Welcome to the TCR GameThread! The Fighting Illini head north to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers this afternoon, and Steve Bourbon will be covering the action for us. Make sure to refresh this page throughout the game for updates and analysis on the Orange and Blue.
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We'll have a recap up shortly after the game concludes; all post-game discussion should take place there.
15:00 - Illinois wins the toss and defers to the second half.
11:53 - Quick Minnesota touchdown. Gophers travel 72 yards on eight plays to find the end zone. Illinois' rush defense was porous, as Minnesota had plenty of room to run the whole drive.
Minnesota 7, Illinois 0
10:45 - Illinois goes three and out with a pair of incompletions sandwiching a three-yard run from Bonner. Blake Hayes pins the Gophers back at their own 13-yard line.
8:55 - Minnesota is stopped after just three plays, thanks to a heck of a tackle from Bennett Williams to corral a scrambling Croft short of the first down line.
Bennett Williams pic.twitter.com/eUs740MuWs— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 21, 2017
6:53 - The bad news: Another Illinois three and out. The good news: Blake Hayes is really darn good. Downs a punt at the Minnesota 6-yard line.
6:05 - Touchdown Illinois! Bennett Williams forces a fumble and Lovie brings in true freshman Cam Thomas at quarterback, who keeps for a nice gain before handing to Bonner on the next play for a score. Fun stuff!
Minnesota 7, Illinois 7
4:01 - The Illini defense, apparently fired up with the appearance of Thomas gets another stop and the freshman will take over at the Illinois 20-yard line.
End of 1st Quarter: Minnesota 7, Illinois 7
13:37 - Illini rotating quarterbacks on nearly every play but still manage to get down the field and into scoring position. Chase McLaughlin's 42-yard field goal is wide right however, and we're still tied here in Minnesota.
This is exactly the dull slog of a game it needs to be.— Steve (@IlliniToffee) October 21, 2017
7:43 - George Jr. gets all the snaps on the most recent Illinois drive, which stalls out after picking up just one first down. Blake Hayes continues to boom the ball in the punting game, this time he blasts a 57-yarder.
5:38 - Since giving up 72 yards on the first drive of the game, the Illinois defense has forced four punts and a turnover. The Illini rush defense has been much more stout, and Croft can't get anything going throwing the ball.
Cam Thomas pic.twitter.com/KyNuQ219Qn— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 21, 2017
3:29 - Ra'Von Bonner fumbles deep in Illinois territory and the Gophers have a prime chance to take the lead before halftime.
0:06 - Lovie uses a pair of timeouts to ice the Minnesota kicker, who doinks the 30-yard field goal off the upright. We'll go into halftime all tied up.
HALFTIME: Minnesota 7, Illinois 7
ILL: George Jr.: 6-9, 43 yds; Bonner: 11 car., 35 yds, TD; Thieman: 2 cat., 30 yds
MIN: Croft: 3-9, 25 yds, TD; Smith: 12 car., 65 yds; Kieft: 1 cat., 12 yds
12:49 - George Jr. is the quarterback and leads the team to a 3rd and 22 after two consecutive losses. A handoff to Bonner ends the drive, as the Illini are forced to punt again.
8:34 - Moral victory for the Illinois defense. Minnesota's rush offense dominated the drive all the way inside the five, but the Illini stood tall at the goal line to force the Gophers into a field goal attempt.
12 plays, 65 yards; 4:16 off the clock on that Gophers' scoring drive— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) October 21, 2017
Minnesota 10, Illinois 7
7:03 - Thomas gets a drive and overthrows a wide-open Louis Dorsey on second down, then on third down a quarterback draw can't pick up the third and long. Illini can't get traction with either quarterback at this point.
Gophers with 14 carries for 85 yards in 3Q already— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) October 21, 2017
3:02 - Minnesota continues to pound the ball on the ground but Stanley Green comes up with an interception after Nate Hobbs deflected the ball to snuff out a drive in Illinois territory. Illini defense bending but not breaking.
Stanley Green Interception pic.twitter.com/IXbEU6Lpz6— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 21, 2017
End of 3rd Quarter: Minnesota 10, Illinois 7
14:23 - Illini faced fourth and 1 from the Minnesota 28-yard line and Bonner is stuffed short of the first down, so the Illini will turn the ball over. Lovie must not have trusted McLaughlin to tie up the game after his earlier miss.
Cameron Watkins pic.twitter.com/g7tt7ZNs8g— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 21, 2017
14:09 - Illinois is back in business after an incredible interception from Cameron Watkins along the sideline. Reeled it in and was able to get a knee down in bounds.
10:07 - Using Cam Thomas' legs, the Illini drive into the red zone and dodge a major bullet when George Jr. is sacked and fumbles on third down. Luckily, the Illini recovered and kicked a field goal to tie up the game.
Cam Thomas pic.twitter.com/r38QXoqspQ— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 21, 2017
Minnesota 10, Illinois 10
4:27 - Minnesota essentially runs the same play over and over and over and runs all the way down the field for a go-ahead touchdown. Illini defense looks to be out of gas.
Minnesota 17, Illinois 10
4:11 - Thomas is picked off on the first play and the ball is returned for a touchdown. This one is probably over.
Minnesota 24, Illinois 10
0:23 - Illinois takes plenty of time, but does find the end zone, George Jr. to Ricky Smalling. Illini need an onside kick to have a chance.
Minnesota 24, Illinois 17
FINAL: Minnesota 24, Illinois 17