Ok, this was 10-10 game at the half, and it was only 17-10 midway through the 3’rd quarter. Yes, I was a bit nervous.
But then Rutgers fumbled and the ball went straight to an Illini linebacker who ran it in for a touchdown, and the rout was on. Next series: drive, fumble, then the Illini hit a long TD pass to blow it open.
in the 4’th quarter, the Illini got an interception return for a touchdown to make it 38-10, at which point coach Lovie Smith flooded the field with substitutes (4 quarterbacks took snaps) and even allowed the clock to run out with the ball on the Rutgers 2 yard line.
Yes, this was Rutgers being Rutgers ..scrimmage line play wasn’t that bad, but the mistakes piled up on them.
Total yards were only 324 to 271 but that was deceptive. The Illini had 12x yards in the first quarter, and Rutgers could not guard the Illini receivers one on one. But with the lead, the Illini elected to burn clock by keeping things on the ground rather than pad their stats. The game really was as one sided as the score would indicate…at least in the second half. The first half was “toe to toe”, good old fashioned Big Ten football.
The players now enter the field from their new football center this way. You get to see just how…well, compact they are. A 240 lb. linebacker looks downright svelte as they pack a lot of muscle into a small volume.
They do this after home wins.
The sun set just before the drive home.
Will the Illini make a bowl? My guess is “yes” but winning at Michigan State (3 losses in a row to Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State) and at Iowa will be tough. Best bet is to beat Northwestern at home.