Each week this fall, we’ll look back at how the ‘83 Illini were doing in what turned out to be a magical run to the Rose Bowl. Today: Badgers can’t slow Illini
MADISON, Wis. — Mike White’s Illini set the stage Saturday for an epic homecoming experience at Memorial Stadium next weekend.
Sidestepping Wisconsin’s determined efforts for the third straight year, Illinois prevailed at Camp Randall Stadium 27-15 and will carry a four-game win streak against Ohio State’s Big Ten preseason favorites in yet another “biggest Illini home game in years.”
The upcoming showdown with Ohio State is draped with all kinds of bowl implications and Top 20 positioning. And it was lifted to national proportions by the UI’s ability to avert Wisconsin’s “payback” efforts.
Illinois prevailed by narrow 23-21 and 29-28 margins the last two years.
Saturday’s win, featuring a 72-yard TD pass from Jack Trudeau to Mitch Brookins in the fourth quarter, was considerably more decisive and left the UI tied with Michigan at 3-0 atop the Big Ten standings. Ohio State’s Rose Bowl hopes have already suffered a setback in a 20-14 loss to Iowa.
The new Illini, looking more like Ohio State and Michigan every week with their emphasis on rushing and defense, clung within six points of Wisconsin even as nothing seemed to click in the first half. Major penalties foiled the UI’s first two efforts to advance the football, and a 73-yard drive that carried into the second quarter netted only a 28-yard field goal by Chris White.
So it was deadlocked 3-3 when quarterback Randy Wright, passing successfully from a moving pocket to avoid the UI rush, faced fourth and 3 at the Illini 36-yard line. Anticipating a blitz, Wright fired a quick slant-in pass to ace receiver Al Toon over the middle, and when cornerback Mike Heaven bounced off the dashing Toon, he was unchallenged in his dance to the goal line.
The Illini got a break when senior Kevin Rohde hooked the extra point try wide left, and another break when the Badgers were caught holding on an Illini punt early in the third quarter. Trailing only 9-3 and given new life with the football on the Badger 28-yard line, the Illini scored in three plays. Trudeau, a shaky 9 for 24 on the day, hit Dave Williams for 11 yards to the 16, and Thomas Rooks ran it in from there on a quick-hitting trap.
No sooner had Chris White’s placement put Illinois ahead 10-9 than the Illini had the ball back. Safety Craig Swoope, an all-league candidate, swatted a Wright pass into the air and linebacker Mike Weingrad grabbed it, returned it 8 yards to the 26 and was granted another 5 when a Badger grabbed his facemask.
1. Nebraska 6-0
2. Texas 4-0
3. North Carolina 6-0
4. West Virginia 5-0
5. Auburn 4-1
6. Ohio State 4-1
7. Florida 5-0-1
8. Georgia 4-0-1
9. Arizona 5-0-1
10. Miami 5-1
11. Alabama 4-1
12. SMU 5-0
13. Michigan 4-1
14. Iowa 4-1
15. Oklahoma 3-2
16. Maryland 4-1
17. Washington 4-1
18. Arizona State 3-0-1
19. Illinois 4-1
20. BYU 4-1
Big Ten standings
And we mean 10. No Penn State, Nebraska, Maryland or Rutgers to worry about. Here are the league’s standings after the Oct. 8 games:
Big Ten Overall
Illinois 3-0 4-1
Michigan 3-0 4-1
Iowa 2-1 4-1
Ohio State 2-1 4-1
Purdue 1-1-1 1-3-1
Wisconsin 1-2 3-2
Northwestern 1-2 1-4
Indiana 1-2 2-3
Michigan State 0-2-1 2-2-1
Minnesota 0-3 1-4
30 years ago this week ...
— WDWS-AM begins “contemporary” music format.
— Johnny Carson marks 21 years on “The Tonight Show.”
— Nicaragua’s ruling junta alleges CIA with aiding anti-Sandinista rebel groups.
— Urbana sets hourly rate for new parking deck at 25 cents for the first hour and 10 cents each additional hour.
— Snipers terrorize Beirut-area Christian and Muslim sectors.
— Chicago Cubs hire Jim Frey as manager.