Matt Stevens, IlliniGuys Staff Writer
November 19, 2022
Illinois was just a few seconds and a 35-yard field goal from completing an upset of a Top 10 opponent on the road in consecutive seasons.
Unlike last season against then-No. 8 Penn State in a game that needed nine overtimes for Illinois to complete the upset, Michigan managed to survive the scare from the Illini thanks to three fourth-quarter field goals from Jake Moody including the 35-yard game winner with nine seconds remaining.
Illinois (7-4, 4-4 in Big Ten Conference) used two second-half touchdown runs by Chase Brown and its stout defense to take a 17-13 lead in the third quarter but couldn’t hang on for the win. The win for the home Wolverines (11-0, 8-0) nearly put a major dent in the Wolverines national title hopes but kept alive its hopes at a Big Ten championship as they’ll play at No. 2 Ohio State next weekend.
Brown, who had suffered a significant left leg injury last week in the home loss to Purdue, started this contest and finished with 140 yards on 29 carries and an eight-yard along with a 37-yard touchdown run. Saturday, which was Illinois’ first trip to Michigan Stadium since 2016, marked Brown's 16th career 100-yard game, which tied Robert Holcombe for the most in program history and also was his 10th 100-yard game this season, the most in a single season in Illini history.
Illinois nearly successfully rode its nationally-recognized defense, power running game and efficiency of quarterback Tommy DeVito to an upset that shifts the national dynamic of college football less than one week before Thanksgiving. The game came just over 48 hours after the news was released of the death of the mother of Illinois head coach Bret Bielema. Bielema did not attend Illinois’ Thursday practice on the day his mother passed away but was back in the Smith Family Football Center for the team meeting that evening.
Illinois found just enough offense against the nation’s best scoring defense in 2022 and puts the Illini back in the conversation for a New Year’s Day bowl game after two disappointing home losses.
Michigan easily took the opening possession of the game 75 yards for a touchdown as Blake Corum exploded for a 37-yard gain on an off-tackle run play and then pounded the football three times on a goal-to-go situation to get his 18th rushing touchdown of the 2022 season.
DeVito finished the contest 20 of 28 for 164 yards through the air but was a major component to the Illini completing a turnover-free afternoon in front of an announced attendance of 110,433 for Michigan’s Senior Day celebration game. The victory for Illinois would’ve been the first time they’ve upset a Top-3 ranked team since 2007 when Ron Zook’s Illini knocked off No. 1 Ohio State 28-21 on its way to a Rose Bowl appearance.
Corum, who finished with 108 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, suffered an injury that resulted in the first turnover of the game as a power run toward the visiting sideline saw the Heisman Trophy candidate and likely favorite for the Doak Walker Award immediately grab at his left knee after leaping over two Illinois defensive players. As he grabbed for his knee, Corum dropped the ball and the easy recovery by Jer’Zhan Newton ended a successful drive deep into Illini territory with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Corum would return to the game to an ovation from the crowd.
Illinois had two successful drives in the second quarter thanks to a resurgence of the play-action passing game. The first Illini drive deep in Michigan territory ended on the Wolverines 36-yard-line after a fourth-and-1 inside dive play to Brown was stuffed by the interior defensive line. Michigan (11-0, 8-0) are now 8 of 26 on fourth-down conversions this season.
After the Illinois defense forced a quick three-and-out, the Illini had a 10-play, 59-yard drive that resulted in another fourth-and-inches call near the 5-yard-line but a false start by Jordyn Slaughter forced a 29-yard field goal by Caleb Griffin.
Michigan used a special teams gaffe by punter Hugh Robertson as the Australian native shanked a 22-yard punt out of bounds near midfield and seven plays later, Jake Moody blasted a 46-yard field goal into a stiff wind to give the Wolverines a 10-3 lead.
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