By Zain Bando - IlliniGuys Student Correspondent
October 20, 2022
CHAMPAIGN – For the first time since I graduated, I returned to my alma-mater to watch Illinois take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a critical game to decide a frontrunner for the Big Ten West. And honestly, it was well-worth the trip, because I did a little bit of everything.
Upon arriving to the stadium, it was as crowded as I had ever seen campus. People came out in droves for this game from all over the country, from what it seemed like. I’ll admit that I was wearing an Illinois pullover, which is frowned-upon in a press box setting (Yes, I know, no cheering in the press box), but after seeing other media members in either orange or some sort of Illini-related color, I didn’t feel as alone. And no, I didn’t cheer. I promise. For the subscribers who have read my work for the last several months, you’ll remember that I was an Illini superfan during undergrad, and that I only ever been in a press box a handful of times, but each time, it was cooler. I saw a lot of familiar faces and settled in with some fruit, popcorn, a hotdog, and a cookie for the first half of the game. In addition, Citrus Bowl representatives returned to campus once again, a great sign.
Illinois played particularly well and used a similar gameplan like the one against Iowa to stiffen the Minnesota defense. And once Chase Brown scored a touchdown, the Memorial Stadium crowd was up for grabs. The reported attendance was 45,863, but it sounded a lot louder from above. Brown would finish the game with 180 yards on 41 carries, keeping his consecutive-rushing yards streak alive once again. Although he might not be a clear-cut favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, he should certainly be gaining more respect on a national level. We’ll see how that shakes out.
As for the quarterback situation, Tommy DeVito was back in the lineup once again after suffering an ankle injury a week prior. A mistake-free day, going 25-of-32 for 252 yards and a touchdown, was enough the Illini needed to secure the 26-14 homecoming win.
I ended up in the North end zone to watch the end of the game, and to put it simply, it was electric. Not to mention that I got to hangout with some fellow IlliniGuy colleagues as well.
But seriously, Illinois is BOWL ELIGIBLE. No. 18. What a time to be alive!
Overall, it was a successful weekend, and one I won’t forget. And as Bret Bielema said afterward at midfield, I-L-L.
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