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Browns keep Illinois in first place with win at Nebraska

The Illini are a step closer to Indy.

TCR // Brad Repplinger

LINCOLN, Neb. — A sold-out Lincoln Memorial Stadium was host to a huge Big Ten West matchup on Saturday afternoon, where a win for either team meant first place in the division.

Led by big days from the Brown twins, Illinois set itself way ahead of the pack with a 26-9 win over Nebraska. With only two more Big Ten West games left (vs. Purdue, at Northwestern), being 4-1 in conference basically ensues that a win over the Boilers in a couple weekends gets you to Indianapolis.

Well, a win is a win, but it wasn't necessarily pretty at first.

Some first-half struggles seemed like it would be a key to the game, but Illinois (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) made nothing of them and eventually turned on the jets.

Nebraska (3-5, 2-3 Big Ten) got out to 9-6 first-half lead after a couple touchdowns by each team and a field goal of its own, but that was the only lead the Huskers saw.

The Illini retook the lead thanks to the Brown twins.

The twins were responsible for the ensuing touchdown as DB Sydney Brown picked off Nebraska QB Casey Thompson, setting the Illinois offense up deep in Nebraska territory. RB Chase Brown then punched it in for a touchdown after two runs for 11 yards.

Chase had the next Illini touchdown, too, as QB Tommy DeVito found him wide open on a wheel route to put the Illini up 20-9 at halftime — one of his two touchdown tosses on the day along with 179 passing yards.

Both their big days wouldn’t stop there.

After an Isaiah Williams fumble early in the third quarter, the Huskers had a great chance to get some points. Sydney said ‘no’ as he got his second interception of the day on that drive.

Up comfortably, the Illini then started to turn to the run game even more, and Chase ended up with 149 rushing yards — surpassing 100 yards for the ninth straight game.

The Illini are now 5-0 in ‘rematch’ games and have clinched their first winning season since 2011.


  • The Illini struck EARLY on a 46-yard touchdown pass from DeVito to Williams. Offense didn’t miss a beat on the first drive after the bye week.
  • In what seemed like a scoring drive, the Illini tried a trick play that lost them 12 yards. The Illini then called a timeout on what would’ve been a 52-yard field goal by Caleb Griffin. A false start penalty on the following attempt made the Illini punt instead.
  • Sydney Brown picked off Thompson in the second quarter and set the Illini up at the Husker 11-yard line. Two plays after his twin scored the go-ahead touchdown.
  • Nebraska QB Casey Thompson left the game in the second quarter due to an apparent hand injury. They had to turn to backup Chubba Purdy as Thompson did not return.
  • To add a little humor, there were two missed extra points in the game. Kicker Fabrizio Pinton missed an extra point after the first Illini touchdown. The Huskers then had their extra point blocked after their first touchdown.


Quan Martin made this interception look easy.

Sydney Brown joined in on the fun too.




The Illini will be back in Champaign next weekend to take on Michigan State.

Kickoff time and TV is TBD.