLES pic.twitter.com/hxgy6pAyNu— Mike Bellamy (@CoachBellamy) November 30, 2014