Illinois 50, Miami 14 — FINAL
CHAMPAIGN — Nathan Scheelhaase tied a career-high, throwing five touchdown passes — four of them to tight ends — in leading Illinois to an easy win Saturday in front of 46,890 at Memorial Stadium.
The fifth-year senior quarterback hit tight end Matt LaCosse with touchdown passes of 2 and 45 yards while fellow tight ends Evan Wilson (8 yards) and Jon Davis (4) also found the end zone. Running back Josh Ferguson (148 total yards) also caught a touchdown pass.
Scheelhaase, who threw five touchdown passes in the previous home game against Cincinnati on Sept. 7, completed 19 of 24 passes for 278 yards and an interception before leaving the game early in the third quarter with the Illini (3-1) leading 43-0.
Running back Donovonn Young added 80 yards on 11 carries.
Illinois outgained the Redhawks (0-4) 601-250. Illinois’ 394 yards in the first half were the third most first-half yards the Illini have ever gained in program history.
More later on HQ.
Illinois 43, Miami 7 — End of third quarter
Third-quarter star: Devin Church, Illinois
The redshirt freshman running back scored a 12-yard touchdown on the third carry of his career, for Illinois’ lone score of the half. He’s the third-stringer after Dami Ayoola’s departure from the program. He’s also worthy of being the goat, because a Reilly O’Toole pass hit him in the facemask and went for an interception.
Third-quarter goat: Terry Anderson, field judge
The official awarded Miami a touchdown on a pass that was clearly dropped in the back of the end zone. There is nothing you will ever do to convince me it was a catch. Even if it was the Bears and Brandon Marshall was the receiver, I’d be screaming that ball was dropped. It cost the Illinois defense a shutout.
What we’re thinking: I wonder if Jon Ekey will participate in the dunk contest tonight. I wonder if he’ll dance (Paris Parham says he has some serious moves). I hope Joseph Bertrand is in the dunk contest, too. I hope they actually have a dunk contest. Think Bruce Weber will stick around for the Street Jam?
Illinois 43, Miami 7 — 2:09 third quarter
There was drama, afterall. It was whether Illinois could keep the shutout in tact. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen, but only because of a very controversial call. Miami receiver Rokeem Williams caught a pass in the back of the end zone, had the ball for less than a second before it was knocked out by an Illinois defender. Anyone with two eyes knows that wasn’t a catch, but the officials gave it to the Redhawks, even after a review. The call was “confirmed” not “stands” which means they are convinced themselves that it was a legit touchdown. You will never convince me that it was, so in my eyes, Illinois still has a shutout. Who really cares what I think, though?
Expect to see Reilly O’Toole this time out. The backup quarterback was taking snaps on the sideline earlier. Let’s go ahead and run this clock down.
Illinois 43, Miami 0 — 7:26 third quarter
Redshirt freshman running back Devin Church rumbled 12 yards for the first score of the second half. It was the first touchdown run in the career of Church. It was just the third carry of his career.
There’s absolutely no drama remaining here. My guess is Nathan Scheelhaase’s day is done and we might see some extended reps for true freshman Aaron Bailey. What a day it was for Scheelhaase, who has completed 19 for 24 passes for 278 yards and five touchdowns. Maybe they want to score 50? Maybe they want Scheelhaase to tie the touchdown record? Maybe they want him to go over 300 yards? Not good enough reasons to risk injury in an absolute rout. Remember how well last season went when he played less than healthy? You do not want that again.
Illinois 36, Miami 0 — Halftime
Second-quarter star: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
I told you the quarterback would bounce back after a rocky start. He’s got a career-high five touchdown passes and you caould reasonably make the argument that he should have seven. He missed on a throw earlier that would have been a touchdown and he threaded the needle late in the half and hit Ryan Lankford between the 1 and 2 on his jersey, but the receiver couldn’t hold on in heavy traffic in the end zone. Scheelhaase finished the half 15 for 20 for 256 yards.
Second-quarter goat: Taylor Zalewski, Illinois
The kicker has been up and down this season. He’s currently down after missing a 27-yard field goal wide left late in the half. It hasn’t really mattered yet this season, but in a close Big Ten game, He’s going to have to be more reliable than that.
What we’re thinking: Yes, Miami is bad, real bad, like the student play-by-play guy told me earlier, but you still have to be encouraged as an Illinois fan with what you’ve seen from this team. If nothing else, this gives them a sense of confidence going into a very tough environment next week in the Big Ten opener at Nebraska.
Illinois 36, Miami 0 — 5:18 second quarter
Nathan Scheelhaase’s latest touchdown pass, a 45-yarder to Matt LaCosse, gives him five for the day and ties the career high he set the last time he played a game in this stadium. Of his five touchdown passes today, four have gone to tight ends. LaCosse has two, Jon Davis and Evan Wilson have one apiece.
I told you the fifth-year senior would bounce back from the missed TD pass earlier and the interception.
We’ve still got 35:18 left to play today. Something tells me he’s got alegitimate shot ant tying or even passing Dave Wilson’s school record of six TD passes.
Scheelhaase is 15 for 18 for 256 yards. As good as he’s been, he hasn’t even been the most impressive Illini today. That’s Josh Ferguson and the juking he’s been doing all over the field today.
Illinois 29, Miami 0 — 8:14 second quarter
Another Nathan Scheelhaase touchdown pass, this time to Jon Davis from 4 yards out and the rout is on. Scheelhaase has four touchdown passes today. He would have been a nice fantasy football play today.
Seriously, this is serving as a sort of coming-out party for Josh Ferguson. He’s done it all so far and he’s shown plenty of flair in doing so. And just when I handed the running back reigns over to him, Donovonn Young peeled off a few nice runs of his own. If they’re both going at the same time, it could be very beneficial for the Illinois offense.
Oh, and Steve Hull showed his athleticism once again, going above Miami defenders to haul in a pass over the middle. The former safety has made a nice transition.
Illinois 22, Miami 0 — 12:06 second quarter
Right on cue, Josh Ferguson does some Reggie Bush-at-USC kind of stuff. He caught a short swing pass, got by one defender, toyed with a couple of other defenders, split them and raced into the end zone. Another touchdown pass for Scheelhaase and this time the Illini settled for a one-point conversion with Taylor Zalewski drilling the PAT kick.
Before the Ferguson show, Steve Hull went high over a pair of Miami defender to haul in a 30-yard reception. Steve Hull, if you didn’t know, is a freak of an athlete.
Illinois 15, Miami 0 — 13:39 second quarter
That Evan Wilson touchdown catch might make “SportsCenter’s” top plays. A very athletic move by the big tight end to get a foot down in the back of the end zone.
Bill Cubit remains cute with the play calling, going for and converting the two-point conversion when Miami failed to cover the shift properly.
Nathan Scheelhaase just moved into fourth place all-time with his 43rd career touchdown pass.
Oh, by the way, Illinois just recovered an onside kick, so this thing is real close to getting out of hand.
Illinois 7, Miami 0 — End of first quarter
First-quarter star: Josh Ferguson, Illinois
The shifty running back is kind of quietly cementing himself as Illinois’ top running back, ahead of Donovonn Young. Ferguson has been effective out of the backfield as a receiver and he’s been solidin the run game, too. He’s kind of Reggie Bush-like in his skillset. He’s a perfect back in this offense. The Joliet catholic product finished the first quarter with 91 total yards (37 rushing, 54 receiving).
First-quarter goat: Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
He’s had a great season so far, but the senior quarterback struggled at times in the quarter. He missed a wide-open Evan Wilson for a touchdown and a few plays later he threw an interception that ended a very promising and entertaining drive. Something tells me he will get it together sooner rather than later.
What we’re thinking: Miami has to feel pretty good about where it is right now, Illinois should be up 14-0, but the Illini are 23 yards away from making this a two-touchdown game. Look for Bill Cubit to remain creative with his play calling to put this one away before the teams enter the halftime locker room.
Also, how cool is it to see Bruce Weber on the sideline? The former Illinois men’s basketball coach, who led Kansas State to a Big 12 title last season, is here for Dad’s Day with his daughter Emily, a senior UI cheerleader.
Illinois 7, Miami 0 — 4:51 first quarter
The Illini got real cute on that possession, lining up Aaron Bailey and Reilley O’Toole together in the backfield. Bailey peeled off a 14-yard run and on the next play, he threw a lateral to O’Toole, who then threw to Spencer Harris.
It was all wasted a few plays later when Nathan Scheelhaase was intercepted over the middle. A few plays before that, Scheelhaase missed a wide-open Evan Wilson for what would have been a touchdown.
Eric Finney made his first start today at the STAR position for the Illini. Mike Svetina had been starting in the hybrid linebacker/safety position in the previous three games.
Miami averages seven first down per game. The Redhawks are more than a quarter of the way there already with two so far.
Former Illini Jim Grabowski and former athletic director Ron Guenther were introduced during the timeout following Miami’s first possession. Pretty decent applause for Guenther. He and current AD Mike Thomas had a man hug during the deal.
Illinois 7, Miami 0 — 11:31 first quarter
Well, that didn’t take long. Thanks to a couple of passes to running back Josh Ferguson, capped off by a 2-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Scheelhaase to tight end Matt LaCosse, Illinois leads after 3 minutes and 29 seconds.
The Naperville natives (Ferguson, LaCosse) accounted for 66 of Illinois’ 80 yards on that drive.
The running lanes looked good. Ferguson got 25 on the ground and Donovonn Young got 9 yards on two carries.
Something tells me this won’t be the last touchdown for Illinois. Stay tuned.
Members of the 1953 and 1964 teams were introduced on the field after LaCosse’s touchdown. Loren Tate recognized a bunch of them.
I was wrong, Gene Honda isn’t here today. He must have recorded the starting lineups. That’s Mike Koon soothing your ears with the public-address calls today. The White Sox are at home today, so Honda is there helping bring to an end a disaster of a season.
Miami at Illinois — Kickoff
Illinois won the toss and elected to receive. Miami will defend the south goal. Bob Asmussen loves when the tema who wins the toss takes the ball. It just makes complete sense to him.
The Illinois captains today were Jon Davis, Jonathan Brown, Mike Svetina and Jake Feldmeyer. Svetina is the “Mike Hopkins” special teams captain this week, named after the former Illini and current astronaut who is somewhere in space doing his thing.
It’s currently 76 degrees, partly cloudy and the wind is out of the south at 15 mph.
The fathers of the Illinois players made a tunnel for the team to run through when they took the field a few minutes ago.
The Illini dads all wore their son’s orange jerseys with white ball caps.
It looks like the fathers of band members were also on the field with their kids prior to kickoff.
There might be 1,000 students here now. I’m bad at guestimating numbers, but it’s less than half full.
How about the turnout last night for the volleyball team at the State Farm Center? More than 7,000 for the sweep against Iowa. That’s some impressive stuff. Kevin Hambly’s squad hosts a big one this afternoon at Huff against Nebraska. Atmosphere there should be electric.
Not sure about the atmosphere here. Plenty of good seats are still available. I figured it would get better.
Remember, the stats are linked above. I’ll be back when cool stuff happens, and even the times in between.
Miami at Illinois — 15 minutes before kickoff
Good morning, Marcus Jackson here taking you all the way through what should be a fairly easy Illinois win today. I spoke with Miami student radio play-by-play man Tom Downey a little bit ago and asked him if the Redhawks are really as bad as people say.
“Yeah, they’re real bad,” Downey said.
So, that should give you some indication on how this one might play out today.
Some folks want Miami alum Don Treadwell fired after this season, which is his third in charge. It could happen.
Forgive me if you’re inundated with too many EIU updates today. The Panthers are hosting Eastern Kentucky today in Coles County. That’s a fun team to watch.
Also forgive me if you get too many basketball tidbits today, too. Practice started yesterday and Groce’s team is going through a pair of grueling sessions today ahead of tonight’s Illini Street Jam. That should be a fun event, I’m really looking forward to it. Fantastic idea by Jenny Larson and her marketing team.
Expected in attendance tonight are Illinois commits Michael Finke, Leron Black and Quentin Snider. Class of 2015 targets Aaron Simpson and D.J. Williams are also expected in attendance.
There might be 100 students in the Block I right now. Kind of disappointed in that showing. You’ve got a competitive squad playing a game it should win on a picture-perfect late-September day, you’ve got to come stronger than this.
Gene Honda just announced the Illini starting lineups. That poor guy has had to do White Sox games all summer. I haven’t been able to watch my favorite baseball team since May. Hopefully the future is brighter.
The good news for Honda is the hockey season starts Tuesday and he’ll be at the United Center for the Blackhawks’ banner0raising ceremony. The Stanley Cup champs are a favorite to repeat this season, too.
Happy birthday to our Bob Asmussen, who’s 52 today. Don’t feel bad for the guy for having to work on his birthday. He’s actually thrilled.
“I’m happy to not be dead,” he said.
Bob will be at Nebraska next week for the Big Ten opener at his alma mater.
30 minutes until kickoff
Counting his time at Toledo, Tim Beckman has won four straight games against MAC teams.
He'll try to make it five today.
In its last five games against MAC teams, Illinois is only 3-2,
with a 23-17 loss to Western Michigan at Ford Field in Detroit during the 2008 season and a 20-17 setback at Memorial Stadium against Ohio during the 2006 season.
Beckman knows the mind-set is simple for MAC programs going up against schools from power conferences.
“Be there in the fourth quarter,” he said. “That’s always what you try to get to.”
Now Beckman is on the other spectrum.
“If you don’t have your ‘A’ game going, regardless of who you play, Mid-American (teams) or anybody, your’re going to struggle,” Beckman said. “It’s up to us tackling better, up to us making plays and running the football better. Those are the important things. It’s not Miami. It’s what we do.”
The fathers of the Illinois players made their way down onto the sidelines around 10:15 a.m. They all have orange Illinois jerseys, wearing the number of their sons. Rough estimate has at least 40 dads out there, maybe more.
And now the best part of the live report. Here's some predictions from the esteemed media who have made their way into the Memorial Stadium press box so far. Like I said Monday night during The News-Gazette Sports Page radio show at the Esquire, Illinois will win by at least 30 points. I have Illinois winning 45-14.
Bob Asmussen, The News-Gazette: Illinois 33, Miami (Ohio) 0. His logic is the same score as Illinois put on Iowa and Chuck Long, calling the game for BTN, 30 years ago.
Marcus Jackson, The News-Gazette: After much calculations in determining the final score, our men's basketball beat writer goes with Illinois 37, Miami (Ohio) 13.
Jamal Collier, Gatehouse Media: Illinois 42, Miami (Ohio) 7
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times: Illinois 48, Miami (Ohio) 21
Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune: Illinois 41, Miami (Ohio) 17
Jeremy Werner, ESPN C-U: Illinois 41, Miami (Ohio) 10
Doug Buschon, Rivals.com: Illinois 35, Miami (Ohio) 14
Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Illinois 31, Miami (Ohio) 6
Enough of me for now. Marcus Jackson will take control of operations at kickoff and will continue throughout the game.
60 minutes until kickoff
Tim Beckman juggles his Friday nights by taking in Urbana High School games since his son, Alex, is the Tigers' starting quarterback.
Urbana lost 22-8 on Friday night at Centennial, which has Illinois recruiting target Jimmy Fitzgerald, a Class of 2015 quarterback. To find out more about that game, click here.
MIami (Ohio) out on the field stretching around 9:50 a.m. Looks like the RedHawks will wear red pants, white jersey tops and their new red chrome-like helmets.
Birthday shout-out to Bob Asmussen, who doesn't look a day past 30. It's good to have the veteran beat guy back for his commentary and witty insight today.
Brad Janitz and Tim Kynard are on the cover of the gameday program. This is probably Janitz's brief glimpse of notoriety, with Justin DuVernois having a solid hold on the punting position. He's coming off Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors after his stellar night punting the ball at Soldier Field.
Jonathan Brown enters today's game leading the Big Ten in tackles and ranks third nationally in tackles per game. If it isn't a rout, which it very well could be, Brown could have another double-digit tackle total.
Here's some more insight from Brown, who was our weekly Q&A guest.
And Kynard will see a familiar face when Miami (Ohio) has its defense out there. The RedHawks' leading tackler is Kent Kern, who went to the same high school in Toledo, St. John's, that Kynard played at.
Be back in another half hour.
90 minutes until kickoff
Illinois will sport a different look today, going with navy blue tops and navy blue matte helmets and white pants.
The Illinois specialists were first on the field, going through their routine at 9:05 a.m.
Illinois will honor members of its 1953 and 1963 teams that won Big Ten titles. Several members of both teams were on hand at Memorial Stadium on Friday evening and greeted the current team at the end of its walkthrough.
Chuck Long will call his first Illinois game of the season today on BTN. The former Iowa quarterback is busy calling games for BTN and living and working in Iowa now. He's been out of coaching for two seasons and seems to enjoy his new gig.
Had a chance to talk to him Thursday afternoon, and he had plenty of insight not only on today's game, but the 1983 game Iowa lost 33-0 to Illinois at Memorial Stadium. For more on that topic, along with the above ones, click here.
Loren Tate was only 9 years old the last time Illinois and Miami (Ohio) played. Illinois dominated that game in 1941, which saw the Illini win 45-0 in Champaign. The date of that game was on Oct. 4. And was the team's season opener. That win was only one of two in the final year of Bob Zuppke's tenure. The other win came against Drake.
Speaking of Drake, former Bulldog Rayvonte Rice and Illinois started practice for the 2013-14 season on Friday. See what I did there with that transition? Blame the lame jokes on the early start time again. As Bob Asmussen just pointed out, he could fall asleep righht now. To find out more about what John Groce had to say before the first official practice, click here.
Be back in another half hour.
Two hours until kickoff
Good morning college football fans. Matt Daniels here at the Memorial Stadium press box providing updates every half hour up until the 11 a.m. kickoff between Illinois and Miami (Ohio). Illinois will try to end a 10-game losing streak coming off bye weeks. The last time Illinois won off a bye week happened back in 2002. The streak should end today. The RedHawks, plain and simple, aren't very good. To read more about other keys to today's game, go here.
It's Dad's Weekend here at Illinois. Plenty of fathers milling about the parking lots surrounding Memorial Stadium early this morning.
The Illinois team arrived on the Memorial Stadium field around 8:45 a.m. They gathered at midfield for a quick word then headed into their locker room in the north end zone.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is the best home crowd of the season today. My early guess for paid attendance is 45,274. Just throwing out random numbers.
Speaking of random numbers, Nathan Scheelhaase threw for more yards in the first half against Southern Illinois than Miami (Ohio) quarterback Austin Boucher has the whole season. To get a look at the projected starters on both teams, click here.
The number of recruits on hand today won't dazzle you. And the one commit in the Class of 2014 expected to attend, center Nick Allegretti from Lincoln-Way East, likely won't be here. His team lost 24-21 at Homewood-Flossmoor last night, so he'll most likely have practice with the Griffins today. But Allegretti and a host of other commits were on hand two weeks ago against Washington. So far, no decommits in the Class of 2014, which wasn't true at this point last year with the Class of 2013. Wide receiver Miles Boykin of New Lenox Providence Catholic and quarterback Jack Beneventi of Benet Academy, two Class of 2015 targets, are the big names here for today's game. This is the second trip to both recruits for a game in Champaign this year, a good sign.
Speaking of recruits, we profiled the prized jewel in last year's class, quarterback Aaron Bailey, in today's paper. Click here to read more about the Bolingbrook product and what others say (he can't talk to the media because of a Tim Beckman policy) about his production so far.
Be back in a half hour with more updates.