Welcome to the TCR GameThread! The Fighting Illini travel to Tampa to play the South Florida Bulls tonight, 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.
The game is currently under a weather delay. We'll keep you posted as updates come in. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
15:00 - We're close to being underway! Illinois has won the toss and defers to the second half. Kickoff soon...
14:37 - Jaylen Dunlap gets the start for Illinois, along with Nate Hobbs and Tony Adams at nickel corner. USF will play with a lot of tempo.
11:11 - USF was driving at will running the ball at will but a pair of penalties stall the drive and *guess who* Isaiah Gay blocks the 36-yard field goal! Illini take over at the 30-yard line.
9:46 - Illinois goes three and out and lost three yards. A pair of Epstein runs were stuffed and Chayce Crouch missed everyone on third and long. Illini defense quickly back onto the field.
8:27 - A lot of missed tackles for the Illini defense after hardly any last week. USF quarterback Quinton Flowers is 0 for 4 passing. Every time the Bulls pass, it's a win for the Illini defense, which is struggling to stop the run. USF at the Illini 39-yard line.
Illinois started 10 true freshmen, the most in a game in program history. The previous record was 7, last week.— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) September 15, 2017
8:20 - Welp. Flowers sidesteps a blitzing corner and finds a wide open receiver for a 39-yard touchdown. That was painful to watch. Pump the brakes on the extra point, though. Illinois (Tito Odenigbo) blocks the extra point and Nate Hobbs returns it all the way! Illinois is on the board.
South Florida 6, Illinois 2
7:23 - Crouch gets hit late on a screen pass and Deadrin Senat (defensive tackle for the Bulls and a key cog on their defense) is flagged for targeting and ejected.
6:10 - This offense is horrendous for Illinois right now. False start, offensive pass interference and general ineptitude lead to another punt. Crouch is 1 for 4 for -1 yards.
Illinois has two points, -1 passing yards, 40 penalty yards, and a 3rd and 31. pic.twitter.com/CrrXIwohhM— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) September 16, 2017
3:29 - Interception! Tony Adams with his first career interception and it was an easy one. Flowers lobs one up in a one on one situation and Adams caught it in stride. A huge relief for the Illini defense because USF has over 130 yards rushing.
Tony Adams Interception pic.twitter.com/C54YQDFUJS— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) September 16, 2017
1:50 - Just an awful decision by Crouch and he's picked off, setting up USF in the red zone. A late throw to the sideline is easily picked. Illini offense has 55 penalty yards and just 15 yards of offense.
0:50 - Another strong stand by the Illinois defense to force a field goal, although this one isn't blocked. Illini hanging on so far but it won't matter if the offense keeps spinning the tires.
South Florida 9, Illinois 2
End of 1st Quarter: South Florida 9, Illinois 2
1ST QUARTER STATS— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) September 16, 2017
11 points, 14 penalties, 2 turnovers, 2 blocked kicks
Before tonight only 1 team committed 7 penalties in any quarter this season. Both Illinois and USF did it in the 1st quarter tonight. pic.twitter.com/qzXzeXF861— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 16, 2017
12:25 - Another Illinois punt after Illinois can't convert a 3rd and 11. So many penalties have really bogged this game down.
9:12 - USF on the verge of running away with this one. Flowers connects on a deep pass and USF pounds in a touchdown on the ground. Illini defense has no answers and the offense has 45 total yards.
South Florida 16, Illinois 2
Illinois football update: 45 total yards, 85 penalty yards, still two points— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) September 16, 2017
7:25 - We're up to 22 total penalties for the game, and Illinois still can't move the ball. Blake Hayes punts it away. Illinois has 80 penalty yards and 60 yards of total offense.
3:49 - Illinois gets a stop after USF drives into Illini territory. If the Bulls didn't have so many drops, the drive would probably keep going. The main point of interest here is that the teams have combined for 25 penalties, when the NCAA record for a game is 36.
2:18 - "A stunning score by the Illini" is the way ESPN described it. Mike Epstein finally gets loose for 45 yards and takes it to the house. Since I play favorites, I'll also mention a 23-yard reception for freshman Louis Dorsey on 3rd and 6. Dude is a problem for pass defenses.
South Florida 16, Illinois 9
Mike Epstein Touchdown pic.twitter.com/l2Uicm7wtf— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) September 16, 2017
0:00 - A backbreaking score from USF as Flowers scrambles for a touchdown. Flowers dropped a dime on a 32-yard completion and the Bulls were aided by an Illini pass interference penalty. Illini receive the ball to start the second half.
Halftime: South Florida 23, Illinois 9
1st downs: USF 20, ILL 7— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) September 16, 2017
Plays: USF 49, ILL 26
Yards per play: USF 7.8, ILL 5.4
TOP: USF 18:32, ILL 11:28
Penalties: USF 14-115, ILL 12-110
13:41 - Illinois gets a nice kick return from Kendrick Foster but squanders it with a three and out. Crouch was sacked on third down and Hayes' punt goes out of bounds at the USF 40-yard line.
11:05 - USF is moving the ball at will as the Bulls are at the Illini 16-yard line, and Jamal Milan is down for the Illini. Hoping it's just cramps.
9:54 - Touchdown USF, and this game might be over. Illini offense has shown limited signs of life and the Illini defense can't slow down the high-octane Bulls offense unless it is kicking a field goal.
South Florida 30, Illinois 9
9:41 - Jeff George Jr. is now in at quarterback.
7:57 - JGJ leads a three and out with an 8-yard completion on 3rd and 9. Illini looking to pass to get back into the game and JGJ might be the best pure passer on the roster.
7:50 - Stanley Green has been ejected for targeting.
5:08 - South Florida extends its lead with a 17-yard touchdown and this is all but over.
South Florida 37, Illinois 9
End of 3rd Quarter: South Florida 37, Illinois 9
Dawson DeGroot in the game. Alllllllllll the freshman.— Ian Gold (@iansgold) September 16, 2017
13:30 - Illinois is on the board as Jeff George Jr. finds Mike Epstein on a wheel route for a 21-yard touchdown. A nice sign of life but this one is probably out of hand.
George-to-Mike Epstein Touchdown pic.twitter.com/Cpie1MlXO8— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) September 16, 2017
South Florida 37, Illinois 15
10:47 - South Florida tacks on another touchdown, as the Illini defense played all backups for most of the drive.
South Florida 44, Illinois 15
9:20 - JGJ is under pressure and floats a ball up for grabs that USF picks off easily. South Florida is back in Illinois' side of the field.
7:53 - Illini backups hold USF backups to a field goal.
South Florida 47, Illinois 15
6:13 - Positives for the Illini! Freshman Ricky Smalling catches a screen pass and zooms for 76 yards before Ra'Von Bonner bunches it in from the 2-yard line. Mike Dudek catches the two-point conversion for the Illini.
Ricky Smalling pic.twitter.com/xw3Hvuiqtr— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) September 16, 2017
South Florida 47, Illinois 23
2:18 - USF punts, pinning the Illini inside the 5-yard line. If the Illini could score a touchdown here, they will cover the spread.
FINAL: USF 47, Illinois 23