#21 Illini's Big Ten Championship Dreams Dealt Serious Blow By Rival Boilers, 31-21

By IlliniGuys Staff

November 12, 2022

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Aidan O'Connell threw for three touchdowns and Illinois' nationally top-ranked defense allowed six first downs by way of penalty as the 21st ranked Illini suffered a crucial upset by Purdue on Senior Day, 31-21.

With a win, Illinois (7-3, 4-3) could have controlled their own destiny on the road to a West Division title and first-ever trip to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.  But back to back losses to the Boilers and Michigan State have dropped the Illini into a four-way first place tie and leaves them very much on the outside looking in come December.

Adding injury to insult was national rushing leader Chase Brown going down late in the game with an apparent lower right leg injury.  Brown was trying to get out of bounds on a screen pass from Tommy DeVito when his foot got tangled up with the defender near the sideline.  He was helped to the injury tent and did not return to the game.  His status for next week is unknown.  Brown managed 98 rushing yards on 23 carries to see his school-record streak of consecutive 100-yard games end at ten games.

Instead, it's Purdue (6-4, 4-3) who emerges with the coveted Cannon Trophy for the sixth time in the past seven years and looking - at the moment - like the strongest team in the West.

Purdue won the battle along the line of scrimmage, not allowing McConnell to be sacked all afternoon.  He completed 25 of 40 passes for 237 yards and one interception while rushing for 33 yards on a pair of quarterback keepers.

The Boilers' defense played like it was the best unit on the field today, recording five tackles for loss and two sacks of  DeVito, who went 18-of-32 for 201 yards and an interception.

The Illini now take a two-game losing streak into 3rd ranked Michigan next week, needing a win to keep Big Ten Championship game hopes alive.

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