Illinois Fighting Illini
Without a “bad” loss, Illinois still holds out NCAA Tournament hopes.
Illinois is 12-6 with a string of winnable games awaiting.
The story of Nebraska’s 53-43 win over Illinois Sunday is found in the numbers. Illinois made just 15 of 55 shots, 27.3 percent, the lowest an opponent has shot against Nebraska since Tim Miles became the Cornhuskers’ coach in 2012. The Fightin’ Illini’s 43 points were the second fewest allowed by a Miles-coached Nebraska team.
Leading scorer Rayvonte Rice broke his hand and is out indefinitely.
Rice is expected to be out more than a month.
The Illini coughed up a 13-point lead in the second half.
Now is the time for Illinois to prove itself.
Illinois’ 35-18 loss dropped it to 6-7 on the year.
The Illini (6-0) visit the 15th-ranked Miami Hurricanes (7-0) on Tuesday.
A different scene took place two years ago at Ryan Field.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas has a big decision awaiting this weekend.
Backup quarterback Reilly O’Toole led Illinois on a late drive that set up a game-winning David Reisner field goal, delivering a 16-14 win over Penn State on Saturday.
John Groce’s third year in Champaign comes with higher expectations.
While Illinois hung 114 points on Coppin State Sunday, coach John Groce didn’t want to talk about the offense.
The games will be played at the 7,700-seat Prairie Capital Convention Center.
Purdue gashed Illinois for 349 yards rushing and first-time starting quarterback Austin Appleby threw for a touchdown and ran for two more to lead Purdue to a 38-27 upset Saturday at Illinois.
There are no Illinois teams in the NCAA Tournament, but there are plenty of Illinois products.
Had John Groce gone to his bench earlier in the season, the Illini might be in the NCAA Tournament.
The Illini’s poor start in conference play is all too familiar.
Illinois owned the lead at halftime Wednesday, and they owned an edge on the boards over Purdue that helped the Illini get there. All that changed over the next 20 minutes.