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Jake Hansen dominates first half against Akron

The Illini linebacker is putting on a show.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Thankfully for Akron, it’s halftime: Which means Jake Hansen’s first half comes to an end.

Illinois’ linebacker is putting on a defensive clinic this afternoon.

Early in the game, when Akron’s quarterback Kato Nelson was scrambling, Hansen stopped him in his tracks, stripped the football and recovered it to set up the Illini for a score.

About a quarter later, the junior picked off a Nelson pass for his first career interception, setting the Illini up for points again, even though they eventually missed the field goal.

Hansen’s head coach Lovie Smith was quick to praise his junior linebacker postgame.

“Jake Hansen was outstanding,” Smith said.

After one half of play, Hansen is filling up the box score with six tackles, half a sack, a fumble forced and recovered, an interception and a nightmare for Kato Nelson and Akron.

Following a field goal on Akron’s opening drive, Hansen’s performance gave the defense enough momentum to shut down the Zips.