LIVE! UI at Soldier Field
No. 19 Washington 34, Illinois 24 — FINAL
CHICAGO — Illinois’ offense woke up late in the third quarter to rally from a 31-10 deficit behind touchdowns from Ryan Lankford and Aaron Bailey, but Washington’s high-powered offense made more plays in leading the 19th-ranked Huskies to a 34-24 win on Saturday at Soldier Field.
Huskies quarterback Keith Price completed 28 of 35 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns to lead Washington’s potent attack. The Huskies (2-0) also got 208 yards on the ground from Bishop Sankey.
Ryan Lankford caught three passes for 100 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (9 for 25, 156 yards). Donovonn Young picked up 58 yards on 13 carries for the Illini (2-1).
Washington outgained the Illini 615-327, including 273 yards on the ground.
More later on HQ.
No. 19 Washington 31, Illinois 24 — 9:10 fourth quarter
Chicago-area product Aaron Bailey comes in on 4th-and-1 and scores a 10-yard touchdown to cut the Washington lead to 31-24. The Soldier Field crowd went bonkers and most of the announced 47,312 are still in their seats. This team, though it might not win today, has a spark about it. It definitely wasn’t there last year. Should be fun the last nine minutes or so here tonight.
The Washington folks are still here and they’re getting nervous.
No. 19 Washington 31, Illinois 17 — End of third quarter
Well, if Illinois can somehow manage a couple more stops and Scheelhaase can heave a few more bombs Ryan Lankford’s way, we might have a tight finish. That’s asking quite a bit, though.
Third-quarter star: Bishop Sankey, Washington. The stud tailback more than doubled his first-half rushing total in the third quarter, carrying the ball nine times for 76 yards after rushing for 62 in the first half.
Third-quarter goat: Illinois tacklers. If you got high marks for tackling air, these guys would have been on the mark in the first half of the second half. Their poor attempts were highlighted on Jesse Callier’s 39-yard touchdown run where at least three Illinois defenders were within reach of him, but came up empty. I don’t think any of them even touched him. They missed a bunch of tackles on Jaydon Mickens’ 9-yard touchdown reception, too.
What we’re thinking: Well, this one’s probably over, but no need to fear, after the week off Miami (Ohio) should help get the Illini back on track heading into Big Ten play. I’m so glad the sun finally dipped below the seats on the west side. That thing was blinding.
Did you see that catch from Kasen Williams? That’s why he was the Parade All-American Player of the Year. He’s taking true freshman corner Jaylen Dunlap to school here in the second half. These two teams play again next year in Seattle. You should probably go. Beautiful city, beautiful stadium and Wes Lunt will be playing.
No. 19 Washington 31, Illinois 17 — 3:16 third quarter
Well, they didn’t answer with a good defensive possession. It was pretty ugly, actually with missed tackles galore on Jessee Callier’s 39-yard touchdown scamper. Illinois better keep scoring and start forcing some Washington turnovers. Did you blink? Because the Huskies scored again. This is what the fuss was all about. The Huskies have some serious weapons on the outside and they are fun to watch when they get in space.
Hope you didn't blink again, because Illinois just scored on a 72-yard bomb from Nathan Scheelhaase to Ryan Lankford. All of a sudden these guys want to make this thing a track meet.
No. 19 Washington 17, Illinois 10 — 9:14 third quarter
Pretty funny to see Nathan Scheelhaase pointing at the flag on the field as he was scoring his 2-yard touchdown. He wanted to know what the flag was fore and the official told him it was for offsides before tit was announced. Evan Wilson was excited, too. He pretty much hugged the official. Disappointed Scheelhaase didn’t high-five the official there. That always works out so well for him.
Bigt-ime answer by the Illinois offense.
This is the first time all season Bill Cubit has called designed runs for Nathan Scheelhaase. He’s wanting to keep the senior quarterback healthy, but with the way the Washington defense is playing, taking away the pass, there are gaping lanes for the QB. The Huskies might have to be more honest now.
Now, that Illinois defense from the first half has to show up for the answer.
No. 19 Washington 17, Illinois 3 — 13:02 third quarter
Whoa, what happened to that defense from the first half for Illinois? The Huskies marched right down the field, 75 yards in seven plays in 1:58 to take a 17-3 lead. There was little to no Illini resistance there and any life that was here in Soldier Field has been sucked out. Not sure what’s going on with the offense, but they’re going to have to get their stuff together in a hurry or this one could get ugly.
Why did Matt let me pick Illinois before the game? I should know better. He should know better.
In other news, John Holecek sang led the band and fans in “Hail to the Orange” at halftime. The Loyola Academy coach had a game with St. Ignatius earlier in the day.
No. 19 Washington 10, Illinois 3 — Halftime
Impressive stand by the Illini defense after Washington got to the 5 in the closing minute of the half. A pass breakup by true freshman Jaylen Dunlap on third down was the highlight. This Illinois defense has bent a lot in the first half, but haven’t broken and you’ve got to be impressed with this unit against an explosive Washington offense. They need their offense to put some points on the board, though for it to mean anything.
Second-quarter star: Bishop Sankey, Washington. The junior running back fumbled in the quarter, but he caught a Keith Price pass near the line of scrimmage and did all the work, racing 31 yards for an untouched touchdown. The game’s first touchdown provided a little excitement in what had pretty much been a snoozefest to that point.
Second-quarter goat: Taylor Zalewski, Illinois. The sophomore kicker from nearby Orland Park missed a 41-yard field goal early in the quarter that would have given his team the lead. He made good on a 40-yarder later, but can’t miss that first one.
What we’re thinking: There’s an Illinois fan wearing an electric orange Miami Dolphins Vontae Davis jersey. That thing is sweet. Too bad Vontae doesn’t play for the Dolphins anymore. That thing is awesome, though. Washington sure does hold a lot. About what I said earlier about Illinois moving to 3-0, let’s go ahead and end that conversation until the Illini at least score a touchdown today. Those big guys up front on the Illinois offense might want to go ahead and start protecting their quarterback a little bit. Nathan Scheelhaase has been sacked four times already. Illinois had allowed five sacks total through two games entering today.
No. 19 Washington 7, Illinois 0 — 11:09 second quarter
Holy crap, someone finally scored. Really, Matt Daniels could have scored on that play. Keith Price hit running back Bishop Sankey with a swing pass to the right side and he raced 31 yards untouched for a touchdown to open the game’s scoring.
Simeon Rice was introduced during the timeout after the touchdown. He certainly would have helped on that play.
The Washington fans are getting upset with the officials for standing over the ball between plays to allow substitutions. Hey, if U-Dub subs, Illinois gets to sub, too. That’s the rule, right?
No. 19 Washington 0, Illinois 0 — End first quarter
Kendall Gill, Juice Williams, Michael Buchanan and Tavon Wilson were introduced during the break. Gill is wearing a muscle shirt. Tim Beckman got all fired up on the sideline after a Jon Davis run where he carried a host of Washington defenders. He also man-hugged all the aforementioned guys during the quarter break.
First-quarter star: Austin Teitsma and Eric Finney, Illinois. The defensive lineman and outside linebacker teamed up to force and recover a Washington fumble late in the stanza to get the ball back for the Illini after the Huskies started moving the ball. The play was actually reviewed after originally being called a first down for Washington. That’s led us to where we are as the quarter ends with the Illini driving. They’ve got the ball at the Washington 15.
First-quarter goat: Steve Hull, Illinois. The former safety dropped a touchdown pass on the opening possession of the game that would have given the Illini some serious momentum early. It would have been a tough catch and Hull has been solid so far in his new role, but he’s got to come up with that one.
What we’re thinking: These fans from Washington are loud. Good for them. Illinois students taunted the Washington contingent with “We can’t hear you!” Really? You want to taunt the couple thousand folks whose team is based more than 2,000 miles away when the stadium your team is playing in is less than 200 miles from your campus is less than full?
By the way, can Illinois move to 3-0? I know, it’s early. We’ll revisit this later.
No. 19 Washington 0, Illinois 0 — 5:26 first quarter
While we wait for something cool to happen here, read about a budding women's basketball prodigy from Champaign, who had some big-time college coaches looking at her today, courtesy Fred Kroner.
Saturday was just the beginning.
The Tori McCoy Watch is officially on. The St. Thomas More sophomore — ranked as the No. 1 high school girls’ basketball recruit nationally for the Class of 2016 by Blue Star Report — participated in a 90-minute open gym Saturday at STM. Among the spectators were UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who has coached eight women’s basketball teams to national championships, and UI coach Matt Bollant.
“For our area, this is the first time in girls’ basketball for seeing recruiting at the highest scale,” St. Thomas More coach Chris Mennig said.
Auriemma, who will coach the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, was joined by his assistant, Chris Dailey.
Mennig expects more Division I coaches to make their way to Champaign, either for volleyball practices or matches in the next week, or for next Saturday’s open gym in basketball. McCoy is in her first season playing volleyball for the Sabers.
“We’ll be a stop along the way,” Mennig said, “as more coaches come through trying to show support and let the family know they are thinking about them.”
Hopefully someone scores a touchdown here soon. Maybe some more fans will show up, too.
No. 19 Washington 0, Illinois 0 — 10:32 first quarter
Steve Hull dropped a touchdown pass. That would have been huge momentum for the Illini if he comes up with that one. A tough catch, but one he’s got to come up with.
Illinois got a huge break when Scheelhaase was hit out of bounds on a third down. It ended up being 15 yards and kept the opening drive alive. I just don’t understand why guys feel the need to hit guys on the sidelines all the time.
The Illini ended up punting any way.
In case you were wondering, the crowd is bad. Worse than I thought. I figured last week’s win might help, but not so much.
I saw five school buses loaded with fans on the drive up I-57 today. Also saw a limousine bus with people decked out in orange on board.
There’s a Washington fan sitting below me. He’s had a few beers. He looks like a long-lost member of Pearl Jam.
No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois — Kickoff
Jim Cornelison was great. The Illinois fans and the impressive turnout of Washington fans all seemed to enjoy his singing. Most fans, purple and orange, were confused about the cheering aspect of Cornelison’s performance.
I see a few Warren moon jerseys. They had a nice “Huskies” chant going. The folks in purple are taking up real estate in the southeast corner of Soldier Field. They’re barking. Like dogs. Huskies, I guess.
Illini and Bears legend Dick Butkus was introduced with the team captains for the coin tos. Mr. Butkus as though he was ready to go to battle. He flipped the coin. Had to be a thrill for the Illinois and Washington captains.
Today’s Illinois captains were Jonathan Brown, Miles Osei, Steve Hull and Michael Heitz. Corey Lewis carried the American flag out of the locker room. He’s got a lot of family here today. It’s the first time his mom has seen him play in person since 2009. Jeff Allen’s mom will also be here with the Lewis family. Mrs. Allen is like a second mother to Corey.
Washington won the toss and deferred. Illinois will receive going toward the north end zone.
Temperature at game time is 71 degrees with the wind out of the south-southwest at 6 mph.
A link to live stats is at the top of this page. I’ll be back with more soon.
No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois — 15 minutes until kickoff
Marcus Jackson here, I’ll be with you the rest of the way. I hope you’re all ok reading some basketball stuff in here, not that anything has been happening on that front the last two weeks or anything.
As Matt told you, there are some basketball prospects in attendance. John Groce and his team spent a few hours outside Soldier Field this afternoon signing autographs and meeting and greeting Illinois fans.
The players, coaches, their wives and kids made the trip up to Chicago last night and stayed downtown at the J.W. Marriott. They’ll watch the game here tonight and head back to C-U.
Ahmad Starks was with them. No, I don’t know his waiver status.
In addition to being here for tonight’s game, Aaron Jordan is expected to make an unofficial visit to the Illini campus tomorrow. He’s a big-time target in the 2015 class.
The band is on the field and Jim Cornelison is about to bless us with his awesome rendition of the National Anthem. He’s used to performing it in a packed house with the fans going bananas in the background. Not sure how it’s going to workout today. This place is not even half full yet.
Cornelison sang at the NASCAR Nationwide race today in Joilet.
The Illinois folks opened the windows of the press box so that we could hear Cornelison. I thanked them.
Loren is milling about the press box talking about Steve Stricker’s day up in Lake Forest with anyone who’s willing to listen to him. Tate’s fired up for the former Illini.
I’ll be back at the kickoff with a reset.
30 minutes until kickoff
Plenty of Illinois recruits will be on hand for today's game.
Both football and basketball.
For football, Class of 2014 commits like Mike Dudek from Neuqua Valley, Malik Turner from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East, Henry McGrew from Blue Valley (Kan.), Tito Odenigbo from Centerville (Ohio), Matt Domer from Chicago Mt. Carmel and Julian Hylton from Lincoln-Way North are expected to attend.
Some key recruiting targets for basketball in the Class of 2015 include Aaron Jordan from Plainfield East, D.J. Williams from Chicago Simeon and Class of 2017 point guard Nojel Eastern from Evanston.
Other key Illinois football targets that should be on hand include Class of 2014 linebacker Nile Sykes from Montini and Niles Notre Dame running back Chris James, among others.
And now the most-anticipated part of the in-game report until Marcus Jackson drops knowledge at kickoff and throughout the game.
Predictions from assembled media members. I wrote in Friday's News-Gazette that Washington will win 31-23. Sticking with that pick and score today.
Marcus Jackson, The News-Gazette: He went with Washington in Friday's section, but is changing his mind and going with Illinois today. He has the right to do that. And the new pick looks like this: Illinois 31, Washington 27
Jamal Collier, Springfield State Journal-Register: Washington 28, Illinois 17
Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Washington 38, Illinois 20
Vaughn McClure, Chicago Tribune: Washington
Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune: Illinois 28, Washington 27
Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times: Washington 42, Illinois 31
Taylor Rooks, Scout.com: Washington 41, Illinois 17
Fletcher Page, Scout.com: Washington 38, Illinois 28
Robert Rosenthal, Illiniboard.com: Washington 41, Illinois 24
Marcus Jackson will take control of the in-game report at kickoff and throughout the game.
60 minutes until kickoff
It is bright and sunny at Soldier Field. A few clouds settled in the last half hour at times, but regardless, it's perfect football weather, with game-time temps expected to be in the 60s.
Washington and some of its players came on the field shortly before 3:30 p.m., with a few Illinois players stretching in the north end zone. Illinois will use the Bears' visiting locker room while Washington will use the auxiliary locker room. The Bears will kick off against the Vikings in a little more than 16 hours on Sunday.
Illinois will come out of the tunnel in the north end zone, near Section 155, while Washington will come out of the tunnel near the south end zone by Section 120. The Illinois band is getting situated in Section 153 and 154.
Tough day for the Big Ten so far. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill left today's game against Western Illinois on a stretcher after suffering another seizure after halftime. It's his third one during his time at Minnesota and fifth overall during a game after he suffered two during his stint at Southern Illinois.
Then Michigan had to hold on and beat Akron 28-24, Mike Thomas' former school that has lost 21 of its last 22 games. And UCLA blew past Nebraska 41-21 after the Cornhuskers led 21-3 early. Folks in Lincoln won't be pleased — again — with Bo Pelini's defense. Illinois could take advantage of that in three weeks when Tim Beckman's team heads out to open Big Ten play there.
Those developments certainly had Loren Tate fired up on the drive up Interstate 57 from Champaign this afternoon. And pretty stunned at the Nebraska-UCLA outcome.
Dick Butkus is milling about on the sidelines. The former linebacker will help handle the opening coin toss and has been in the city since Thursday at various Illinois functions.
Illinois will go with its orange jerseys, white pants and orange helmets today for the third straight time. Tim Beckman is a big stickler of keeping the routine the same right now for a young team, so don't expect any different home uniform for Illinois while they're winning football games.
Washington will go with an all-white look today with white jerseys, white pants and white helmets.
Be back in a half hour.
90 minutes until kickoff
Here's our view from the Soldier Field press box. Pretty nice.
And here's the Chicago skyline in the background of Soldier Field.
Tim Beckman came up last night with his team, but he had some of his thoughts surely back in Urbana. His son, Alex, is the starting quarterback for Urbana High School, and had quite a prolific passing night, but Urbana lost 49-26 to Bloomington. Read about it here.
All TVs in the press box are glued to the Texas A&M-Alabama game. As well they should. It looks like this could be one of the top games of the college football season. Just wait for Johnny Manziel to pop off at some Alabama player. It's bound to happen. The guy has swagger, though, and is showing a repeat Heisman trophy is a possibility.
J Leman, along with Eric Collins, will have the call today on BTN. This is Leman's second Illinois game of the year, and he's expected to be on the sidelines for Illinois' next game at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 28 against Miami (Ohio). Click here to see what Leman, veteran Washington radio play-by-play announcer Bob Rondeau and Washington's beat writer with the Seattle Times, Adam Judge, think will transpire during today's game.
The pregame festivities are out in full force for Illinois outside Gate 14. Tailgating galore is going on in other parking lots. So are autographs. Plenty of opportunities for Illinois men's basketball fans to get an up-close view of John Groce's squad. Groce's team is out at Illini Fest signing autographs. Marcus Jackson checked it out and said the line was a mile long. Hurry up if you want to still get out there. They should be there until 3:45.
Former Illini Kenny Battle was also mingling in the crowd, but no Juice Williams sighting. The former Illinois quarterback is supposed to sign alongside the men's basketball team. He'll most likely show up. It's his hometown and he's at nearly every Illinois game down in Champaign.
Be back in a half hour.
Two hours until kickoff
Good afternoon college football fans.
Matt Daniels here with you up until kickoff at Soldier Field before Marcus Jackson, who has found himself plenty busy the past two weeks because of the recruiting efforts of John Groce, takes control of our in-game report.
Perfect weather for college football today. All the heat and humidity fans have had to sit through the first two weeks of the season at Memorial Stadium is gone. If you're planning on heading out to Soldier Field tonight, might want to bring a jacket. Temps are expected to be in the low 60s by the time the game ends.
Now that I'm done being your dad, here's some predictions from our panel of "experts" at The News-Gazette and WDWS. Click here to see who in our panel think Illinois will beat the Huskies and start off 3-0 for the first time in two years.
Illinois arrived in Chicago late last night after going through its normal walkthrough at Memorial Stadium and then having dinner at the Champaign Country Club. The team stayed at the Chicago Hilton off Michigan Avenue near Grant Park, the same place Nathan Scheelhaase, Corey Lewis and Tim Kynard, along with Tim Beckman, were at in late July for Big Ten Media Days.
Scheelhaase entered Saturday sixth in the country in passing yards with 728. He now has 6,024 passing yards for his career at Illinois, and it looks promising, based on the early returns in Bill Cubit's offense, that Scheelhaase should pass Tony Eason (7,031 yards) for fifth place on the list, could eclipse Jason Verduzco (7,532) for fourth on the list and could make a run at Juice Williams (8,037) for third on the list. Click here to find out more about Scheelhaase's solid start to the season and here to get Loren Tate's take on Cubit.
This is Illinois' first trip to Soldier Field since the Illini opened the 1994 season with a 10-9 loss to Washington State. Technically, it's the first trip for Illinois to the renovated Soldier Field, which now has a glass-covered spaceship on top of the playing field and was re-opened in 2003 after the Bears played the 2002 down in Champaign. Darrell Hoemann, the recently retired photo editor at The News-Gazette, and myself took a trip here in early June to get a look at the facility just off Lake Michigan. Click here to get a glimpse of some very cool photos from Hoemann.
We'll be back in a half hour. Until then, go check out Alabama at Texas A&M, which they're showing on a big screen outside Soldier Field as part of tailgating.