LIVE! Indiana

LIVE! Indiana

Indiana 24, Illinois 14. FINAL

The losing streak is now at eight games for the Illinois football program.

The Illini (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten) never led against Indiana on Saturday at Memorial Stadium, but Lovie Smith's Illini managed to pull within three, 17-14, early in the fourth quarter.

That was the last gasp, though, for an injury-riddled team that is still without a Big Ten win this season.

Indiana, meanwhile (4-6, 1-6) kept its faint bowl hopes intact with its first conference victory of the season.

Jeff George Jr. finished 13 of 26 for 261 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Kendrick Foster rushed for 83 yards on 22 carries, the only Illinois running back to carry the ball.

Louis Dorsey finished with 107 receiving yards on three receptions, highlighted by a 77-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the third quarter that trimmed Indiana's lead to 14-7.

It doesn't get any easier for Illinois, with the Illini traveling to play at Ohio State next Saturday. The 11th-ranked Buckeyes (8-2) picked up a convincing 48-3 home win against No. 13 Michigan State today.

Indiana 17, Illinois 14 — 12:59 left in 4th quarter

Illinois is so depleted at wide receiver (no Mikey Dudek or Malik Turner today) that backup tight end Caleb Reams has been lining up out wide. Suppose it has to be considered a success after Reams pulled in a pass in the flat and managed to keep his feet as he stumbled into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown.

And just like that, Illinois is within a field goal of the Hoosiers. Even though the Illini are averaging a robust 0.9 yards per rush so far today.

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Indiana 17, Illinois 7 — 5:13 left in 3rd quarter

While Jeff George Jr. continues to get sacked for Illinois, Indiana just added to its lead with a 28-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes. The tally for the Illini offense (now back on the field): 10 drives, nine punts.

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Indiana 14, Illinois 7 — 14:42 left in 3rd quarter

After seven drives and seven punts in the first half, Illinois is now one drive (one play), one touchdown in the second half. Jeff George Jr. went deep on the Illini's first play after halftime, and a 77-yard touchdown for Louis Dorsey was the result.

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Indiana 14, Illinois 0 — Halftime

I waited the extra 48 seconds to update with Indiana's second touchdown (a 4-yard pass from Richard Lagow to Ian Harris) to see if the Illini could do anything given one more possession in the first half. They didn't.

The final tally for Illinois in the first two quarters: Seven drives, seven punts. That included five three-and-outs for the Illini, too. Not ideal.

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Indiana 7, Illinois 0 — 6:30 left in 2nd quarter

The Hoosiers get on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Morgan Ellison. Is that enough? Today, maybe so.

Illinois still has just 31 yards of total offense. So, that's 3 fewer yards than they had at the end of the first quarter. Not ideal.

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Illinois 0, Indiana 0 — End of 1st quarter

I mean, what can you say? Indiana is averaging 0.3 yards per rush through one quarter of play, yet the Hoosiers still have more yards of total offense (96-34) than the Illini.

Really, that's all I want to say. First team to score wins.

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Illinois vs. Indiana — 11 a.m., BTN

So what will today's matchup be? Let's go right to the source. Here's Lovie Smith with a breakdown of the Hoosiers ...

"Talking offensively, they spread it out an awful lot, throw the ball," Smith said. "The last month or so, we've played teams that are more running teams that can pass. Indiana is more of a passing team that will run. They'll spread it out; throw it around quite a bit. But, they also have a pretty good running attack.

"They've lost a lot of close games, so it'll be a challenge. On the other side of the ball, they're active, rely on taking the ball away and playing hard. That's the type of team we'll see coming in here. Two teams that are desperately needing a win."  

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Illinois vs. Indiana — 11 a.m., BTN

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Illinois vs. Indiana — 11 a.m., BTN

Kendrick Foster and Cam Thomas were Illinois' run game last weekend at Purdue. Literally. Nobody else got a carry against the Boilermakers. OK, Jeff George Jr. had three "rushes" but two of those were sacks. 

Foster rushed 17 times for 73 yards, and Thomas had 14 rushes for 30 yards — a number that would have been higher had he not been sacked three times for 28 yards worth of lost yardage.

Today's run game? It might just be Foster. Thomas won't play (unless Lovie Smith's declaration at Friday's Illinois Quarterbacks Club meeting was a ruse). With Mike Epstein out for the season and Ra'Von Bonner and Reggie Corbin also injured (maybe they play?) the carries will go to Foster. Which is sort of ironic considering he went from No. 1 running back in Week 1 to an immediate afterthought in the run game.

That unexpected demotion, though, was one Foster handled remarkably well.

"Kendrick Foster is a team player," Illinois coach Lovie Smith said. "Everything you're looking for as a coach, what you want to see in a player, I think he has. He worked extremely hard in the offseason, has done everything we've asked of him. As a football player your role will change. When you have more than one player at a position, roles can change at any time. The true team players, whatever that role is, embrace it.
"That's what we've seen from him. We saw that in week one, and throughout the tough time when he wanted more time we saw it. If you just hang in there, eventually get the chance to do what you want to do, and that's playing running back right now. He did some good things this past week, and he'll get more opportunities this weekend."

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Illinois vs. Indiana — 11 a.m., BTN

So ... seven straight losses. Things have not clearly not gone well for Illinois this season. For a young team, it can be crippling when those players don't experience any positive results — at least on the scoreboard. Illini coach Lovie Smith said his young team has been resilient throughout the losing streak.

"First off, the reality is it's no fun losing," Smith said. "How you respond to it? It should hurt. It should feel bad when you lose, and you work for ways to correct it. We're getting a lot of practice at this, but when you're a young football player, and you haven't been in this situation, they're resilient.

"They've been bouncing back fairly quick. These guys are excited about going to practice and having a chance to improve on things. When you're young I think that's the way that you respond. And, as a coaching staff, you have to keep to moving them in that direction. We had lost quite a few games before this last one and the guys still showed up and were plugging away but just couldn't finish. We're seeing the same type of fight in them."

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It's going to be a constant stream of LIVE! Reports here at IlliniHQ.com this weekend. Less than 12 hours after Brad Underwood won his debut as Illinois men's basketball coach, we're up and running again across the street at Memorial Stadium with Lovie Smith's Illini set to face Indiana.

Kickoff is at 11 a.m. — just 90 minutes from now. The tying thread between the Illini and Hoosiers? Neither team has won a Big Ten game this season. Today's showdown will be Illinois' fourth in that specific scenario. Obviously, the Illini came out on the short end of the stick the previous three times.

So will that change against the Hoosiers? It's been a fairly successful weekend already for Illinois. Cross country star Jon Davis (of Oakwood HS fame) won the NCAA Midwest Regional yesterday. Both Illini basketball teams posted victories, too, with women's coach Nancy Fahey getting her first win at Illinois. The only stumble thus far was Chris Tamas' volleyball team losing in straight sets to No. 8 Michigan State.

This is a winnable game for Illinois. In theory at least. Indiana has had its own struggles this month. The Illini, though, have a few things going against them. More on that later.

Until then, time to catch up on what you might have missed from our Illinois football coverage this week here at IlliniHQ.com:

Lineups: Illini vs. Hoosiers

Q&A with senior lineman Christian DiLauro

Illini and Hoosiers both have a Chicago Al Raby standout on the roster

George back in the QB saddle for Illinois

Post-practice video with Bennett Williams and James Crawford

Post-practice video with Dom Thieman

Illinois trying to end weak finishes

Tate: Illini going through growing pains

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Moonpie wrote on November 11, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Ah, the hapless Illini, coached by Aw Shucks Lovie Dovie. Can they pull it out against the Hoosiers? I wouldn't bet on it. We'll see.