LIVE! From Purdue (w/video)
Illinois 20, Purdue 16, FINAL
Taylor Zalewski made a pair of fourth-quarter field goals, and V'Angelo Bentley sealed Illinois' victory with an interception on fourth down as the Boilermakers were driving in the final minutes.
The win ends Illinois' 20-game BIg Ten losing streak.
Here are Matt Daniels' postgame thoughts: http://www.news-gazette.com/video/2013-11-23/illinois-20-purdue-16.html
Illinois 20, Purdue 14, 7:08 left in fourth quarter
Taylor Zalewski made his second field goal of the game, a 23-yarder, to extend Illinois' lead.
A potential touchdown by Martize Barr was denied after he was ruled for illegal touching.
Miles Osei showed off his hands with an impressive catch to keep the drive alive. Nathan Scheelhaase is inching closer to 3,000 passing yards this season. And nearly caught a touchdown pass from Steve Hull. And Illinois has a six-point lead. In the fourth quarter. Against a Big Ten team. Seriously.
Illinois 17, Purdue 14, 12:28 left in fourth quarter
Taylor Zalewski made a 32-yard field goal to give Illinois its first lead of the day. Nathan Scheelhaase continues to find Steve Hull as the senior wide receiver had a 42-yard catch to help set up that score.
Hull now has 10 catches for 169 yards. Impressive stats for a former safety. Illinois hasn't allowed a point since the first quarter. We'll see if the trend continues.
Illinois 14, Purdue 14, End of third quarter
Third quarter hero: Is there one? We'll go with Steve Hull again. Wide receiver has topped 100 receiving yards for the third straight game.
Third quarter goat: Too many to list. Cody Webster. Nathan Scheelhaase. Paul Griggs. Just a few. If anyone's still paying attention. Purdue had an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown called back. Because of a block in the back. It's like neither Purdue or Illinois want to win this game.
Third quarter thoughts: The blitz worked this time for Purdue. Nathan Scheelhaase lobbed a pass toward the end zone that Ricardo Allen picked off for his 11th career interception to stymie a potential touchdown drive for Illinois. Then Purdue made blunders of its own with a failed attempt of a fake field goal. The snow that appeared briefly at halftime sputtered away. Much like TV viewers probably. If you're not an Illinois or Purdue fan, chances are you're not watching this football game between two bad, bad teams. Maybe we could skip the fourth quarter, conduct a coin flip and get out of here. Wishful thinking.
Illinois 14, Purdue 14, Halftime
Second quarter hero: Steve Hull. The fifth-year senior is well on his way to a possible third straight game with at least 100 receiving yards. Props to Nathan Scheelhaase's 30-yard touchdown pass to Hull. Into the wind. A very strong wind.
Second quarter goat: Spencer Harris. The first catch the Arkansas native has today, and Purdue rips the ball out of his hands. And recovers the fumble. But a 35-yard field goal attempt by Paul Griggs hooks left, allowing Illinois to go into halftime tied.
Second quarter thoughts: That wind is brisk. It looks really cold out there. I'm glad I'm in the press box. How did Scheelhaase throw it 30 yards without it hanging up there too long? Why wasn't Hull playing wideout all four years at Illinois? If he was, would he even be here or in the NFL? I bet all the people here could fit inside nearby Mackey Arena, and there'd still be unfilled seats.
Illinois 14, Purdue 14, 14:54 left in second quarter
Purdue brought the house. But Illinois handled it well.
Nathan Scheelhaase connected with Steve Hull for a 30-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter.
A few impressive Josh Ferguson runs on the drive and a bad Purdue punt to give Illinois good field position helped the former roommates click for their second touchdown today.
Purdue 14, Illinois 7, End of first quarter
First quarter hero: Akeem Hunt. The Purdue running back can add his name to the list of running backs who have burned Illinois this season. Like Ameer Abdullah. Bishop Sankey. Tevin Coleman. Melvin Gordon. Carlos Hyde. Stephen Houston. The list is long. And growing.
First quarter goat: Illinois defense. All parts of Tim Banks' unit have shown little progress against a woeful Purdue offense that suddenly looks like Joe Tiller is once again calling plays for the Boilermakers.
First quarter thoughts: That first screen play by Purdue was woeful, but Danny Etling had plenty of time to complete his first pass two plays later. And then Akeem Hunt picked apart Illinois' defense (words we've said all season. Just insert a different running back). Jon Davis proved why he was a recruiting steal with his leaping 29-yard catch that set up Illinois' first touchdown. Nathan Scheelhaase now has thrown for more touchdowns than any season he's had. He'll be our guest Monday night at the Esquire in downtown Champaign for The News-Gazette Sports Page radio show. Come join us. Show starts at 5 p.m.
Purdue 14, Illinois 7, 3:19 left in first quarter
Purdue methodically marched down the field. Maybe Drew Brees being here today is rubbing off on Danny Etling. The true freshman has looked rather impressive today.
Then again, he is going against the Illinois defense. Brandon Cottom, all 6 feet 2, 256 pounds of him, picked up 24 yards on a run off right tackle to set up the second Purdue touchdown. Once again, Illinois' defense can't stop anyone.
Illinois 7, Purdue 7, 10:21 left in first quarter
Jon Davis might be an acrobat. The tight end got his right foot down on a 29-yard completion to set up Illinois at Purdue's 3-yard line.
Then Nathan Scheelhaase hit Steve Hull on a 3-yard touchdown pass. to knot the score back up. Now, we'll see if Illinois' defense can stop anybody.
Purdue 7, Illinois 0. 13:35 left in first quarter
Akeem Hunt broke off a 62-yard touchdown run on the game's fourth play, Purdue's longest run from scrimmage this season, and Illinois already trails.
Maybe Hunt will win the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week again.
Much like Carlos Hyde and Tevin Coleman did the last two weeks after facing Illinois' defense. Illinois offered up little resistance on Hunt's run down the left sideline. Not a good omen.
Purdue held its senior day festivities about 10 minutes before kickoff. The Boilermakers play at Indiana next Saturday to end the season.
A few Illinois products were recognized, including defensive tackle Bruce Gaston (St. Rita). Gaston was a 2009 News-Gazette All-State selection. Make sure to check out our 78th annual All-State team, which comes out on Thanksgiving.
Well, to the few brave fans who have filtered into Ross-Ade Stadium, kudos to you. You'll see plenty of empty seats in the stands on TV even if the TV cameras try to avoid panning the stands. It's unavoidable.
Bob Asmussen was dropping some gems pregame.
Like, "They should name this Tiller Field."
And this, "Some energetic senior day festivities here."
And finally, "Those breadsticks we just ate could be used as weapons."
Maybe we'll have to replace #TateTales with #BobTales in the future. Feedback appreciated.
30 minutes until kickoff
Safe to say there might be more people here in the press box right now than in the stands at Ross-Ade Stadium.
Two woeful teams doesn't help. Neither does the biting cold. You'll see a lot of red faces from coaches on both sidelines today. Don't envy the TV guys working the sidelines today.
Saw Matt Loveless from WAND (programming plug. Go switch on WAND and see me, Matt and Steve Kelly discuss today's game and other Big Ten games) and he said he has about seven layers on. Don't blame him one bit. It felt brutal walking up to the press box around 8 a.m.
Be on the lookout for Drew Brees today. The Purdue great is in town and should be at the game. He was here this morning for a captains' breakfast. If only Darrell Hazell could use him, he might not be dealing with a 1-9 season.
Most of the media members that cover Illinois have assembled in West Lafayette. And here are their predictions for today's game. I went with Illinois 41, Purdue 32 in Friday's News-Gazette and am not switching that bold prediction.
Bob Asmussen has Illinois 22, Purdue 16. His logic? It's the reverse score of the 1994 game mentioned earlier in our report. See, people, that's how much thinking we media types do in predicting games.
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times: Illinois 34, Purdue 20
Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune: Illinois 41, Purdue 31
Mark Tupper, Decatur Herald & Review: Illinois 33, Purdue 17
Jeremy Werner, ESPN C-U: Illinois 31, Purdue 21
Fletcher Page, Scout.com: Illinois 42, Purdue 28
Steve Bourbon, Daily Illini: Illinois 21, Purdue 16
Matt Loveless, WAND: Illinois 35, Purdue 14
There you have it. A consensus Illinois win. Which means ... who knows. The Purdue band — and its drum — has made its way into the field, which will help with the crowd. A little bit.
Be back at kickoff.
60 minutes until kickoff
A handful of Illinois commits and recruiting targets are in action today with their respective high school teams, helping their squads make a deep postseason run.
One, linebacker Henry McGrew from Blue Valley High School in Kansas, helped the Tigers clinch a spot in the Class 5A state title game next Saturday.
Blue Valley beat Blue Valley West 38-33 last night to advance to the championship game at Emporia Stadium.
Chicago Mt. Carmel running back Matt Domer and his Caravan will play at Edwardsville at 3 p.m. today in a Class 7A state semifinal game.
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin wide receiver Malik Turner and his Cyclones will host Washington High School at 1 p.m. today in a Class 5A state semifinal game.
That game is set to be broadcast statewide.
Thoughts go out to everyone in Washington affected by last Sunday's deadly tornado.
Tim Beckman said he spoke with Washington coach Darrell Crouch earlier this week and offered up the UI facilities if they need them at all.
"We're going to try to do something for the game against Northwestern for them and the (Washington) team," Beckman said. "We'll try to do something special. Whatever the NCAA allows us to do. You could tell that they had been through a lot. What a great opportunity for the team, but they just had a disaster in their town."
Beckman had high praise for Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin coach Ken Leonard and what the school is doing in busing Washington fans to the game and feeding the players.
"Ken Leonard is a special guy," Beckman said. "That's neat what they're doing."
Closer to Champaign-Urbana, the town hit hardest by last Sunday's freak weather is Gifford. The small town east of Rantoul lost around 40 homes and people are having to rebuild their lives. We'll have a special 16-page section in tomorrow's News-Gazette. Make sure to pick up a copy, or 12. Click here to get a sneak peek at what the front page will look like.
Beckman's secretary, Nicole Anderson, lives in Gifford. Her home was spared any damage, but that didn't mean she had a particularly stress-free week. She has lived there for a decade and knows many friends and families that lost everything. Click here to read her story.
Most vivid memory for Bob Asmussen in the Illinois-Purdue series is Ken Dilger getting dragged down by, what he says was a 150-pound defender, during the 1994 season.
A 22-16 loss to the Boilermakers ensued on the same day our new executive editor, Jim Rossow, got married. Bob covered the game in Champaign and then drove to the wedding in Indiana. Dedication.
No weddings to drive to after today's game. Only beef and rolls await The News-Gazette travel party.
Second reference to our postgame plans made here on the LIVE! report. I'll tone it down the rest of the day. Unless the game becomes a blowout or just completely unbearable to watch.
Be back in a half hour.
90 minutes until kickoff
Many are calling this the battle for the basement in the Big Ten. Can't disagree. One thing that will be settled by the time the sun sets in West Lafayette today is one of the two teams playing today will have their first Big Ten win of the season. The same fact holds true for their head coaches.
The Big Ten doesn't have the marquee game of the game in the country today. Frankly, it hasn't since Northwestern hosted Ohio State. My, how the Wildcats have fallen since the first weekend in October. Not exactly the season Pat Fitzgerald and his team envisioned.
The Wildcats — who visit Champaign-Urbana next weekend for the Land of Lincoln trophy (our own Bob Asmussen prefers the name switch from the old Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy) are still bowl-eligible, although it appears those hopes will fade.
Mark Dantonio's Michigan State defense visits Evanston today. Want to find out more about the other four Big Ten games played throughout the conference today? Click here.
Since the drive to Purdue is uneventful, the mind can wander at times. Here is what popped up as I was meandering along Route 25. Will Tim Beckman wear a stocking hat today and ditch his preferred visor?
I understand no one else cares, and the most pressing question surrounding Beckman is his job status. Doubt Mike Thomas will pull the trigger and bring in another head coach, even if Illinois finishes 3-9.
I asked him Wednesday after practice ended if he feels this is a must-win game for him. Here's what he had to say:
"It's not a must-win, but it's something that the program needs," he said. "It's something that they deserve because I do think that we've made tremendous strides. We're a totally different team than we were last year. We just have to continue to strive to get better and get that opportunity to have that first conference win."
Beckman doesn't mind the colder weather his team will play in today. Teko Powell, the promising sophomore defensive tackle from Miami, said the coldest game he ever played in during high school had the temperatures in the 50s. About 20 degrees warmer than what he'll deal with today.
"Might have to put another pair of long underwear on," Beckman said with a laugh. "I always kid since I was a coordinator and spent about 22 years up in the press box, and now, as a head coach for five years, spending all that time on the sidelines now, so I've got to weather some of these storms."
Be back in a half hour.
Two hours until kickoff
Good morning college football fans. Matt Daniels looking out live at Ross-Ade Stadium on a cold, cold morning. But it is sunny out. Trying to find the bright side (literally). The shades are pulled so far in the press box, so I can actually see what I'm typing a few hours before an 11 a.m. kickoff.
Illinois hasn't taken the Purdue Cannon back home to Champaign-Urbana since 2001. Today is probably the best chance they've had in quite some time. Purdue is really, really bad. Illinois' defense is really, really bad, but the offense Bill Cubit has had on display for the season is a positive for a struggling program. The Big Ten losing streak is up to 20 games for Illinois, or 18 shy of tying Northwestern for the worst in Big Ten history. Never good company to keep.
Illinois made the short bus ride to West Lafayette yesterday afternoon. The four buses the team took pulled away from Memorial Stadium around 12:30 p.m., but made a short stop at the Beef House in Covington, Ind., before hitting the back roads of Route 25 and arriving for a brief walkthrough at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The News-Gazette travel party is planning a stop there after the game today. Highly recommend it.
Had a chance to sit down with Earnest Thomas this week, the strong safety for Illinois who is second on the team with 86 tackles and has a team-high three fumbles. Much is made about Nathan Scheelhaase's ability to handle the fourth estate. So should how Thomas communicates. Ask him a question and you're bound to get a two-minute answer. Always a good thing. Click here to find out more about Thomas' upbringing in Detroit and other items.
Be back in a half hour.