What to say about this game? Wisconsin came in as a 31 point favorite. I had picked the Illini to cover the spread, given that the last couple of games in Champaign ended 24-13 and 24-10. But I did NOT pick the Illini to win.
Not many others picked the Illini to win either, and only 37K showed up, despite excellent football weather.
Yes, the following is hindsight, but Lovie Smith’s defenses do a good job vs. classical attacks…struggle with read options and lots of play actions:
And so we go to the game itself. Yes, total yards favored Wisconsin 420-315 and both teams missed makable field goals. But the Illini won the turn over battle 3-1, and got two HUGE turnovers in the 4’th quarter; the fumble thwarted a Wisconsin drive that might have iced the game, and the interception lead to the game winning field goal.
And yes, the Illini had a 2’nd quarter TD called back because of an “lineman downfield” penalty.
How it went down: first drive, no problem; 7-0 Badgers. But they started to sputter a bit; it was only 10-0 in the second quarter; the Illini were hanging around. Then game a slant pass and a spectacular touchdown run after the catch; the Illini repeatedly burned the Badger secondary when they tried man coverage.
Another drive ended in a Badger field goal and it was 13-7 at the half.
Second half: exchange of punts; then an Illinois fumble after a catch. Badgers cash in and it is 20-7; students start to leave.
But the Illini would not roll over; a drive followed by a spectacular 43 yard run (up the middle no less) kept the Illini in it; it was only 20-14.
In the 4’th quarter: that is where the “don’t give up” play happened…still it was 23-14 and I thought Wisconsin would ice the game.
Nope: though the Illini were stuffed on a 4’th and short at midfield, the Illini got a fumble at the Illini 25 and that lead to a touchdown drive capped by a nice pass.
Then came the final Wisconsin drive with just over 6 minutes to go. On 3’rd and 5, the Illini intercepted and drove to get the ball in field goal range, where the Illini kicker calmly nailed it.
Photos: Harry and I went to this; we are in Indianapolis awaiting the Colts vs. Texans.
Pretty fall day.
Workout notes: Saturday: 2 mile walk. Sunday: 5K run on the treadmill in 33:20; 32:26 at mile 3; varied the pace. It was warm and “pre-coffee”.