Jim Rossow

Jim Rossow

Johnson leaves Illinois bench

   CHAMPAIGN  For the first time since Week 2, Kirk Johnson played quarterback for Illinois in Saturday''s 27-7 loss to No. 2 Penn State.

   He''ll return to the bench against Iowa.

Good news: At least Illini broke a sweat

Ron Turner won't have his regulars in pads today like he did the afternoon after Minnesota, tackling each other despite all their aches and pains. He won't have them jog to Sadorus and back or dig ditches around Memorial Stadium.

He can save his motivational tricks for another day, because the Illini tried Saturday. They huffed and puffed for all four quarters.

Rossow: Surprises keep fans guessing

nbsp;There isn't a putting green in the area with a trickier read than Illinois football. Just when we think we have Ron Turner's Illini figured out, they dupe us.

It's been that way since training camp, when Turner named Kurt Kittner as his starting quarterback even as billboards and beat writers advertised Kirk Johnson.

Rossow: Receiving only part of Willis story

He started his Illinois career with an unlikely catch. He ends it on an uncomfortable couch.

"It's the not way I planned it," Lenny Willis said.

Freshman in UI plans

CHAMPAIGN – The loss of Lisa Guarneri is Shavonna Hunter's gain.

The true freshman from Hillcrest High now is Illinois' backup point guard after Guarneri announced her intentions to transfer at the end of the semester.

Listless effort leaves Illinois at crossroads

Maybe they'll fool us.

Maybe they'll go to Michigan and keep it respectable, give the Wolverines a game in front of 110,000 fans. Maybe they'll make Joe Paterno keep the first string in through the third quarter – or prevent Kirk Ferentz from winning his first Big Ten game at Iowa.

Young a man on the move

   CHAMPAIGN  For at least five more games, Illinois quarterback Walter Young will be the one catching passes, not throwing them.

   After that, it''s anybody''s guess. The redshirt freshman''s conversion from quarterback to receiver looked serious during the third quarter Saturday against Minnesota.

Rossow: UI, Gophers have room to improve

Congratulations, Purdue. You're the big winner.

Not today. The Boilermakers probably will lose their third straight game with No. 5 Michigan State in town.

Halfway Home

They like to play defense all over Michigan, like their quarterbacks at Penn State and love Glen Mason in Minnesota.

Four teams are unbeaten, seven teams are ranked and one is team kicking itself after tying a school record for biggest blown lead.

UI''s Wakefield struck down

   BLOOMINGTON, Ind.  Fred Wakefield had a seat on the 50-yard line but couldn''t have been more uncomfortable.

   The Illinois defensive end spent the second half and overtime of Saturday''s 34-31 loss to Indiana perched on a table at midfield, sicker than he''s ever been.