Champaign, ILL. — ILLINUTGERS VIII. The Showcase of the Immortals! The Creme de la Creme!
What do you want from me?
Illinois already played in the Game of the Century last week...
Unfortunately, Illini QB Art Sitkowski was unable to play against his former mates after suffering a season-ending arm injury against Penn State. As a result, Brandon Peters got the starting nod Saturday in a disappointing 20-14 loss for the Illini.
The first half was a fairly back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to gain much separation. Rutgers struck first on a 7-yard TD run from Kyle Monangai late in the first quarter.
The Illini were able to answer early in the second on a dandy 52-yard pitch-and-catch from Peters to Isaiah Williams. That touchdown covered more yardage on one pass play than Illinois gained the entire game through the air versus Penn State.
The Scarlet Knights kicked a field goal on the ensuing possession to regain the lead at 10-7. Illinois responded — again, through the air — with a 26-yard TD toss to Daniel Barker (the same play that scored a later-rescinded touchdown last week). Illinois went to the locker room with a 14-10 halftime lead, despite possessing the football for only 11:47.
Overall, the Illini passing attack (?) totaled 153 yards in the first half.
Isaiah Williams briefly entered the game at QB for Illinois after Peters bloodied his hand on a third quarter pass to Donny Navarro. I’m not sure if that minor injury affected BP the rest of the game, but the offense stagnated after halftime, gaining a mere 81 yards.
Each team failed to score in the third, but a Noah Vedral TD run gave Rutgers the lead in the opening minute of the fourth, capping a 13-play, 88-yard drive. Valentino Ambrosio connected on a 25-yard field goal to extend Rutgers’ lead to 20-14 with 3:53 remaining.
The Illini had the ball in plus territory in the final two minutes, but Jakari Norwood was stopped on third-and-short, and Illinois was unable to convert on a 4th-and-1 pitch to Chase Brown. The Scarlet Knights picked up a first down to wrap up the W.
Illinois shredded Penn State’s top-ranked rushing defense for 357 yards last week, so naturally, the Scarlet Knights were able to bottle up the Illini running game, holding Illinois to 107 yards.
This game is yet another in a long line of frustrating, disheartening, stupefying Illini losses. After such a thrilling victory last weekend, this was an absolute letdown — ESPECIALLY at home.
- Brandon Peters (ILL): 14/19, 190 yds, 2 TD; 5 car, 25 yds.
- Chase Brown (ILL): 18 car, 67 yds; 1 rec, 7 yds.
- Isaiah Williams (ILL): 3 catches, 67 yds, 1 TD
- Blake Hayes (ILL): 8 punts, 355 yds (44.4 avg), long 57
- Tarique Barnes (ILL): 11 tackles, 1 TFL
- Isaih Pacheco (RUTG): 21 car, 91 yds
- Kyle Monangai (RUTG): 15 car, 77 yds, 1 TD
- Noah Vedral (RUTG): 10/21, 138 yds; 6 car, 56 yds, 1 TD
- Rutgers registered 23 first downs, despite going 3-for-15 on third-down conversions.
- Illinois gained just 107 rushing yards on 30 attempts. The Scarlet Knights ran the ball 51 times for 230 yards.
- Rutgers is now 53-8 under Greg Schiano when outrushing opponents, and 29-2 when gaining 200+ rush yards.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
TWEET(S) OF THE GAME
Illinois just completed a deep ball for a TD I’m not sure what to do with my hands— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) October 30, 2021
ILLINOIS THREW A DEEP BALL AND COMPLETED IT THEY DRESSED UP AS AN AIR RAID TEAM FOR HALLOWEEN— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) October 30, 2021
Nine yards on first four drives of 2H https://t.co/kvAtkDaE8e— Jeremy Werner (@JWerner247) October 30, 2021
What an absolutely pathetic and embarrassing performance following the complete antithesis of that last weekend. This is by far the most discouraging game of Bielema Year 1 IMO, if that’s a hot take.— Trevor Vallese (@TVallese) October 30, 2021
The Fighting Illini (3-6, 2-4 Big Ten) now head to the Twin Cities to challenge the Minnesota Golden Gophers next Saturday at 11 a.m. CT.