Illinois is riding high after surviving the longest game in college football history and knocking off an elite opponent.
Coming off a nine-overtime win at Penn State, Illinois seeks a second straight win when it hosts skidding Rutgers Saturday afternoon.
The Fighting Illini (3-5, 2-3 Big Ten) pulled off a 20-18 win at then No. 7 Penn State when it won the NCAA’s first nine-overtime game. Casey Washington caught the game-winning two-point conversion from Brandon Peters to cap a game that was deadlocked at 10-all after regulation.
Peters, who began the season as the starter, threw the winning pass in place of former Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski, who was injured in the sixth overtime. Sitkowski, who suffered a broken arm, is out for the season.
“We had to just dig deep — dig deep inside,” Illinois defensive lineman Keith Randolph said. “I felt like we were built for this. All of our training paid off. We don’t want games like this, but we want to win games like this.
The upset occurred two weeks after Illinois totaled 93 yards and held the ball for 17:17 in a 24-0 loss to Wisconsin. Against Penn State — which entered the game allowing 110.3 rushing yards — Chase Brown finished with 223 yards and Josh McCray added 142 as Illinois finished with 357 rushing yards, marking the second time it has rushed for 300 yards this season.
While Illinois was making history, Rutgers, (3-4, 0-4) has had two weeks to stew over a 21-7 loss at Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights are on a four-game losing streak and have totaled 46 points after scoring 123 points in a season-opening three-game winning streak against Temple, Syracuse and Delaware.
Against Northwestern, quarterback Noah Vedral was 18 of 30 for 152 yards and Rutgers totaled 222 yards of offense while getting penalized 11 times for 90 yards after entering the game as the conference’s least penalized team.
“Totally unacceptable,” Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. “We were doing really well at the beginning of the year; we were No. 1 in the country in penalties. … (against Northwestern) we fell off a cliff.”
“It’s very disappointing. We certainly have to assess where we are and why we’re here and see what we can do to fix it. Some of it is personnel; some of it is execution. We’re trying to find an answer.”
Saturday is the eighth all-time meeting, and Illinois notched its third straight win in the series on Nov. 14, 2020 in Piscataway, N.J. when it rushed for 338 yards, forced three interceptions and got a game-winning field goal from James McCourt in a 23-20 win.
–Field Level Media