Volume 1 Issue 4 Oct 18, 2023
Before I begin I must apologize I misspelled Freshman Running Back Kaden Feagin's last name in my last article I have made the correction. So my apologies to Kaden and the Illini.
The Illini get their first B1G Ten win on the road at Maryland
The U of I football team has fallen on hard times this season, unacceptable offensive line play and no cohesion on defense have dominated Illinois more than their opponents have. After last week's loss to Nebraska, IN CHAMPAIGN, Illinois fell to 2-4 overall, 0-3 in the BIG Ten, and 0-2 in the West Conference.
In that game injuries to Josh McCray, Reggie Love III, and Kieth Randolph put a big dark cloud over this past Saturday's contest. To say it would be an uphill battle was an understatement. Maryland was coming off a 20-point loss to Ohio State dropping them from the ranks of the unbeaten. Illinois was reeling after back-to-back losses to Purdue and Nebraska being outscored 64-26.
The tale of the tape cast even further doubt on a successful outcome.
Maryland averaged 35 points per game on offense and allowed just over 17 points on defense coming into Saturday. Meanwhile, Illinois was averaging 19 points per game on offense while allowing 28 points per contest. It is not hard to understand the feeling of foreboding that was invading most of Illini Nation's thoughts. But hey that is why they play the game.
But hey, that is why they play the game
Going into Maryland many fans had dire predictions of yet another Illini disappointing loss. However, Brett Bielema and his team didn't get that memo.
Illinois won the toss and elected to differ to the second half.
The Illini would score on their first series traveling 85 yards in 7 plays True Freshman Kaden Feagin in his first start as the feature back would touch the ball 4 times for 24 yards but the big play was a 44-yard TD pass from Luke Altmyer to Pat Bryant. The Terps would tie the game at 7 on their third series after they intercepted an Altmyer pass. Illinois had the opportunity to take the lead again but, Caleb Griffin missed a field goal from 45 yards out. Maryland would then March down the field and take the lead at 14-7 with 5 minutes to go.
After an Illini punt, the Terps were on the move again. Illini fans at this point had to be thinking here it comes, but a fumble by Kaden Prather gave the Illini an opportunity with 1:36 to go. Illinois would take that opportunity and with the help of TWO 15-yard Penalties on the Maryland defense (one for hands to the face and another for roughing the passer) would put the Illini in line for a field goal chance with a 4th and 1. Maryland would call time out and Barry Lunney convinced Bielema to change his mind and go for it. Feagin would then push the ball across the goal line. and Illinois went into the locker room with a 14-14 tie.
Second half Control
With the Illini set to receive the second-half kickoff, Maryland coach Michael Locksley tried an onside kick. The Illini would recover and then go 59 yards in 4:27 and score on Isiah Williams's FIRST TD catch of the season. With the Illini up 7 points, the Defense stepped up and held off a drive by Maryland which ended in a missed FG. Illinois would then take possession and get a 40-yard field goal of their own to make it a two-score game. Maryland would put a drive together and score at the end of the third quarter to cut the lead to three. Both defenses would be very stingy in the 4th Quarter. Maryland would get close enough to convert a field goal to knot the game for the 3rd time with 1:36 to go. Images of the Toledo game came back as on a 2ns and 6 as Casey Washington would haul in a 29-yard pass from Atlmeyer and get out of bounds. Then after a 12-yard pass to Aiden Laughery and a 9-yard Altmyer run with 3 seconds to go they put the outcome of the game on the toe of Griffin who put the ball just about three feet inside the right upright from 43 yards away with time expiring to give Illinois the 27-24 win.
Stars of the game
Caleb Griffin - For the second time this season the game has come down to him and he has delivered both times.
Kaden Feagin - A true freshman in his first start as feature back against a big-time opponent 19 carries, for 84 yards and a TD. This is his second 80-yard game he gained 85 yards on 11 carries vs Purdue two weeks ago filling in after an injury to Josh McCray.
Seth Coleman - 6 solo tackles and 3 sacks on the day and 3 tackles for a loss. het spent a lot of time in the Maryland backfield.
Luke Altmyer - Despite being sacked 5 times he was 16-28, for 206 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 interception. But he looked different, he looked more in control and sure of himself
Next up for Illinois is a home date vs Wisconsin next Saturday in Champaign. It will be Homecoming for the Fighting Illini.
I am not going to say that this win is a turning point or that they will come back and win the West. But it is a start and with a Schedule that includes Indiana and Northwestern the possibility of a bowl game is there if they can just reach out and grab it.
On the Links
The Illini Golf team is ranked #9 in the country and just recently finished 3rd at the Purdue Invitational. With three golfers finishing in the top ten.
Junior Jackson Buchannon finished tied for 1st at -9, Sophomore Ryan Voois and true Freshman Max Herendeen finished tied for 6th at -4
The Illini Men's basketball team has their first exhibition game on Friday the 20th at State Farm Center Friday at 8 PM vs Ottawa University, It will be available on B1G+ and the Buesy Bank Illini Sports Network.
Then October 29th at 5 PM they square off against Kansas in the Maui Strong Relief Matchup, raising money for the victims of the Maui wildfires. That can be seen on BTN and of course available to listen in on the Buesy Bank Illini Sports Network.
Thanks for reading as always I invite your comments and questions.
You can follow me on X @tsotbgcs or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in two weeks!