Illinois lose to Washington 34-24 for the Chicago Homecoming

Posted on September 14, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Huskiesillini helmet

Two undefeated teams come into Soldier Field – one will stay undefeated – who?

September 14, 2013

CHICAGO – Both teams come into the season undefeated, but only one can leave Soldier Field n the same manner… who will it be?

Well tonight it is Washington, who held off Illinois 34-24.

Huskies senior quarterback Keith Price led the charge going 28-35 for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns. Followed by running back Bishop Sankey, who added 35 carries for 208 and two scores. The first score in the game came in the second quarter on a 25 yard pass from Price.

Illinois needed a fast start, big plays on offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense to upset “ranked” Washington. Unfortunately, they didn’t get it in the first half where Washington led 10-3. And to start the second half, the Huskies picked up where they left off at, with a 4 play touchdown drive featuring Sankey, who scored on a short run, giving the visitors a commanding lead of 17-3.

Washington dominating first half stats in just about all of the important ones: first downs (14-8), rushing (67-32), total yards (278-93), and the most important one, score 10-3.

After the Huskies (2-0) marched down the field with the third-quarter kickoff for a 17-3 lead, the Illinois offense answered with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a two-yard naked bootleg by Nathan Scheelhaase with four tight ends on the field.

Nathan Scheelhaase finished the game 9 for 25 for 156 yards, 1 interception, one touchdown in the air and one on the ground.

‘‘Anytime you walk off the field without the win, there’s something missing,’’ Scheelhaase said. ‘‘We kept throwing punches, kept giving it all we had. It’s fun to be a part of that. I didn’t see that a lot last year. It was good to see that.’’

In retrospect, I want to say that all was not lost in this first loss of the season. The Illini (2-1), who trailed basically the entire game, found a way to hang around in that first half with their defense, which is looking better than anticipated — because not much was anticipated. That defense, which gave up a scary 615 yards, will need to get better. But the Illini have faith. Here the bottom line is the young Illinois defense needs to tackle better — and it will learn to do that in time.

‘‘If we were in this situation last year, it might have turned sour,’’ senior linebacker Jonathan Brown said. ‘‘But these guys fought to the end. They showed heart. With a performance like that, you can find the things you need to improve on.’’

There is still time to make adjustments and put together the right Illini plan moving forward. And their bye week comes at a good time too.

‘‘Our players came out knowing they had a chance to win this game and fought to the end,’’ coach Tim Beckman said.

Up next for the 2-1 Fighting Illini is Miami (OH), September 28 in Champaign.

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University of Illinois rolled out the red carpet and added some of the best Chicagoland and Illinois icons beginning with Jim Cornelison, fulltime national anthem singer for the 2013 Stanley Cup champions Blackhawks, who put goose bumps on everyone in attendance. In addition, Chicago Bear Hall of Famer and Illini alum, Dick Butkus tossed the ceremonial coin to begin the game.

ABOUT WASHINGTON (1-0): Senior quarterback Keith Price passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State and is 115 yards away from overtaking Brock Huard (6,391 yards from 1996-98) for third place on the school’s all-time list. Junior tailback Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards (his fifth 100-yard performance in his last six games) in a strong opening-game salvo to follow up last year’s 1,439-yard season. Junior middle linebacker – and defensive leader – John Timu racked up 13 tackles in the opener while senior safety Sean Parker made an interception.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-0): Cubit’s effect on quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been stunning as the senior has six touchdown passes in two games to surpass last season’s output (four in 246 attempts). Scheelhaase threw for a career-high 416 yards in the opener against Southern Illinois and followed up with 312 in last Saturday’s 45-17 rout of favored Cincinnati. The defense, which has experienced issues while allowing an average of 431 yards, is led by senior outside linebacker Jonathan Brown (14 tackles against Cincinnati, 23 overall), sophomore middle linebacker Mason Monheim (2.5 tackles for loss among 18 stops) and junior strong safety Earnest Thomas III (16 tackles in two games).

FUN NOTES for Fighting Illini

• The Fighting Illini (2-0) look to continue their hot start on Saturday when they head to the Windy City to host No. 19/23 Washington at Soldier Field for Chicago Homecoming (5 p.m. CT, BTN). A win would make Illinois 3-0 for only the second time in the last 12 seasons. The other was in 2011, when the Illini started the season 6-0.

• Following Saturday’s shellacking of Cincinnati, the Illini are receiving votes in both polls for the first time since Oct. 24, 2011. Illinois sits 34th in the AP poll (nine votes) and 39th in the coaches poll (three votes).

• Illinois faces its first top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Washington is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

• Scheelhaase has more passing touchdowns (six) in two games than 102 of the 123 FBS teams. He also has thrown for 728 yards, more than 116 of 123 FBS teams through week 2.

• Scheelhaase’s 728 yards are the most in Illinois’ first two games of a season since Jason Verduzco passed for 783 yards in the first two games of 1991. Scheelhaase also has six passing touchdowns, equaling the school record for most TD passes in the first two games of a season shared by Juice Williams (2008) and Kurt Kittner (2000).

• Senior LB and Butkus Award candiate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally in tackles (11.5 tpg). Brown had 14 stops against Cincinnati, a B1G single-game high this season.

• Washington leads the all-time series with the Illini by a 5-4 margin, but the teams haven’t met since 1972. The two programs are 2-2 in games played in Champaign, while Washington holds a 3-1 margin in Seattle. The Illini notched a 17-7 win in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Illinois will travel to Seattle in the third week of 2014 for a Sept. 13 tilt at Husky Stadium.

• This year is the 50th anniversary of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl victory over the Huskies, an Illini squad that was led by Chicago-born Illini legends Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski. Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, but Illinois’ defense took over and the Illini managed touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters for the 17-7 final score. Grabowski earned MVP honors, finishing with 125 yards and a touchdown.

#Illini defeated Washington in ’64 @rosebowlgame, 17-7. In the 50th anniversary @illinifootball hoping for repeat Sat, Sep 14 at @SoldierField. http://pic.twitter.com/otoTCpKtgA

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Illini win game one

Posted on September 13, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Illini get the season rolling with a victory 42-34

August 31, 2013

CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase got things started a\early and that was enough for the teams first win of the season, Saturday’s 42-34  over visiting Southern Illinois.  He also threw for a career-high 416 passing yards under the revamped offense and his performance was enough to avoid a late charge from the Salukis.

“The biggest thing is just feeling excited about a win,” said Scheelhaase, who completed 28 of 36 passes with two touchdowns as Illinois broke a nine-game skid. “To be able to come out feeling good about what happened, that’s the biggest thing rather than how many yards we threw for.”

Saturday’s game actually wasn’t decided until SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner sailed a pass from the 3 too high for tight end Adam Fuehner in the end zone on the final play. The Salukis nearly overcame a 22-point, late third-quarter deficit and could have forced overtime.

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V’Angelo Bentley’s school record-tying 100-yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter along with Josh Ferguson’s 53-yard yard touchdown catch off a screen pass in the second were two big plays the Illini sorely needed to avoid embarrassment. One could imagine the fallout had the Illini found a way to lose, particularly with second-year coach Tim Beckman already feeling heat after last season’s 2-10 record.

“Although it was not the most glorious win, I was very proud of the way the team fought,” Beckman said. “There’s no question we have to make some strides.”

“We’re here to win. We’re here to score points,” Beckman said. “We’re here to do what we need to do to be successful.

“We might have thought that we’d take a knee and run out the (half). We ain’t doing that anymore. We’re here to win.”

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The mentality around Illinois football obviously has changed and many people are looking forward to seeing more from them over the season.

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Illini Chicago Homecoming Game

Posted on September 13, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Illini host ranked Washington

September 13, 2013

Just two games into the 2013 season, but the state of Illinois is buzzing for the Fighting Illini, who are 2-0, after defeating top-contender Cincinnati 45-17 last week in a very impressionable fashion.

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On the other side of the ball, Washington (2-0) have had an impressionable win too defeating Boise State 36-6 in the season-opener. Now, the Huskies have been resting since the game against Boise allowing for their young talent to get prepared for the fast Illini offense behind the fine play of Nathan Scheelhaase.

The Fighting Illini brought in former Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit to revamp the offense, and the results were favorable in victories over Southern Illinois and Cincinnati. Illinois is averaging 43.5 points and 493 yards and has posted 17 plays of 20-plus yards after having just 34 last season. The Huskies will have All-American tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (69 receptions, 850 yards in 2012) back on the field after he was suspended for the Boise State game due to an offseason DUI charge.

The Huskies come in to Soldier Field trying to prove their season-opening thrashing of Boise State wasn’t a fluke and Illinois looks to start 3-0 for only the second time in 12 seasons when the teams met today. The Huskies shot into the national rankings after their convincing 38-6 win in their opener but went 3-10 away from Seattle over the previous two seasons. Illinois is playing at Soldier Field for only the second time.

EXTRAS

ABOUT WASHINGTON (1-0): Senior quarterback Keith Price passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State and is 115 yards away from overtaking Brock Huard (6,391 yards from 1996-98) for third place on the school’s all-time list. Junior tailback Bishop Sankey rushed for 161 yards (his fifth 100-yard performance in his last six games) in a strong opening-game salvo to follow up last year’s 1,439-yard season. Junior middle linebacker – and defensive leader – John Timu racked up 13 tackles in the opener while senior safety Sean Parker made an interception.

ABOUT ILLINOIS (2-0): Cubit’s effect on quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been stunning as the senior has six touchdown passes in two games to surpass last season’s output (four in 246 attempts). Scheelhaase threw for a career-high 416 yards in the opener against Southern Illinois and followed up with 312 in last Saturday’s 45-17 rout of favored Cincinnati. The defense, which has experienced issues while allowing an average of 431 yards, is led by senior outside linebacker Jonathan Brown (14 tackles against Cincinnati, 23 overall), sophomore middle linebacker Mason Monheim (2.5 tackles for loss among 18 stops) and junior strong safety Earnest Thomas III (16 tackles in two games).

1. Washington leads the all-time series 5-4. The programs last met in 1972, when the Huskies notched a 31-11 home victory.

2. Illinois’ lone previous contest at Soldier Field was a 10-9 victory over Washington State in 1994.

3. Sophomore WR Jaydon Mickens set career highs for receptions (nine) and yards (109) in Washington’s season opener.

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Follow the action LIVE on your mobile device at http://www.athletics.illinois.edu/livestats/xlive.htm

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FUN NOTES for Fighting Illini

�The Fighting Illini (2-0) look to continue their hot start on Saturday when they head to the Windy City to host No. 19/23 Washington at Soldier Field for Chicago Homecoming (5 p.m. CT, BTN). A win would make Illinois 3-0 for only the second time in the last 12 seasons. The other was in 2011, when the Illini started the season 6-0.

�Following Saturday’s shellacking of Cincinnati, the Illini are receiving votes in both polls for the first time since Oct. 24, 2011. Illinois sits 34th in the AP poll (nine votes) and 39th in the coaches poll (three votes).

�Illinois faces its first top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Washington is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

�Scheelhaase has more passing touchdowns (six) in two games than 102 of the 123 FBS teams. He also has thrown for 728 yards, more than 116 of 123 FBS teams through week 2.

• Scheelhaase’s 728 yards are the most in Illinois’ first two games of a season since Jason Verduzco passed for 783 yards in the first two games of 1991. Scheelhaase also has six passing touchdowns, equaling the school record for most TD passes in the first two games of a season shared by Juice Williams (2008) and Kurt Kittner (2000).

• Senior LB and Butkus Award candiate Jonathan Brown leads the Big Ten and ranks 14th nationally in tackles (11.5 tpg). Brown had 14 stops against Cincinnati, a B1G single-game high this season.

• Washington leads the all-time series with the Illini by a 5-4 margin, but the teams haven’t met since 1972. The two programs are 2-2 in games played in Champaign, while Washington holds a 3-1 margin in Seattle. The Illini notched a 17-7 win in the 1964 Rose Bowl. Illinois will travel to Seattle in the third week of 2014 for a Sept. 13 tilt at Husky Stadium.

• This year is the 50th anniversary of Illinois’ 1964 Rose Bowl victory over the Huskies, an Illini squad that was led by Chicago-born Illini legends Dick Butkus and Jim Grabowski. Washington took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter, but Illinois’ defense took over and the Illini managed touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters for the 17-7 final score. Grabowski earned MVP honors, finishing with 125 yards and a touchdown.

#Illini defeated Washington in ’64 @rosebowlgame, 17-7. In the 50th anniversary @illinifootball hoping for repeat Sat, Sep 14 at @SoldierField. http://pic.twitter.com/otoTCpKtgA

So, can the Illini continue their winning ways at their northern home, Soldier Field Saturday night? Or will the Huskies speed in the pass rush be too much for Scheelhaase?

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We will see – kickoff is at at 5p LIVE from Chicago and Soldier Field.  Follow the action with us via Twitter, @ASNN365, as well as here on our blog.

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B1G Ten Football Predictions

Posted on August 15, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Breaking down

As college football teams get started, we’re taking a quick look into the BIG Ten.

This is a snapshot of how the BIG Ten looks at this point in time, not knowing all the personnel/coaching changes that will be in place for next season. As a reminder, these can and will change during the next eight months. Ohio State is on top, and quite frankly, the Buckeyes are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Other teams such as Northwestern, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan certainly belong in the league’s lead pack, while Michigan State and Penn State both have talent as well as question marks. We don’t see a whole lot separating Nos. 2-6.

There aren’t many BCS Championship contenders in the Big Ten, but here’s what stands in the way for the conference’s elite.

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Here we go …

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1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes made the most of their sanctioned season, running the table to post just the sixth unbeaten, untied season in team history. Urban Meyer’s crew now takes aim at a Big Ten title and perhaps even a national title, its first since 2002. Junior quarterback, Braxton Miller, leads a potentially explosive offense, but Ohio State needs its young defenders to grow up in a hurry as there are depth and experience questions on that side of the ball.

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2. Northwestern: The Wildcats won 10 games in 2012 with a young team most projected to win no more than seven. Northwestern returns a very strong nucleus, led by running back Venric Mark and quarterback Kain Colter, and loses only a few key seniors. Most of the Wildcats’ talent can be found in their younger classes. The schedule gets tougher in 2013 — Northwestern opens Big Ten play with Ohio State and Wisconsin — but the Wildcats should be a major factor in the Legends Division if they can shore up their offensive line and continue to make strides on defense.

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3. Nebraska: There’s no doubt Nebraska will have one of the nation’s top offenses in 2013. Fourth-year starter Taylor Martinez returns at quarterback and has the Big Ten’s largest arsenal of weapons at his disposal. The big concerns are on defense after Nebraska hemorrhaged points and yards in its four losses this past season and loses a group of seniors. Bo Pelini needs to get his defense back on track and hope the offense can limit turnovers, a huge problem throughout this season.

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4. Wisconsin: Gary Andersen hardly inherits a bare cupboard in Madison. His predecessor, Bret Bielema, actually pointed to the 2013 team as potentially his best with the Badgers. The coaching transition could create some speed bumps, but Wisconsin returns two dynamic running backs in James White and Melvin Gordon, multiple quarterbacks with experience and a good defensive front seven led by Chris Borland. There are concerns in the secondary (three starters gone) and at wide receiver (not enough playmakers), but Wisconsin should push Ohio State in the Leaders Division.

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5. Michigan: The Denard Robinson era is over and Michigan needs offensive playmakers to replace its record-setting quarterback and surround new signal-caller Devin Gardner. A bigger concern, though, is an offensive line that struggled at times in 2012 and must replace most of its starting lineup. Coach Brady Hoke should see some of his strong early recruiting efforts pay off in Year 3, although Michigan might not have the depth to challenge for a league title until 2014. Linebacker Jake Ryan leads a defense that has improved the past two seasons but must measure up to elite competition.

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6. Michigan State

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7. Penn State

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8. Minnesota

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9. Indiana

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10. Purdue

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11. Iowa

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12. Illinois

Fun Facts about the 2013 BIG Ten season… ~click here!

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BIG Ten insight…

Posted on August 15, 2013. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Who will win it all? Who’s the contender? Who’s the pretender?

August 15, 2013

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Ohio State:

A road trip to California may trip up the Buckeyes if they sleepwalk their way through the nonconference schedule as badly as they did in 2012, but it’s wholly reasonable to think Ohio State will be 11-0 when it travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan.

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Michigan:

Notre Dame comes to town in what might be the most highly anticipated nonconference game of the Big Ten season (more on that later), and despite some heavy losses, the Irish will still have a level of talent to give Michigan all it can handle. Also, the Legends Division is basically one roadblock after another.

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Nebraska:

The Huskers should be happy to see UCLA come to town this year after the Bruins shellacked the Nebraska defense early on in 2012, but that’s still going to be the same UCLA offense with the same quarterback—and Brett Hundley’s only going to be more dangerous than last year, his freshman campaign.

TOUGHEST SCHEDULE

Iowa fans hoping for a quick return to the bowl season may be in for a rude surprise in 2013, as the Hawkeyes schedule looks to be a major hurdle on their road back to success. The nonconference schedule is manageable enough, though the trip to Iowa State usually means a loss for Kirk Ferentz. It’s what happens in the Big Ten that should doom Iowa, however.

The Legends Division should once again be one of the toughest divisions top-to-bottom in all of college football, and Iowa gets no favors from the scheduling gods when it comes to interdivisional play. Here, Iowa is saddled with games against Ohio State, Wisconsin and perennial “rival” Purdue.

All told, Iowa faces all seven Big Ten bowl teams from 2012—and the eighth game is the worst of them all, a trip to Ohio State.

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EASIEST SCHEDULE

Ohio State sort of has a built-in advantage when it comes to scheduling since it’s the only school in its division that never has to play Ohio State. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes’ last schedule before the resume-conscious 2014 slate hits is an exercise in cupcakery (new word alert).

The offseason schedule is a joke, as a trip to slumping California is the only thing that could conceivably challenge the Buckeyes. Divisional rivals Wisconsin and Penn State both come to Columbus, and the only major test on the docket is a trip to Michigan to close out the regular season—at which point Urban Meyer could easily be 23-0 as Ohio State’s head coach.

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B1G AVOIDANCE….

The Big Ten’s six-team divisions mean each team gets five divisional games a year and three interdivisional games, including one annual protected rivalry. Here are the three teams each Big Ten school gets to miss in 2013.

In the Leaders Division, Illinois avoids Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota. Indiana also won’t play Iowa; the Hoosiers also miss Nebraska and Northwestern.

Ohio State won’t play Michigan State, Minnesota or Nebraska, while Penn State gets the luxury of avoiding Iowa, Michigan State and Northwestern. Purdue won’t see Michigan, Minnesota or Northwestern, and Wisconsin is avoiding Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska.

Over in the Legends Division, Iowa won’t face Illinois, Indiana or Penn State. Michigan also misses Illinois; also missing from the Wolverines’ docket are Purdue and Wisconsin. Michigan State avoids Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin.

To finish it all off, Nebraska is missing Indiana, Ohio State and Wisconsin, while Northwestern won’t face Indiana, Penn State or Purdue.

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BEST NON-CONFERENCE Matchups

Missouri at Indiana: Missouri struggled through its first season in the SEC, but the Tigers are dangerous enough to hang points on anyone—especially the porous Hoosier defense. Don’t you dare count Kevin Wilson out of a fireworks show, though.

Notre Dame at Michigan:

The Wolverines want revenge for a 13-6 loss that wasn’t nearly that close, and getting the Irish in Ann Arbor may be the opportunity they need to jump-start a special season in 2013.

Michigan State at Notre Dame:

Notre Dame was miles ahead of the Spartans in 2012, but both programs will be in rebuilding mode, and MSU could steal an enormous road win here.

UCLA at Nebraska:

The Huskers will want to avenge last year’s 36-30 loss at UCLA, and the “Blackshirt” defense will be particularly in pursuit of restoring some pride after the Bruins hung 643 yards of offense on the Huskers last year.

Wisconsin at Arizona State:

Nobody’s going to mistake Todd Graham’s Sun Devils for the elite of the Pac-12, but their demolition of Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl and eight-win season served notice that you go to Tempe at your own peril. Wisconsin should be in for a 60-minute fight here.

BYU at Wisconsin:

The Badgers are the only two-time member of this list, which should give some indication as to how weak the Big Ten’s nonconference slate is in 2013. At any rate, this rare October non-con game should go a long way in determining bowl destinations for both schools.

And by contrary….

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WORST NON-CONFERENCE MATCHUPS

We could go 20-deep on this list. For your sake we won’t.

Wyoming at Nebraska:

We’re perversely hoping the announcers refer to this game as a “border war,” as if there’s anyone living within 100 miles of the Wyoming-Nebraska border.

Indiana State at Indiana:

In-state rivalries like this are why Indiana is a basketball state.

UNLV at Minnesota:

For the second straight year, the Rebels and Gophers kick off the season a couple days early, and for the second straight year, it will be one of the most insanely idiotic games we have ever watched. At no point in the rambling, incoherent contest will they be close to anything considered quality football. Everyone in that stadium and watching on television will be dumber for having watched it.

Illinois vs. Washington at Chicago:

They’re not seriously putting in a game’s worth of foot traffic on the notoriously dodgy Soldier Field grass for an Illinois football game, are they?

Florida A&M at Ohio State:

Braxton Miller might get in a quarter of work before his day is done. Yawn.

Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin:

The Golden Eagles weren’t even good by FCS standards; they went 3-8 in a weak Ohio Valley Conference in 2012.

Be sure to READ our story on Breaking down the BIG 10 Football with our predictions ~click here

 

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2012 Illinois vs Auburn

Posted on December 29, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Fighting Illini defeat SEC’s Auburn Tigers…..

December 29, 2012

FINAL: Illinois 81, Auburn 79.

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The 12th-ranked Illinois team gets back on track snagging a victory today against SEC’s Auburn Tigers at the world-famous United Center.

Sophomore Tracy Abrams leads all players with 27 and 8 rebounds. What a difference a year makes? In last years’ contest here at the United Center, he didn’t have any points but this year, he’s hot 4-7 from the floor, 2-3 from behind the arc, and perfect at the charity stripe 6-6.

“I was pushing the ball more than I did in any other game of the season,” Abrams said. “We’ve been pushing the ball lately in practice. I wanted to start the game like that.”

His teammate, Brandon Paul added 13 to seal the deal.

“We have a lot more weapons and a lot more confidence,” said Paul after the game.

Auburn is led by the play of Frankie Sullivan who knocked down 18. One stat the Tigers dominate with in the first half was boards 20-12, of which they are beating Illini 8-3 on offensive grabs.

So, can the Illini hold off the stingy Tigers and get their first victory here at the United Center in their last three games? Stay tune….

The Fighting Illini come into this contest tied for tops in the nation with 9.8 3-pointers per game, and with leading scorer Brandon Paul (19.2) are focused to get back to their style of play and become more efficient from beyond the arc.

“We just have to get a little better with the execution stuff,” coach John Groce said.

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On the other side of the court, Auburn comes in 5-6 record, of which their last four games against Grambling, Furman, Tennessee Tech and Winthrop, limited them to a combined 17 of 83 (20.5 percent) from 3-point range in winning three of their last four.

“Illinois is a very talented team coming off a tough loss to Missouri,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “The entire team is capable of making 3-point shots and can go off.”

Guard Frankie Sullivan, the team’s scoring leader (16.9), will try to build off a 22-point effort after nearly leading the Tigers to a comeback victory from 16 down.

“It is very exciting,” said Sullivan of playing the Illini. “We have an opportunity to put a good win on our resume. It is going to be a great challenge, and we will be up for the challenge.”

Chris Denson, another high-scoring guard, has given the team a boost after being academically ineligible the fall semester. The junior has averaged 17.0 points while shooting 57.5 percent from the floor in his first four games after finishing with 18 on 6 of 13 shooting against the Eagles.

This is the last non-Big Ten contest for Illinois before they open up conference play at Purdue on Jan. 2.

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FUN FACTS

Illinois defeated Auburn in the only other meeting between the teams, 107-103 in overtime in the championship game of the Illini Classic on Dec. 12, 1987.

While the Illini have dropped three straight and five of six at the United Center, the Tigers have lost eight straight overall against ranked opponents.

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Illinois-Georgia Tech

Posted on November 28, 2012. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

November 27, 2012

Illinois plays host to Georgia Tech

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – The Fighting Illini (8-0) had to lean on reserve guard Joseph Bertrand to knock off Georgia Tech 75-62 Wedneday night at Assembly Hall during the Big Ten / ACC Challenge.   The redshirt, 6’6″ junior hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions (sick and-1 http://youtu.be/9rNqfhfvp8w) and scored every point in a 10-0 run to ignite the Illini to the victory.

”It’s really helped my confidence,” Bertrand said. ”I’m looking to shoot them more this year. I was driving more last year. I’m looking to do both.”

After missing his first season with a knee injury, Bertrand relied upon his athleticism to get to the basket and create scoring opportunities for himself during the last two years. By concentrating on his perimeter game during individual practice sessions over the summer, he’s become tougher to guard.   ”Until you get to know him, Joe sometimes comes off like a quiet guy, but he’s got some big-time energy,” Illinois coach John Groce said. ”I very rarely will watch practice film or game film and say, ‘Bertrand isn’t playing hard.”’

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Georgia Tech rallied with two 3-pointers from guard Chris Bolden and a breakaway dunk by Jason Morris for a 54-50 lead with 10:16 left.

The lead changed hands six times in a back-and-forth first half, when Illinois shot 46.7 percent from the 3-point line while the Yellow Jackets hit 45.5 from behind the arc.

During the first half both teams played a solid, uptempo game as the home team take a 1 point lead into half 36-35. Both teams shot darn near identical: Yellow Jackets 46.2% from field and 45.5% from downtown, Illini 46.7% from both. But by the end of the contest, the home team increased their percentages, 474% from for the floor and 50% from downtown, and theYellow Jackets decreased  44.2% and 38.1% respectively.

Bertrand and Brandon Paul finished the contest with 15 points apiece, and Tyler Griffey and D.J. Richardson each had 14 points for Illinois.

Kammeon Holsey led Georgia Tech (4-2) with 14 points while Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia scored 10 apiece of which 8 came in the first half.

‘‘If you had said, ‘Would you predict 8-0?’ I probably wouldn’t have been bold enough to do that,’’ Groce said. ‘‘But our guys have been resilient. We’ve been popped in the mouth two or three times and come back in games and made big plays down the stretch. Hopefully, we continue to do that.’’

Coming into this Big Ten-ACC Challenge, the Fighting Illini are off to a fast, undefeated start of 7-0 and play host to Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in this years’ Big Ten – ACC Challenge. It just seems that first year coach John Groce and got the team to buy into his way of things and it’s working. Groce uses attacking, dribble-drive offense and they feel comfortable in it, and that is helping them make shots.

Groce said of Illinois’ Top 25 ranking. ‘‘We’re seven games in. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the recognition. But at the end of the day, what’s it mean in terms of the long-term mission we’re on to be the best team we can be in February and March?’’

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FUN NOTES

John Groce’s 8-0 start is the second-best by a first-year coach at Illinois along with Harry Combes (1947-48). Fletcher Lane started 12-0 in 1907-08, his only season as Illini coach.

After losing 12 of its last 14 games last season, Illinois is off to a strong start under Groce, who became the only coach since World War II to start his Illini career with eight straight wins.

Illinois holds a 7-1 advantage over Georgia Tech in the all-time series, including five straight wins.

 Illinois is 7-1 against Georgia Tech, including a 103-92 double-OT victory Jan. 22, 1989. That was the only other time Tech has come to Champaign. With that win, Illinois improved to 17-0 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation the next day.

Illinois entered the week as the nation’s leading 3-point shooting team, making an average of 10.9 per game.


Attendance: 12224 – Orange Crush!!!

For more on the 2012 Big Ten-ACC Challenge roundup click here.

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2012 Illinois takes on Indiana for homecoming

Posted on October 27, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Who will receive their first conference win?

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AmateurSports365.com) — As the subheading ask, well, it was Indiana defeating Illinois, 31-17, in front of 47,981 here at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. This win gives Hoosiers their first victory in the Big Ten Conference Leaders Division and hopefully getting their season back on the right track.

“It was a good win; the guys played hard,” coach Kevin Wilson shared during post-game. “I don’t know if we played particularly well; the defense rallied up and played well down the stretch. We didn’t turn it over, just the one pick early.”

Fighting Illini gots things going offensively on their opening possession with an 8-play, 73 yard drive that ended with a 2 yard pass from junior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to Eddie Viliunas (7-0).

Indiana answered on their second possession of the game with a 9 play, 75 yard drive ending with a 2-yard touchdown run by Stephen Houston tying the score 7-7. It is important to note that Mr. Houston has now scored in every contest so far for the Hoosiers, and a total of three times in the first half.

Scheelhaase (17 for 27, 176) gave the Illini back the lead (14-7) on an 8-play, 55-yard drive resulting in him running the ball in from 5 yards out in the second quarter.

Hoosiers tied the game (14-14) with 10:10 in the second quarter when Houston scored for the second time in the game on a 10-yard screen pass from Coffman. This scoring drive was setup by a 48-yard pass from Nate Sudfield to Cody Latimer.

Sudfeld took over as QB1 as starting quarterback Cameron Coffman was benched and this sparked the team as coach Wilson shared. “Yeah, (this move was) a little spark.”

Shortly after their second score, Indiana obtained their first lead (21-14) in the game when, Illinois senior, Tommy Davis, muffed a punt giving the Hoosiers the ball deep in their territory. Four plays later, Mr. Houston scored for the third time from 7 yards out, and with this score, they never looked back. The junior back finished the game 21 carries for 73 yards, plus 16 yards receiving.

The Hoosiers did everything they planned to do, including containing Illinois’ rushing attack and force the Illini to become one-dimensional. In addition, Hoosiers defense created two key turnovers.

Illini had chances, lots of them, but couldn’t capitalize, the way Indiana did on the afternoon. The Hoosiers final score came off of a 6 play, 60-yard drive in which Sudfield (10-15 for 107, 2 touchdowns) connected with Shane Wynn (31-17).

Indiana’s season started off very well with a pair of wins over non-conference foes Indiana State (24-17) and UMass (45-6), but since then it has continued to tailspin with now six consecutive losses. The Hoosiers’ four losses in league play have come in hard-fought battles against very good teams in Northwestern (44-29), Michigan State (31-27), Ohio State (52-49) and now Illinois (31-17). This makes their official Big Ten record 4-26 since the start of the 2008 season.

“We talked about how you want to get used to that feeling (of winning) and the best way to do that was to prepare and tonight we’re on a college campus and let’s try to be winning team,” coach Wilson added with perspective of the victory today. “We’ve been doing a lot of things right and it’s nice to get a Saturday scoreboard to go our way and we want a more of those.”

Saturday was homecoming for Illinois, but as Memorial Stadium emptied, the Hoosiers did all of the celebrating. The team gathered in the southeast corner of the stadium with a few dozen red-clad fans who likely shared the team’s relief in finally getting a win.

“Well, it’s Homecoming and I’m not used to being involved in losses,” said coach Tim Beckman after the game. “So I guess first and foremost, the game of football is played when you don’t turn the football over and you don’t beat yourself.”

This lose gives Illinois a five-game losing streak and they continue to spiral with multiple double-digit losses and today they suffered eight penalties for 81 yards, along with penalties, sacks and turnovers were costly. On a brighter note, the Illini had one of their best rushing days of the season with 196 yards, and had 23 first downs to Indiana’s 14.

“I was proud of the way we blocked on the perimeter and the way guys ran,” coach Beckman concluded.

Next for Indiana will host Iowa (November 3); Illinois will travel to Ohio State on the same day.

CHAMPAIGN ROOM Q&A POST GAME

Illinois coach Tim Beckman “there’s not one play that loses a games and that’s what you teach these young men, it’s a number of plays.”

Illinois coach Tim Beckman has never faced the Hoosiers until not, while IU coach Kevin Wilson is 1-1 against the Illini.

Illinois has an all-time record is now 44-56-2 on Homecoming and is 4-3 all-time in Homecoming games against the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers have scored 24 or more points in each of their games this season, the first time they have pulled off that trick in school history.

IU is averaging 13.3 points more per game this season than it did last year (34.7 vs. 21.4).

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2012 Illinois vs. Indiana Football Pregame

Posted on October 25, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Who will receive their first conference win?

October 26, 2012

Illinois (2-5, 0-3) return to Memorial Stadum for the first time in four weeks to host the Indiana Hoosiers (2-5, 0-3) as part of the University of Illinois’ 102nd Homecoming celebration on Saturday (11 am CT, BTN). Illini have played 28 games after a bye in the modern era and are 11-17 in those contests.

A pair of teams still winless in the Big Ten Conference Leaders Division try to get their seasons back on the right track when the Illinois Fighting Illini host the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday afternoon. Indiana’s season started off very well with a pair of wins over non-conference foes Indiana State (24-17) and UMass (45-6), but since then it has gone into a tailspin with five consecutive losses. The Hoosiers’ three losses in league play have come in hard-fought battles against very good teams in Northwestern (44-29), Michigan State (31-27) and Ohio State (52-49). Still, they have gone just 3-25 against Big Ten opponents since the start of the 2008 season. On the other hand, Illinois is in the midst of a four-game losing streak, falling most recently to Michigan on Oct. 13, 45-0. Unlike the Hoosiers however, the Illini have not shown much promise in their games, with all five of their losses coming by 14 points or more. They have scored a pair of wins at Memorial Stadium, although they came against obviously inferior competition (24-7 versus Western Michigan, 44-0 versus Charleston Southern).

KEYS TO THE GAME
Indiana must contain Illinois’ rushing attack and force the Illini to become one-dimensional. That means doing a better job of bottling up the read-option play that is a staple of Illinois’ offense and not allowing the Illini to run off the big plays that were so devastating to the Hoosiers when they played Northwestern and Ohio State earlier this year. IU’s defense must create turnovers, and the Hoosiers can’t suffer through offensive brownouts in the fourth quarter. Indiana must be disciplined and limit its mistakes on both sides of the ball.

FUN FACTS
This week’s game marks the 70th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Indiana Hoosiers. The Illini have won four of the last five against the Hoosiers and hold a 45-21-3 overall series advantage against IU. The Illini won last year’s meeting in Bloomington, 41-20, giving the Illini a 6-0 start to the season.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman has never faced the Hoosiers, while IU coach Kevin Wilson is 0-1 against the Illini.

The last two times the Hoosiers have come to Illinois’ Memorial Stadium, the Illini have put up 55 (2008) and 43 (2010) points in blowout victories.

INJURIES
ILLINOIS
QUESTIONABLE: Defensive end Tim Kynard (10/21, ankle), Kicker Nick Immekus (10/21, undisclosed), Tackle Corey Lewis (10/21, knee)

PROBABLE: Cornerback Terry Hawthorne (10/23, neck), Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (10/23, concussion)

OUT FOR THE SEASON: Defensive tackle Jake Howe (10/1, leg) and Linebacker Henry Dickinson (8/26, ankle/leg).

INDIANA
LB Chase Hoobler has returned to practice and could see playing time vs. Illinois this week. He last played in the first quarter in Week Two vs. UMass.

LB Jacarri Alexander has been banged up and missed last week’s game, but he is expected to be back this week.

HOMECOMING FACTS
The first homecoming celebrated on Illinois’ campus was on Oct. 15, 1910, which the Illini won 3-0 over Chicago. This year’s game against Indiana marks the Illini’s 102nd Homecoming.

Illinois has an all-time record of 44-55-2 on Homecoming.

This year will mark the seventh time overall and the second time in the last three years that the Illini have hosted Indiana on Homecoming. Illinois is 4-2 all-time in Homecoming games against the Hoosiers.

Oct. 23, 2010: Illinois 43, Indiana 13

Oct. 7, 2006: Indiana 34, Illinois 32

Oct. 25, 2002: Illinois 45, Indiana 14

Oct. 17, 1970: Indiana 30, Illinois 24

Oct. 16, 1965: Illinois 34, Indiana 13

Oct. 28, 1950: Illinois 20, Indiana 0

We will be in Champaign LIVE to breakdown the game… stay tune to AmateurSports365.com for updates, or follow us via twitter at @ASNN365.  If you don’t have the Big Ten network, you can watch the game LIVE online at http://livesportsforu.com/ncaa.html

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2012 NCAA Football – Week 8

Posted on October 22, 2012. Filed under: Football, NCAA Sports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Heart pounding finishes in several contest…

October 2012

Big Ten football isn’t always pretty, but one thing is for sure lack of separation between most of the teams means close, hard-hitting games every week. Week 8 was no different – three games came down to the last or almost last snap: Michigan’s 12-10 win over Michigan State, Nebraska’s 29-28 squeaker over Northwestern, and Ohio State’s improbable 29-22 overtime comeback victory over Purdue. Indiana even went down to the wire in a 31-30 loss to Navy.

Ohio State 29 Purdue 22 OT

Ohio State pulled one out in a game that they should have lost.  Braxton Miller was injured on the late in the third quarter and was taken to the hospital.  Purdue led 22-14 when Ohio State drove 51 yards to tie the game after the two point conversion.  Kenny Guiton came in to relieve Miller and threw a two yard TD pass to tie the game.  The loss over-shadowed a good defensive effort by the Purdue defense led by DT Kawann Short. Short is one of the best DT in the country and has now had two good games against good competition.  Earlier this year Short had a monster game in a loss to Notre Dame.

Up Next: Ohio State at Penn State, Purdue at Minnesota

Michigan 12 Michigan State 10  

Somewhere up above Fielding Yost and Bo Schembechler are smiling as Michigan football recorded their 900th victory. The Wolverines are on a roll after early season losses to Alabama and Notre Dame.  This one wasn’t pretty as it was a defensive struggle most of the way.  Michigan was down 10-9 with two minutes to play when Denard Robinson drove the ball 36 yards to set-up a Brendan Gibbons 38 yard field goal to win the game.  Robinson had 259 yards of offense on the day. The Spartans are reeling offensively when Le’Veon Bell can’t get off running.  Bell was held to 68 yards on 28 carries.

Up Next: Michigan at Nebraska, Michigan State at Wisconsin

Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28

There isn’t really anything funny I can say about this matchup as it was actually a great game. Both Nebraska and Northwestern look like teams that will earn above-average bowl games.  Nebraska now has an important tie-breaking win that will factor in the much more interesting chase for the Legends Division crown. Up next: Michigan at Nebraska, Iowa at Northwestern

Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 13

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Leaders Division winner Wisconsin Badgers! I know it’s only half way through the Big Ten schedule but seriously, Wisconsin (3-1 in Big Ten play) is the default winner of this division. Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible, Indiana can’t close out games, Purdue is mediocre and Illinois is terrible. Enjoy the trip to Indy, Wisconsin, you are the least terrible!

Up Next: Purdue at Minnesota, Michigan State at Wisconsin

Penn State 38, Iowa 14

Penn State continues to impress despite coming into the year following one of, if not the most, disastrous off-field distractions in sports history. Iowa wasn’t the strongest opponent but the Nittany Lions handled the Hawkeyes fairly easily, almost doubling them up in total offensive yards.

Navy 31, Indiana 30

For weeks it seemed that if Indiana’s defense could contain opponents, the Hoosiers could start winning games. Turns out what’s really keeping the Hoosiers from winning is their inability to finish games. For the third time during their current five game losing streak, the Hoosiers have blown fourth quarter leads, each one in a different way. The Ball State game was a double last-second comeback for both teams that ended in the Cardinals favor. The Michigan State game was controlled by the Hoosiers early, but gradually lost, resulting in a go-ahead score for the Spartans halfway through the fourth quarter. Now the Hoosiers blow a two-score lead in the final six minutes to Navy. The Hoosiers may lose almost every game, but at least they keep us guessing how they will lose it. The only way this team can truly get its confidence back is to beat up on a terrible team. Hello Illinois!

Illinois gets an extra week of practice before they play what looks like their only chance for a Big Ten win this season when it hosts Indiana. I researched, and yes, one of them will leave that weekend having won a Big Ten game, and we’ll be there LIVE.

FINAL OBSERVATION OF THE BIG TEN…

Big Ten football can almost expect these types of games over the final month and a half of the season, with unpredictable results and an exciting league race, especially in the Legends Division. They might not be as sexy or thrilling as watching a national championship contest, or most SEC games, but they will certainly keep Big Ten fans’ hearts pounding. Thus, a specific collision courses are all set for October. 27 in BIG Ten: Michigan and Nebraska! Both teams show grit to survive difficult tests, making their meeting in Lincoln a crucial one for the Legends Division race. With Iowa and Northwestern both losing, the Wolverines and Huskers stand as the top two teams in the division, and they have an intriguing game on tap. Nebraska’s high-scoring offense, which is even more potent at home, will try to top Michigan’s rapidly improving defense. Denard Robinson versus Taylor Martinez is a marquee matchup. In addition, Penn State – Ohio State!!!! Neither can make it to the Big Ten title game, due to sanctions, but they can have the best record in the Leaders conference and might just be the best two teams in the league, not just the division too. They will square off in State College in what should be a highly charged atmosphere. Add in the renewal of the recent rivalry between Wisconsin and Michigan State and a do-or-die Legends game between Northwestern and Iowa, and you can see why the Saturday before Halloween should be scary good.

NOTE: We will be LIVE in Champaign, Illinois for the Indiana – Illinois game!

Tune in next week for our recap!

****OTHER CONTEST ON OUR RADAR****
Notre Dame 17 BYU 14

A battle of great LB’s in this one with Notre Dame’s Manti T’eo and BYU’s Kyle Van Noy. T’eo is a Mormon by faith and spurned going to BYU which still doesn’t sit well in Provo.  Both Van Noy and T’eo answered the bell and had interceptions in the game.  Notre Dame’s defense is first class but this team isn’t national championship material with this offense.  Tyler Eifert is their only passing weapon and it seems they target him on every play. Notre Dame did rush for 279 yards on the ground.

NORTHERN 37, Akron 7

AKRON, Ohio (AP) – Jordan Lynch threw two touchdowns and rushed for two more as Northen Illinois routed Akron 37-7 Saturday in Mid-American Conference action. Lynch finished with 223 yards on 20 of 33 passing and threw touchdown passes of nine and four yards. Northern Illinois (7-1, 4-1) held a 13-7 lead before Lynch’s 15-yard touchdown run gave the Huskies a 20-7 advantage at halftime. After Lynch’s second touchdown pass pushed the lead to 30-7, his second touchdown run, this time a 35-yarder, created the final margin. Lynch, who finished with 131 yards on the ground, has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of the Huskies’ last six games. Akron (1-7, 0-4) struggled to move the ball, gaining just 194 yards on 65 plays from scrimmage.

Northern Illinois has won 16 of its last 17 games. Its last lost was by one point to Iowa in the 2012 season opener.

WEEK 8 FUN FACTS

 Interceptions this season of Alabama QB AJ McCarron. He ran his streak of attempts without an interception to 239 in the 44-13 win at Tennessee, extending his school record. He and Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron are the only QBs (minimum 15 attempts a game) in FBS not to be intercepted this season.

 There are only two unbeatens left in FCS… Cal Poly moved to 7-0 with a 37-25 Big Sky win against Portland State, and Lehigh moved to 8-0 with a 42-19 homecoming win against Bucknell.

 Southern Illinois has scored on three consecutive games on a blocked punt in a 38-21 win against Youngstown State. The Salukis, who also scored on a fumble recovery and interception, have won all three of those games.

 Savannah State has thirteen (13) consecutive losses and it’s the longest active streak in FCS, before outlasting Edward Waters (Fla.) of the NAIA 42-35. The Tigers had 51 points in their first six games this season.

 Harvard had fourteen (14) consecutive wins, longest active streak in all of Division I, before a 39-34 loss at Princeton. The Tigers had 29 points in the fourth quarter, including Quinn Epperly’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson with 13 seconds left.

 Southern Methodist scored a school record of 72-points  in their 72-42 win against Houston. The Mustangs had nine takeaways, tying a school record for most against an FBS team, converting four into touchdowns.

 USC’s Matt Barkley tossed a career record 102 touchdown passes, setting school and Pac-12 records. He had six TD tosses in all Saturday in a 50-6 win against Colorado. Four of them went to Robert Woods, who also set a school record for career receptions and now has 220.

Our TOP 10
1. Alabama (7-0)

2. Oregon (7-0)

3. Kansas State (7-0)

4. Florida (7-0)

5. Notre Dame (7-0)

6. LSU (7-1)

7. Oregon State (6-0)

8. Oklahoma (5-1)

9. USC (6-1)

10. Georgia (6-1)

Don’t discount… Florida State, South Carolina, Rutgers, Louisville. For a complete list of the BCS Standings, visit http://www.bcsfootball.org/

Our original, pre-season Top 10 can be found by clicking here.

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