UI grade vs. SIU: C minus (w/video)
Beat writer Macus Jackson's take on Saturday's 42-34 Illini win against Southern Illinois:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois.
They’ve been playing football at Illinois since 1890 and never has one of the program’s quarterbacks thrown for more than 300 yards in the first half of a game. The fifth-year senior did that and more Saturday and looked poised for a memorable final season in Champaign.
Southern Illinois B
Scheelhaase and his 416 yards saved this one for the Illini, who couldn’t get anything going on the ground, netting just 49 yards rushing against the FCS opponent.
Southern Illinois D
If the Salukis can light it up through the air, what are Cincinnati, Washington and the Big Ten foes going to do against the Illini secondary going forward?
Southern Illinois C
Miles Osei returned a punt for 18 yards and V’Angelo Bentley’s 100-yard kickoff return for a TD was the first at Illinois since 2008. Special teams success has been a foreign concept in recent years.
Southern Illinois A
There’s no excuse for being taken to the wire by an in-state FCS opponent. None. The defense has to improve in a hurry and the running game must find some traction to take the pressure off Scheelhaase and Co. A win’s a win, though, right?