Nov 25, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Jack Lausch (12) rushes with the ball  during the first half against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern outlasts Illinois, 45-43

Trailing early in the fourth quarter, Northwestern took advantage of two special-teams turnovers to score two touchdowns in a nine-second span and rally for a 45-43 victory over Illinois in a Big Ten regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at Champaign, Ill.

Ben Bryant threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a third score to lead Northwestern (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) to a second-place tie in the Big Ten West. The Wildcats turned four Illinois turnovers into 24 points – 17 in the fourth quarter – to capture the Land of Lincoln Trophy.

John Paddock produced 334 passing yards and three touchdowns for Illinois (5-7, 3-6), which needed to win to become bowl-eligible. Casey Washington caught nine passes for 218 yards and 3 scores – all career-highs – capped by an 80-yard touchdown with 55 seconds left that pulled the Illini within two.

Illinois claimed a 31-28 lead with 13:12 to play when wide receiver Isaiah Williams, a converted quarterback, took a toss to the right and flipped a 14-yard strike to uncovered Patrick Bryant for his first touchdown pass since Dec. 19, 2020.

Illinois’ defense held on the next possession, but Williams muffed a punt that Northwestern’s Raymond Niro III recovered at the Illini 24-yard line. Bryant capped the brief drive by scrambling 8 yards for a 35-31 lead with 10:04 to go.

Illinois’ Kenari Wilcher fumbled the subsequent kickoff that Garner Wallace caught at the 17. He broke multiple tackles to get into the end zone for NU’s second touchdown in nine seconds and a 42-31 margin.

The Fighting Illini pulled within 42-37 on Washington’s 1-yard touchdown catch with 7:17 left and regained possession on Tyler Strain’s interception, but Northwestern linebacker Xander Mueller intercepted a ricochet in Illinois territory to set up Jack Olson’s 46-yard field goal for a 45-37 lead with 2:56 remaining.

Illinois had two more possessions to pull even – and Paddock connected with Washington for an 80-yard touchdown that he caught over the middle at Illinois’ 41 and outraced NU defenders to the right corner of the end zone. Paddock’s two-point conversion pass to tie deflected off the helmet of leaping Northwestern lineman Dominic Bastone and fell incomplete.

Illinois scored 17 straight points in the second quarter – capped by free safety Miles Scott’s 55-yard interception return – to take a 20-14 lead with 1:09 left. But Northwestern regained momentum and a 21-20 lead with eight seconds to go in the half – thanks to offensive lineman Dom D’Antonio recovering Anthony Tyus III’s fumble in the end zone.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Ben Bryant (2) looks to pass against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the first quarter at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern stands between Illinois and one more game

Northwestern edged visiting Purdue last week to become bowl eligible.

On Saturday, the Wildcats can deny in-state rival Illinois the same postseason distinction with a road victory, but Northwestern coach David Braun insists that doesn’t factor into the team’s preparation for the Big Ten contest in Champaign, Ill.

“That’s not on my mind. … We talk about leaving no doubt, and this is an opportunity to do that,” Braun said.

Cam Porter rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns and Ben Bryant passed for 230 yards and a score to boost Northwestern to a 23-15 win over Purdue in its home finale. That marked the third victory in four games for the Wildcats (6-5, 4-4), who have shown perseverance amid a preseason hazing scandal that resulted in the firing of longtime coach Pat Fitzgerald.

“Through the adversity, we’ve stayed strong and we’ve stayed together,” Porter said. “It was a blessing to come away with the win and go out the right way.”

Illinois (5-6, 3-5) is coming off a 15-13 road loss at Iowa. The Fighting Illini surrendered a game-winning, 30-yard touchdown run with 4:43 remaining in the game.

Iowa outgained Illinois 281-280 as both offenses struggled to find room. Reggie Love III rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown for Illinois, while John Paddock passed for 215 yards.

The Illini will aim to limit Northwestern with a defense that has used its share of lineups this season, including true freshmen such as Jaheim Clarke and Mac Resetich in the secondary.

“Put ego aside,” Illinois defensive coordinator Aaron Henry said. “I want to give whoever gives us the best chance to win the opportunity. It’s obviously a constant process. I don’t want nobody, especially in the secondary, to get comfortable thinking it’s their position because they’ve started in it or played in it consistently. … At the end of the day, it’s about, ‘Can you do your job and can you execute your job?’”

Illinois leads the all-time series with Northwestern 57-54-5 and is eyeing its third straight victory in the rivalry.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Reggie Love III (23) is tackled by Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Logan Lee (85) and linebacker Jay Higgins (34) during the second quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Iowa pulls off late win over Illinois

Kaleb Johnson’s 30-yard touchdown run with 4:43 left lifted No. 16 Iowa to a 15-13 Big Ten victory over Illinois that clinched the West Division title Saturday afternoon at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

Quarterback Deacon Hill completed 19 of 29 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown while Iowa’s defense forced a safety and broke up 13 passes — four by cornerback Jermari Harris — to take the Hawkeyes (9-2, 6-2) to their second Big Ten championship-game appearance in three years.

Illinois quarterback John Paddock, the Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 507 yards against Indiana, hit 22 of 47 passes for 215 yards. Reggie Love III rushed 18 times for 64 yards and the lone touchdown for Illinois (5-6, 3-5), which must win Saturday against Northwestern at home to claim a bowl berth.

Iowa played without junior cornerback Cooper DeJean, one of five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy that goes to the nation’s best defensive player. He underwent surgery after breaking his leg in Wednesday’s practice and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Iowa broke to a 2-0 lead on Illinois’ first possession with its FBS-leading third safety of the season. Facing third-and-long from the 5, Paddock fumbled in the end zone while in defensive end Joe Evans’ grasp. Illini tackle Zy Crisler recovered in the end zone at the 11:24 mark of the first.

Illinois didn’t run any plays that gained positive yardage on its first two drives but nabbed a 3-2 lead on Caleb Griffin’s 52-yard field goal with 3:19 left in the first.

Iowa reclaimed a 9-3 lead with 10:20 to go in the first half on Hill’s 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Addison Ostrenga in the back of the end zone to cap a 75-yard drive.

Illinois came right back with its own 75-yard march to retake the lead, with Love’s 1-yard plunge giving the Illini the 10-9 edge with 6:53 left in the half. The Illini increased their lead to 13-9 on Griffin’s 29-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter.

After punting on five consecutive possessions, Iowa produced the game-winning score on Johnson’s 30-yard run with 4:43 to go. Illinois’ Alec Bryant blocked Drew Stevens’ extra point to open the window for a game-winning field goal, but Iowa’s defensive line knocked down back-to-back passes to end Illinois’ last drive.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) celebrates his touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Williams (1) during the first half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois QB Luke Altmyer (head) cleared, to start vs. No. 16 Iowa

Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer will return to the starting lineup against No. 16 Iowa on Saturday after missing the latest game with a head injury, coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday.

Speaking with SiriusXM Big Ten radio, Bielema said Altmyer cleared the concussion protocol on Tuesday. The sophomore sustained the injury toward the end of the Minnesota game on Nov. 4.

Ball State transfer John Paddock may have made the decision a little more difficult after leading the game-winning drive against the Golden Gophers in relief of Altmyer before throwing for a Memorial Stadium-record 507 yards to go with four touchdowns against the visiting Indiana Hoosiers in last Saturday in a 48-45 overtime win.

But Bielema said there was never a doubt about the identity of his starter if Altmyer were ready.

“He was our starting quarterback before he left (the Minnesota game), and that’s where I see it now,” Bielema said on the show. “The best part that we have is if there’s any part of that that gets gray, we have a guy who has proven he can play and do some good things. Super excited about both of those guys.”

The Fighting Illini (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) have won three of their past four games and can clinch bowl eligibility with a win Saturday in Iowa City, Illinois’ final road game of the season.

Altmyer, an Ole Miss transfer, is 175 of 270 for 1,883 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first season in Champaign, Ill.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes running back Jaziun Patterson (9) and wide receiver Kaleb Brown (3) react after a touchdown by Patterson against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the fourth quarter at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Iowa in Big Ten title game if Hawkeyes beat Illinois

For No. 16 Iowa, a win Saturday means a spot in the Big Ten championship game. For Illinois, a win Saturday means a bowl berth. But there’s at least one big question affecting this game that likely won’t be answered until Senior Day kickoff at Iowa: Who’ll start at quarterback for Illinois?

Will it be senior backup John Paddock, who threw for a Memorial Stadium-record 507 yards in his first Illinois start and earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after leading the Illini (5-5, 3-4) to a 48-45 overtime win over Indiana?

Or will it be usual starter Luke Altmyer, who sat out last week’s game with a concussion but has been cleared to play? It’s not Illinois coach Bret Bielema’s style to penalize a starter for getting hurt.

“I’ve never been a coach that has ever put a player (out of) a position that they’ve lost by injury,” Bielema said Monday. “Obviously, John has played exceptionally well, from the time he entered the game two weeks ago at Minnesota to the way he played last week. I think our guys will know the plan very clear Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and we’ll make a decision as it gets closer. The good news is that we feel we’ve got two guys that we feel can play.”

Perhaps the Paddock/Altmyer debate doesn’t address the biggest question of all: Will Illinois be able to score a touchdown against Iowa (8-2, 5-2) regardless of who’s running the offense?

Over the last four weeks, the Hawkeyes have surrendered just one touchdown. For the year, Iowa has given up 11 touchdowns in 10 games while building the nation’s third-best scoring defense (12.3 points per game) and fourth-best pass-efficiency defense (100.14 rating).

“We’re clearly a better defense than we were 6-8 weeks ago,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. “But that’s what you hope for with all your guys. You hope they’re all improving. The guys have played well. They work hard in practice. They prepare. They study. And then the other component is, you gain some confidence when you do have success.”

“They’re just so, so consistent,” said Illinois offensive coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. “They make you earn every, every inch that you get. They make you earn it. And they very rarely make mistakes. That’s probably the unique nature of it is they’re just so rigid and systematic and they’re physical and tough. A lot of good qualities I’m describing. All these adjectives I’m saying would be the earmark of a great defense – and that’s what this is.”

Junior defensive back Cooper DeJean serves as the poster boy for Iowa’s defense. DeJean was named a Bednarik Award semifinalist this week – keeping him in the running for National Defensive Player of the Year – to go with his semifinalist status for the Jim Thorpe Award and the LOTT Impact Trophy.

On the flip side, Iowa’s offense hasn’t exactly been prolific. Last week’s 22-point outburst against Rutgers represented the Hawkeyes’ second-biggest Big Ten output this season. To put it a different way: Paddock threw for more yards last week (507) than Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill has thrown for in the last four weeks (441).

Ferentz, though, cares about only one number: The one in the win column. The Hawkeyes need just one win in the next two weeks to clinch their second West Division crown in the last three years.

“One thing you try to explain to the players – and I think they’ve figured this out,” Ferentz said. “There’s really no downside to winning and there’s a lot of downside to losing.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana head coach Tom Allen celebrates after defeating Wisconsin at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Janzaruk-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois, Indiana scrap for gains in standings

Indiana might not embrace the common ground with a neighboring Big Ten rival ahead of a Saturday afternoon date at Illinois in a Big Ten crossover game.

But the Hoosiers (3-6, 1-5) and Fighting Illini (4-5, 2-4) can’t ignore it exists.

Neither team performed to the level it had hoped and through nine games is grasping at faint hope for a postseason. But there is optimism thanks to upset wins by both programs last week.

Indiana (3-6, 1-5) recorded its first conference win of the season, a 20-14 triumph over Wisconsin at home to snap a four-game losing streak.

The Hoosiers will try to earn their first road victory of the season in Champaign.

“A team that’s playing really good football, their best football of the season,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said of the Fighting Illini. “Got a big win this past weekend. A big, physical football team. Have the biggest back we’ve played against, biggest running back, very athletic quarterback, really talented receivers and then a big, physical defense. One of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten.”

Indiana is 3-15 in its past 18 games against teams from Power 5 conferences. Only Vanderbilt (2-16), working out of the rugged SEC, is worse. One of Allen’s wins during that stretch came over Illinois, 23-20, in the second game of the 2022 season. Shaun Shivers scored a 1-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left to help the Hoosiers finish the job and push the IU winning streak over Illinois to four games.

Illinois earned a 27-26 win at Minnesota after backup quarterback John Paddock engineered a game-winning, 85-yard drive that was capped off by a 46-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams with 50 seconds left.

Paddock came in for starter Luke Altmyer, who suffered an undisclosed injury.

Illinois head coach Bret Bielema said Altmyer needs full medical clearance to get back on the field but said Monday “he’s trending in that direction. It’s truly got to be the in hands of our doctors. He came in and met with me about 10 o’clock (Monday) morning, and you could see the way he was interacting. I showed him a couple things on film, and he was very engaged with that.”

The Fighting Illini have won two out of their last three games, but Bielema doesn’t want his team focusing on potential bowl-eligibility over the last three games of the season.

“It’s very common for everybody to talk about the (rest of the) season,” Bielema said. “We’re about Indiana. We lost to these cats a year ago on a Friday night in a fashion where I felt like we didn’t play at our best. I was very clear with our guys this week was about Indiana preparation. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and what they’ve done. They’ve kind of turned their season.”

Allen said wide receiver Cam Camper will miss the rest of the season to have a procedure on his knee related to his 2022 ACL injury.

Illinois redshirt freshman running back Aidan Laughery is out for the year to undergo knee surgery, Bielema said.

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford (88) dives for a touchdown while Illinois Fighting Illini defensive back Miles Scott (10) defends during the first half at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Backup QB rallies Illinois to 27-26 win over Minnesota

Backup quarterback John Paddock threw a go-ahead, 46-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Williams with 50 seconds to go, and Illinois held on for a 27-26 win over host Minnesota in a Big Ten Conference matchup on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.

Williams finished with 13 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns to lead Illinois (4-5, 2-4 Big Ten). Paddock entered the game cold off the bench after starter Luke Altmyer was injured on a sack during the final drive, and he completed all three of his pass attempts for 85 yards and a touchdown.

The comeback stunned Minnesota (5-4, 3-3), which failed to secure bowl eligibility. Athan Kaliakmanis completed 11 of 22 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

Altmyer completed 24 of 31 passes for 212 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for Illinois. He led the Fighting Illini onto the field when it got the ball on its own 25-yard line with 2:47 remaining and trailing 26-21.

On third-and-11, Altmyer absorbed a sack that left him roughed up. Trainers attended to him and coach Bret Bielema sent in Paddock, a backup who had completed 12 passes this season in minimal playing time.

Paddock converted the fourth-down play with a 22-yard completion to Williams. He then found Pat Bryant for a 17-yard gain to move the ball to the Minnesota 46-yard line, and he capped off the comeback with a deep touchdown pass to Williams over the middle.

Minnesota trailed by one point entering the fourth quarter.

Kaliakmanis gave the Golden Gophers a 26-21 lead with his third touchdown pass. He lofted a pinpoint pass for Daniel Jackson, who got behind an Illinois defender and caught the ball as he fell into the end zone for a 31-yard score.

Minnesota held on to a 17-14 lead at halftime.

Elijah Spencer and Brevyn Spann-Ford each had touchdown receptions for Minnesota in the first half. For Spencer, a transfer from Charlotte, it marked his first touchdown since joining the Golden Gophers.

Tip Reiman and Williams had one touchdown catch apiece for Illinois in the first half.

After a Minnesota field goal made it 20-14, a big play gave Illinois a 21-20 lead with 10:16 remaining in the third quarter. Kaden Feagin turned a screen pass into a 54-yard touchdown as he darted down the right sideline.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini running back Kaden Feagin (3) runs the ball against Wisconsin Badgers cornerback Alexander Smith (11) during the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Big fourth quarter vaults Wisconsin over Illinois

Redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke, in his first collegiate start, hit lineman Nolan Rucci with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds remaining as the Wisconsin Badgers rallied to beat Illinois 25-21 in a Big Ten West matchup Saturday in Champaign, Ill.

Locke, a transfer from Mississippi State but never played there, started in place of injured Tanner Mordecai, who broke his throwing hand in last week’s loss to Iowa. The Badgers scored 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten), which trailed 21-7 after three quarters, pulled within 21-18 with scores on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. Nathanial Vakos kicked a 41-yard field goal with 14:13 left to play, and Locke hit Will Pauling on a 20-yard touchdown reception, plus the two-point conversion.

The Badgers forced a punt and took over on their own 17-yard line with 3:24 remaining. Locke hit Skyler Bell deep up the left side for 30 yards and a first down on the Illinois 5 with 1:06 remaining. Two running plays picked up two yards, and Locke then found Rucci uncovered in the left side of the end zone.

Wisconsin moved back atop the Big Ten West with Iowa’s 12-10 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, but the Badgers host third-ranked Ohio State on Oct. 28.

Locke completed 21 of 41 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Braelon Allen ran for 145 yards and one score on 29 carries.

Luke Altmyer, a sophomore transfer from Ole Miss, completed 13 of 21 passes for 100 yards, including touchdowns of 1 and 3 yards to stake Illinois (3-5, 1-4) to a 14-0 lead. He also ran for 100 yards.

Kaden Faegin’s 12-yard touchdown run around the right end put the Illini up 21-7 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.

The Badgers threatened midway through the second quarter, but botched a 28-yard field goal attempt. Illinois responded with a 12-play, 82-yard scoring drive, capped by Altmyer’s 3-yard pass to Tip Reiman to make it 14-0.

Wisconsin answered with a 73-yard drive, pulling within 14-7 on Allen’s 4-yard run with 31 seconds remaining in the half. Locke completed 4 of 6 passes for 66 yards on the drive.

Illinois capitalized on a fumble by Locke for its first score. Altmyer hit Tanner Arkin wide open in the right flat for a 1-yard touchdown pass to cap the 54-yard drive.

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Braedyn Locke (18) throws against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the fourth quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin turns to backup QB Braedyn Locke for trip to Illinois

If Wisconsin hopes to remain in the Big Ten West race, it will have to do so without its starting quarterback as it heads to Champaign, Ill., to face Illinois on Saturday.

The Badgers (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) are coming off a 15-6 loss to Iowa, losing signal-caller Tanner Mordecai in the process. Mordecai sustained a broken right (throwing) hand late in the first half and underwent surgery on Sunday. Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell said that Mordecai would be out indefinitely.

Redshirt freshman Braedyn Locke, a transfer from Mississippi State, replaced Mordecai against the Hawkeyes and completed 15 of 30 passes for 122 yards. Locke directed two second-half field goal drives but lost one fumble and threw an interception.

“We feel really good about his ability to execute, do a lot of the things that we have done,” Fickell said of Locke. “But everybody has their strengths, and we’ll have to play a little bit more in some of those ways towards what we feel like he can do best.”

Braelon Allen is averaging a team-high 93.2 rushing yards per game. Wisconsin lost its other top running back, Chez Mellusi, to a season-ending injury on Sept. 22 in a win over Purdue.

Meanwhile, Illinois (3-4, 1-3) picked up its first conference victory last weekend, defeating Maryland 27-24 thanks to a 43-yard field goal from Caleb Griffin on the final play of the game.

Luke Altmyer threw for 206 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He is completing 63.3 percent of his passes this season. Reggie Love III leads the team in rushing yards with 257.

Wisconsin has won 11 of the past 13 games against Illinois, including a 24-0 victory at Champaign in 2021.

The rivalry still resonates with coaching ramifications. Illinois coach Bret Bielema coached Wisconsin for seven seasons, posting a 68-24 mark from 2006-12.

Last season, Illinois routed Wisconsin 34-10 in Madison, Wis., and Badgers coach Paul Chryst was fired the next day. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard finished the season as interim coach but was passed over for Fickell. In the offseason, Bielema hired Leonhard as a senior football analyst.

“This is another rematch game, but obviously a totally different makeup kind of what we saw from a year ago,” Bielema said. “There is some carryover on the defensive side of the ball but offensively, obviously new personnel … personnel used in different ways, so this is kind of a totally new opponent in that regard.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 14, 2023; College Park, Maryland, USA;  Maryland Terrapins linebacker Fa'Najae Gotay (9) sacks Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) during the first half at SECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois edges Maryland on field goal as time expires

Caleb Griffin drilled a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift Illinois to a 27-24 win over Maryland on a dreary homecoming Saturday in College Park, Md.

Griffin’s kick capped a seven-play, 50-yard drive that featured a critical 29-yard pass from Luke Altmyer to Casey Washington down the left sideline to move the ball to the Terrapins’ 42-yard line with a minute to go. Altmyer found Aidan Laughery for 12 yards on the following play before the quarterback netted five more yards on three straight runs to set up Griffin’s game-winner.

Altmyer finished 16-for-28 for 206 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Illinois (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten). Washington hauled in four passes for 60 yards, while Laughery’s clutch catch was his only reception of the day.

Taulia Tagovailoa hit on 27 of 39 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns for Maryland (5-2, 2-2), which has lost two straight.

The Fighting Illini fell behind 14-7 in the second quarter before the Terrapins’ first lost fumble of the season changed the picture considerably.

After catching a 27-yard touchdown on Maryland’s previous possession, Kaden Prather fumbled at the Illinois 27-yard line with under two minutes left in the second quarter. The Fighting Illini benefitted from two Terrapins’ personal fouls on the ensuing possession and drove to the Maryland 2-yard line before facing a fourth-and-one.

Illinois initially sent out its field goal team but ran the offense back onto the field following a Maryland timeout. Kaden Feagin’s 2-yard touchdown plunge evened the halftime score at 14-14.

Feagin churned out 84 yards on 19 carries to complement his touchdown.

The Fighting Illini successfully double-dipped when they recovered Maryland’s surprise onside kick to begin the second half and jumped ahead 21-14 on Isaiah Williams’ 15-yard touchdown catch at the 10:33 mark in the third quarter. Griffin’s 40-yard field goal pushed Illinois’ advantage to 10 points.

The Terrapins responded when Antwain Littleton II muscled his way in for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play of the quarter to slice Maryland’s deficit to 24-21.

Illinois’ offense stalled in the fourth quarter, going three-and-out on its first three possessions. Tagovalioa guided the Terps 38 yards on six plays to set up Jack Howes’ game-tying 48-yard boot with 1:31 to go before Altmyer and Griffin’s heroics.

The Fighting Illini jumped ahead 7-0 midway through the opening quarter when Altmyer hit Pat Bryant down the right sideline for a 44-yard touchdown. Bryant finished with three receptions and a team-high 61 receiving yards.

Altmyer threw his lone interception of the first half on Illinois’ next possession, which set up Maryland’s offense near midfield. Tagovailoa capitalized by finding Sean Greeley in the flat on fourth down for a 4-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7 entering the second quarter.

–Field Level Media