Illinois stunned the college football world on Saturday, knocking off No. 6 Wisconsin 24-23 in a memorable afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Trailing 23-14 in the fourth quarter, the Illini rallied to cut it to 23-21 and after an interception by Tony Adams with less than three minutes left in the game, drove down to set up a game-winning field goal try by James McCourt.
The redshirt junior from Ireland drilled the 39-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Illini to its first win against a ranked foe since Illinois upset No. 1 Ohio State 24-23 in 2007 and delivering Lovie Smith his signature win in charge of the Illini.
Illini need to be nearly perfect to beat Badgers
Good morning everybody. Another Illinois football game at Memorial Stadium, another LIVE! Report with beat writer Scott Richey (as always, that's me) at the helm.
Current Illini boss Lovie Smith has plenty of respect for ex-Illinois coach Tepper
It's a beautiful fall morning in Champaign. Perfect football weather. Literally perfect. And that's the type of football Illinois is going to have to play today against undefeated No. 6 Wisconsin. The Illini are, at last check, 32-point underdogs. So the line has moved even since yesterday and not in Illinois' favor.
The biggest concern, of course, is the Wisconsin run game. It starts up front, of course. While the Badgers graduated three offensive linemen from 2018, the way their program is set up means able replacements are simply waiting in the wings. Illinois, in contrast, has its starting five and then serious questions marks down the depth chart.
Behind that Wisconsin offensive line? One of the best running backs in the country in Jonathan Taylor. Not exactly a great matchup for an Illinois defense that has allowed five 100-yard rushers in three Big Ten games this season. If Minnesota's Rodney Smith can go for 200-plus, what can Taylor do?
So coming out of this game as anything but 2-5 with five straight losses is a long shot. The rest of the schedule has some wins on it, but Illinois has yet to show in Big Ten play that it has what it takes — over the course of a full game — to make it happen.
Happy Homecoming, right?