Aug 28, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters (18) throws a pass in the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois QB Brandon Peters named starter vs. Maryland

Illinois senior quarterback Brandon Peters, who missed the past two games with a shoulder injury, is back as the starter for the team’s upcoming game against Maryland.

Peters suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in Illinois’ season-opener against Nebraska on Aug. 28.

Artur Sitkowski replaced Peters in that game and started the past two, both losses for the Illini.

Illinois coach Bret Bielema said Monday he talked with Sitkowski on Sunday about the decision

“It wasn’t anything he did or didn’t do well,” Illinois coach Bret Bielema said Monday. “He played extremely well, especially the way he first entered the game going back to the Nebraska game. … But I told him if the roles were reversed and he were the starter and was knocked out of the game and BP came in, we’d do the exact same thing 100 times over. I think honesty’s always the best policy, and that was just being real.”

Sitkowski, a transfer from Rutgers, completed 56.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 611 yards and six touchdowns against one interception.

The Illini host the Terrapins (2-0) on Friday night.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters (18) throws a pass in the first half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois awaits word on injured QB ahead of UTSA’s visit

Illinois, looking to build on a season-opening win over Nebraska, is uncertain about the status of its quarterback looking ahead to a Saturday night meeting with UTSA in Champaign, Ill.

Senior Brandon Peters started against the Cornhuskers and went 3-for-4 for 35 yards, but he left the game with a shoulder injury. Rutgers transfer Art Sitkowski filled in admirably, connecting on 12 of 15 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns as Illinois won 30-22.

Illinois coach Bret Bielema had not yet decided earlier this week who would start for the Fighting Illini (1-0) against the Roadrunners (0-0).

“All the tests came back and anything from a long-standing injury looked negative at this point, so really it’s just about his recovery,” Bielema said. “Again, it’s on his left shoulder, his non-throwing arm. It’s really just a matter of how fast he recovers from that. Not ruling him out of this week’s game but don’t really feel that he may be in that role at this point.”

Whoever is under center will benefit from an Illinois ground game that rushed for 167 yards against Nebraska. But the Illini’s defense must make some adjustments ahead of facing another dual-threat quarterback this week.

Last week, Illinois allowed Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez to throw for 232 yards, run for 111 yards and account for two touchdowns. UTSA’s Frank Harris has a similar skill-set (2,116 career passing yards, 654 career rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns).

The Roadrunners are entering their second season under head coach Jeff Traylor. They went 7-5 last year, finishing second in Conference USA West. It marked their first winning season since 2017 and just the fourth winning campaign in the program’s first 10 years.

UTSA capped off last season with an appearance in the First Responder Bowl, the program’s second-ever bowl game. The Roadrunners lost to Louisiana 31-24 in the contest in Dallas.

This Saturday’s season opener will be the Roadrunners’ first-ever matchup against a Big Ten team. UTSA has won eight of the previous 10 opening games.

UTSA is picked to finish second in its division again this year, but Traylor is focused on results, not predictions.

“To compare us to last year has nothing to do with our culture,” Traylor said this week. “We should be a lot better. I hope I am a better version of myself than I was a year ago.”

A win over Illinois would give the Roadrunners their second win against a Power 5 conference foe, joining a 2017 triumph over Baylor. But Illinois hasn’t lost to Conference USA since falling to Louisiana Tech in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl; Illinois is 2-0 against the league’s teams since then.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2019; Santa Clara, California, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (18) warms up before the game against the California Golden Bears at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois QB Peters returning for 2021 season

Illinois quarterback Brandon Peters will return for another season in 2021, the school announced Tuesday.

Peters, who transferred to Champaign after three years at Michigan, started 16 games for the Fighting Illini during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

He will take advantage of the NCAA’s blanket decision to grant an extra season of eligibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peters missed two games to injury in 2019 and missed three games in 2020 after a positive COVID-19 test.

He has completed 191 of 355 passes for 2,313 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions for the Illini. He passed for 680 yards, four TDs and three interceptions with the Wolverines from 2017-18.

Illinois, which finished 2-6 this season, hired Bret Bielema earlier this month after parting ways with head coach Lovie Smith (17-40 in five seasons).

–Field Level Media

Nov 2, 2019; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Brandon Peters (18) throws a pass against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois QB Peters out after COVID-19 positive test

Illinois starting quarterback Brandon Peters and tight end Griffin Moore tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Saturday’s game against Purdue, the school announced.

Peters and Moore tested positive on Thursday, and per Big Ten protocol, both will be sidelined until the Nov. 21 game at Nebraska.

The school said “several other players” also won’t play against Purdue or next week against Minnesota because they were identified through contact tracing as potentially being exposed to the virus.

The Illini opened the season on Oct. 23 with a 45-7 loss at Wisconsin. Peters, a senior in his second season as the starter, was 8-of-19 passing for 87 yards against the Badgers. He was the team’s leading rusher with seven carries for 75 yards.

Moore, a redshirt freshman, didn’t record a catch.

That game was a coming-out party for Wisconsin redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz, who completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. Mertz since tested positive for the virus, one of 22 Wisconsin players and staff members to do so. The Badgers’ game against Nebraska, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled.

–Field Level Media