Josh Imatorbhebhe

Carlos Osorio/AP

Illinois wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe (9) catches a pass as Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson (3) and cornerback Shakur Brown (29) defend during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, in East Lansing, Mich.

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Two Illinois football players who were vital to the Illini pulling off a stunning 37-34 win at Michigan State on Saturday were recognized on Monday by the Big Ten.

Receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe was named the league's co-offensive player of the week with Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan and safety Sydney Brown earned the conference's co-defensive player of the week accolade with Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield, Jr., after Imatorbhebhe and Brown had strong performances during the Illini's sixth win on Saturday that clinched a bowl berth for the first time in Lovie Smith's four seasons as the Illinois coach.

Imatorbhebhe, a Southern Cal transfer, caught four passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns. His nine touchdowns on the season are one away from the program's single-season mark of 10 receiving touchdowns currently held by former Illini greats Brandon Lloyd and David Williams.

Imatorbhebhe hauled in a 37-yard catch on fourth-and-17 during the Illini's eventual game-winning drive on Saturday that ended with quarterback Brandon Peters hitting Daniel Barker on a 5-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left in the game.

Brown compiled 13 tackles and two interceptions in the win, including a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown that trimmed the Illini's deficit to 31-30 with less than five minutes to play.

The win by Illinois on Saturday marked the biggest comeback in school history, with Illinois trailing 28-3 in the first half and 31-10 to start the fourth quarter.

The Illini (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) are off this upcoming Saturday and play again on Nov. 23 at No. 23 Iowa (6-3, 3-3).

Matt Daniels is sports editor at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@mdaniels_NG).