Before we begin the Week 3 simulation between the Illini and the Huskies, I would just like to make note that TCR's NCAA simulation is 2-0 so far this season. This week we face the Washington Huskies, a team who came into Soldier Field last year and took down the Illini 34-24 in a really good football game.
This year, the Huskies welcome the Orange and Blue faithful into Seattle for a match-up that could be the best game of the weekend. Washington is home of one of the coolest traditions in all of college football, sailgating. The stadium and campus is one of the prettiest in the country, and the fans cloaked in Purple and Gold will be loud.
Can the Illini come away with a well-earned victory? Or will Washington be "Top Dog"? (I'll see myself out...)
It didn't take long for both teams to settle into the first half. Washington opened the scoring on the first possession of the game when Cyler Miles hit John Ross for a 9 yd touchdown pass to put the Huskies up 7-0. It took one play for V'Angelo Bentley to tie the game when he took the next kickoff 95 yds to the house (seriously, I love that guy). The Illini then mounted back to back scoring drives with Josh Ferguson punching in a 1 yd touchdown and Donovonn Young from inside the 1 to put the Illini ahead 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Huskies would come right back with a pair of field goals from Cameron Van Winkle (got a name like a Bond villain) and suddenly the Huskies had cut the lead to 21-13. But Ferguson again would find the endzone from 6 yds away to give the Illini a 28-13 lead. Both teams would trade field goals before the half was over, but not before a fumbled Illinois drive failed to score before the half ended.
ILLINI 31 ~ Washington 16
For some reason, the simulated Illini seem to switch quarters with the real team in terms of scoring offenses. With the exception of an opening Zalewski field goal from 43 yds (2 for 2 with a long of 43...I'll take that all day), the Illini would not find the endzone in the third quarter. Miles and the Husky offense would put together two touchdown scoring drives (with a missed 2pt conversion) and a field goal to bring the game all the back to only a 34-32 difference going into the fourth quarter.
It was then that Wes Lunt and the Illini offense caught fire. A 5-minute drive ending in a 23 yd touchdown grab from Jon Davis put the Illini ahead 41-32. After the defense held Washington to a three and out drive, Lunt went back to work driving the offense into the Husky red-zone. But Lunt would throw an interception in the endzone giving Washington the ball without converting the drive into any points. Miles and the Husky offense took advantage of the turnover and scored on an 80 yd drive. Another failed 2pt conversion however gave the Illini a 41-38 lead. But Washington would again get the ball back and drove the game inside of 2 minutes. At the 1:48 mark, Miles would scamper into the endzone from 3 yds out and suddenly the Illini trailed 41-45.
Here we go. Illinois ball, down by four, with 1:48 remaining. Could Lunt and the offense orchestrate one more fourth quarter comeback? Sure enough, the passing offense would drive down the field and Mike Dudek hauled in a 10 yd pass from Lunt for the game winning touchdown.
Wes finished the day 29-52 for 426 yds and 2TD's (1 INT)
Ferguson ended with 31 carries for 88 yds and 2 TD's (1 Fumble)
DY5 rushed 15 times for 86 yards and a TD
Geronimo Allison caught a team high 8 passes for 121 yards
Defensively, the Illini gave up 682 yds of total offense to the Huskies (127 rushing and 555 in the air!??! Oye...)
ILLINI 48 ~ Washington 45
In the end...that's the stat that matters most.