Oct 29, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Chase Brown (2) runs the ball against Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive back Jaeden Gould (8) during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Brown, defense carry No. 17 Illinois past Nebraska, 26-9

Illinois star running back Chase Brown raced for 162 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns as the No. 17 Fighting Illini defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 26-9 in their Big Ten matchup in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday.

Illini quarterback Tommy DeVito completed 20 of 22 passes for 179 yards and two scores as Illinois extended its lead in the conference’s West Division at 4-1 (7-1 overall). Purdue, which is second at 3-2, was idle. Nebraska fell to 2-3 and 3-5.

The Illini defense, which entered the weekend leading the nation in scoring defense and total defense, picked off Nebraska quarterbacks three times. Sydney Brown snared two, including one that set up Illinois to take the lead for good.

Cornhuskers quarterback Casey Thompson, who was coming off a 354-yard passing performance in a loss at Purdue on Oct. 15, threw for 172 yards in the first quarter and a half before leaving with an injury to his throwing hand.

With Nebraska leading 9-6, Thompson was hit as he tried to throw downfield. Sydney Brown grabbed the fluttering pass and returned it 37 yards to the Cornhuskers’ 11. Chase Brown carried twice from there, scoring from 1 yard out with 6:03 left before halftime to lift the Illini to a 13-9 lead.

After Nebraska went three-and-out, Illinois put together an 11-play, 72-yard drive, capped by DeVito’s 12-yard pass play to Chase Brown, who coasted into the end zone.

Chase Brown finished with 32 carries for 149 yards and three catches for 13 yards.

Sophomore Logan Smothers finished the first half at quarterback for Nebraska, and redshirt freshman Chubba Purdy took over to start the second half. Purdy went 3 of 8 passing for 15 yards and one interception.

Illinois scored on the game’s first possession, moving 75 yards on five plays, capped by DeVito’s 46-yard touchdown connection to Isaiah Williams. Williams finished with nine catches for 93 yards. The extra point kick failed.

Nebraska got on the board late in the first quarter on Timmy Bleekrode’s 26-yard field goal, which followed a nine-play drive.

The Cornhuskers then took the lead on their next possession, using five plays to go 93 yards, the last 56 as Thompson threaded a pass to Travis Vokolek down the left sideline for a catch-and-run. The extra point attempt was blocked, and Nebraska led 9-6 with 9:38 to go before halftime.

Caleb Griffin added field goals of 36 and 41 yards in the second half for Illinois.

–Field Level Media

Indiana's Jack Tuttle (14) prepares to throw a pass during fall football camp at Indiana University on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022.

Iufb Qb Jack Tuttle 1

Hoosiers try to keep Illini guessing until Friday night affair

Illinois broke in a new quarterback and crashed into the win column, and now Tommy DeVito and the Fighting Illini take the show on the road for the team’s first matchup with Indiana since 2017.

The Hoosiers are taking a page from Illinois coach Bret Bielema’s book by withholding the identity of the starting quarterback for the Friday night affair in Bloomington, Ind.

DeVito, a transfer from Syracuse named the starter for Illinois (1-0) days before the opener, leaned on Illini running back Chase Brown (three TDs) to bury Wyoming 38-6. The Illini’s bruising offensive line will be tested by the Hoosiers.

“Just impressed with what Coach Bielema’s done there in a short time he’s been there,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said Monday. “Their running back, Chase Brown, is very special. He had a great season last year and showed it again on Saturday.”

Indiana, 2-10 last season, follows Week 1 with home dates against Idaho and Western Kentucky before a Top 25 meeting at Cincinnati on Sept. 24. The stretch in September might allow the Hoosiers time to determine which quarterback gives the team the best chance to compete.

Fifth-year senior Jack Tuttle started two games in 2021 but wasn’t handed the starting job. He said he has carried himself “with a chip on my shoulder” since the end of last season, but he’s locked in a duel with Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak. The former Tigers quarterback made 20 starts at Mizzou and passed for 5,058 yards with 23 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 66.3 completion percentage.

“I’m not happy,” Tuttle said of the competition. “I’m motivated.”

DeVito played more of a game-manager role in the opener with Illinois running downhill at will against Wyoming. Allen’s defense has seven returning starters, and they largely will be keyed on Brown — 19 carries, 151 yards last week — and the ground game.

DeVito completed 27 of 37 passes for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Wyoming.

“I liked Tommy’s demeanor. Thought he did some things that don’t go in the newspaper,” Bielema said. “Just getting rid of the ball on early downs so we don’t get in negative situations. He distributed the ball to a lot of players, 12 players caught passes.”

Indiana has won three consecutive games in the series, which is led by Illinois 45-24-2.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini head coach Bret Bielema waits to take the field with his players during Saturday   s game with the Northwestern Wildcats at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema to keep Illini QB secret until Saturday

Bret Bielema knows and his starting quarterback is aware, but the Illinois head coach plans to keep the rest of the world guessing until Saturday.

Bielema said he has informed his starting quarterback of his status for Saturday’s opener against Wyoming, but his intention is to shield that information from others until gameday.

“I know who the starting QB is,” he said Monday, “our starting QB knows who it is and our team does. So, we’ll kind of stick to that messaging.”

Bielema said he treats quarterback as he would any other position and won’t publicly identify starters from depth chart competitions.

“I don’t see the advantage of (who’s starting) being known before Saturday,” he said.

Art Sitkowski and Syracuse transfer Tommy DeVito have been competing since spring practice to take over the Fighting Illini offense.

Illinois was 5-7 in 2021, Bielema’s first season at Illinois. Wyoming went 7-6 last season and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

–Field Level Media