So you’re saying there’s a chance.
For the first time since 2014, Illinois (4-4, 2-3 Big Ten) has won back-to-back Big Ten games with a 24-6 victory over Purdue (2-6, 1-4 Big Ten) in West Lafayette on Saturday afternoon. The Illini have now matched their win total from last season with four games to play.
The Illini came into the game as an underdog again, but as proven last week against Wisconsin, that doesn’t bother them much. The Illini rode a strong running game and a stingy defense to put the Illini at .500 entering November for the first time since 2014, the last time Illinois went bowling.
Looking ahead, the Illini need to win just two more games to earn a trip to a bowl game. With Rutgers (2-6), Northwestern (1-6), and Michigan State (4-3) still on the docket, plenty of opportunities still lie ahead. *knocks on wood*
On a gloomy day in West Lafayette, the game truly turned in the Illini’s favor when Tony Adams jumped a route and picked off Jake Plummer’s pass and took it to the house for a touchdown.
This is Adams’ second straight week with a game-altering interception, and it has all come since the Illini decided to move him out of his unnatural safety position and back to corner. That move has certainly proven itself as one of the best coaching decisions of the Lovie Smith era.
The Purdue offense struggled to get anything going through the air, the Boilermakers’ bread and butter. Each drive ended in a punt, turnover or turnover on downs, barely sniffing Illinois territory at all. Subsequently, head coach Jeff Brohm made the decision to insert backup quarterback and walk-on Aidan O’Donnell after just 20 minutes of play.
The defense continued to be the story and the strength for the Illini. In the last 10 quarters of play, Lovie’s defense has surrendered just 43 points to the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin and now Purdue. The previous ten quarters saw the Illini defense give up 110 points to Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan. Purdue finally got on the board with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
The Illini took away the ball twice and also made the routine tackles. Nate Hobbs forced a fumble that the Illini recovered to go along with Adams’ interception and Jamal Milan had a sack and four tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Illini did a good job of milking the clock, tiring the Boilermakers’ defense and running the ball effectively.
Illinois’ three-headed monster of Corbin, Brown, and Bonner got things going on the ground. The trio paced the Illini with a combined 242 yards.
Brown led the way with 112 yards in the first half alone, and finished the day with 131. Corbin added 47 yards on 12 carries himself with a touchdown and Bonner tallied 48 yards for the Illini.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- Missed Field Goal — The Illini had a redzone possession late in the second quarter that was spoiled with a James McCourt missed field goal. I guess he only hits 50+ yarders or 39 yard clutch kicks.
- Peters’s Push — Illinois tacked on its second touchdown of the first half when quarterback Brandon Peters pushed the pile forward for a QB sneak.
TWEET OF THE GAME
hahaha are we good?— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) October 26, 2019
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
This doesn’t happen...
...without this beautiful punt from the magician himself.
Blake Hayes with the finest punt of this college football season pic.twitter.com/58NqtGEew1— IllinoisLoyalty (@IllinoisLoyalty) October 26, 2019
Blake Hays has 21 punts inside the 20-yard line. On ensuing drives, opponents have score 10 points while Illinois has scored two defensive touchdowns (Adams INT at Purdue, Eifler FUM at Minnesota.— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) October 26, 2019
Illinois is net +4 on the 21 opponent drives after Hayes punts inside the 20.
The Illini return home to Champaign next weekend to take on Rutgers (2-6) on Dad’s Weekend.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT.