If deprived of sleep or simply seeking a thrill at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, be sure to tune in to ESPN, which will be re-airing the instant classic that was Illinois versus Michigan this past Saturday.
Breaking several Big Ten records for scoring, last weekend’s game ended in heartbreak for Illinois as Michigan edged out the Illini in triple overtime to snap a two-game win streak against the Wolverines.
Hold That Bowl
While several representatives from the Big Ten’s bowl games were in attendance for the Michigan contest, Illinois will have to wait at least another week for the team to become bowl eligible.
A visit from 1-9 Minnesota might be just what the doctor ordered to help the team forget all about the loss and look ahead to finishing the season strong.
Despite the disappointing loss to Michigan, Illinois (5-4, 3-3) has what it takes to finish 7-5 and maybe even 8-4.
What Sport Was That Again?
Michigan and Illinois combined for 132 points on Saturday.
That’s more points than any Big Ten football game ever.
And more points that have ever been scored in a game involving Michigan.
To put that into greater perspective, only one of the last 10 meetings between the Illinois and Michigan basketball teams has yielded more than 132 combined points.
Final Score: Michigan 67, Illinois 65
A full recap of the game can be found on Writing Illini’s Gameday Binoculars.
Nick Houska’s Game Ball
- Mikel Leshoure & Nathan Scheelhaase
It is too hard to pick just one of these players for the honors this week as both were outstanding.
Leshoure was taken out of the first half with an injury, but he would return in the second half to rack up 5 touchdowns (the 4th most by a player in a single game in Big Ten history) and 172 total yards. Leshoure was named co-offensive player of the week for his performance.
Scheelhaase was equally impressive. The freshman racked up 312 total yards of offense and did not have a single turnover.
Scheelhaase received his 5th freshman of the week honor for his performance.
Seeing as how Scheelhaase has accounted for half of all of the freshman of the week honors, he is clearly the leading candidate for freshman of the year in the conference.
- Fourth Down Blunder
Late in the fourth quarter, the Illini found themselves with a 4th and 1 situation with under 6 minutes and up by a touchdown. Illinois head coach Ron Zook elected to punt the ball and try and stop the Wolverines, a decision which lead to Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier’s game-tying drive to set up overtime.
Now it is important to remember that hindsight is always 20/20, whereas decisions are much more difficult.
Zook has usually made good decisions when it comes to fourth-quarter opportunities, and Illinois hasn’t made any of the late game blunders that teams like LSU are constantly ridiculed for.
With that said, Zook himself admitted that knowing the outcome of the game, he would go for it on 4th down if he had the chance to do it over.
The Illini don’t have that chance, and crying over the loss will not do any good.
However, a lesson should be learned from this experience.
Listen to the flow of the game.
At that point in the game, the Illini had 2 rushers with more than 100 yards (and Scheelhaase was not far from the mark).
On the other hand, the Illini defense had already given up a season high 38 points to the Wolverine offense.
When the defense is not able to make the necessary stop, it is probably best to go for the first down.
While the defense had been terrific heading into this game, ranked 16th in the nation in total defense, the 600+ yards and 67 points the Wolverines hung on the Illini sent the unit’s statistics tumbling.
The Illini fell nationally from the top 20 in points and yards allowed to the mid 40’s.
Michigan’s offense may be the most explosive one in the conference, but the Illini can not allow a showing like that again if they want to make a good bowl.
Writing Illini Projection Record: 7-2 (78%)
Check back later in the week for a look at Illinois’ final home game: the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Topics: A.J. Jenkins, AJ Jenkins, Anthony Santella, Clay Nurse, Corey Liuget, Denard Robinson, Derek Dimke, Ian Thomas, Illini, Illini Football, Illinois, Illinois Fighting Illini Football, Jason Ford, Martez Wilson, Michigan, Michigan Football, Michigan Wolverines Football, Mikel Leshoure, Nathan Scheelhaase, Patrick Nixon-Youman, Ron Zook, Ron Zook Nathan Scheelhaase, Tate Forcier, Tavon Wilson, Trulon Henry, University Of Illinois