Scores

Final

Minnesota 27

(6-1, 2-1 Big Ten)

Illinois 20

(3-3, 1-2 Big Ten)

Coverage: ESPN

12:00 PM ET, October 11, 2008

Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL), Champaign, IL

1 2 3 4 T
MINN 7 0 7 1327
ILL 0 3 3 1420

Top Performers

Passing: J. Williams (ILL) - 462 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Eskridge (SJSU) - 26 CAR, 124 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: A. Benn (ILL) - 12 REC, 181 YDS

Defense key as Minnesota takes down Illinois

Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Minnesota hassled Juice Williams all day, sacking him five time and taking his fumble back for a decisive touchdown in the Golden Gophers' 27-20 upset Saturday.

After Minnesota's Willie VanDeSteeg brought down Williams at the Fighting Illini 9 late in the fourth quarter, Simoni Lawrence scooped up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown and a 27-13 lead for the Golden Gophers (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten).

Fast Facts

• A season after finishing 1-11, Minnesota is 6-1 and bowl-eligible with Saturday's win at Illinois.

• The Golden Gophers are 6-1 for the third time since 2002. Prior to that '02 season, their last 6-1 start was in 1967.

• Illinois entered the game averaging 210.8 yards on the ground, but Minnesota held the Illini to just 88.

-- ESPN research

Just a week after he put up 431 combined yards in a win over Michigan, Williams was 26-of-41 passing for 462 yards and two touchdowns. Illinois (3-3, 1-2) turned the ball over three times.

One second-quarter drive summed up the afternoon for Illinois.

With Minnesota up 7-0, Williams ran out of heavy pressure for a big first down to keep a drive alive.

But a few plays later, Williams was chased out of the pocket as wide receiver Jeff Cumberland ran open across the end zone, waving his arms to get his quarterback's attention.

Then an 8-yard sack forced the Illini to kick a field goal.

VanDeSteeg was Williams' biggest headache Saturday. The senior defensive end had three of the Gophers' sacks and five tackles.

DeLeon Eskridge rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns for Minnesota. His second touchdown, a 46-yarder early in the fourth quarter, gave the Gophers a 20-6 lead and forced the Illini to play from behind, neutralizing their running game.

Illinois entered the game averaging 210.8 yards on the ground, but Minnesota held the Illini to just 88.

Adam Weber completed 18 of 26 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.

He found receiver Eric Decker, who entered the game with a Big Ten-best 50 catches, five times in the first quarter. They included a 25-yard touchdown scored when Decker lunged to tuck the ball just inside the pylon on the game's opening drive.

Decker finished with nine catches for 86 yards.

Illinois sophomore receiver Arrelious Benn caught 12 balls for 181 yards, his career high for yardage and third-straight 100-yard game.

Illini freshman A.J. Jenkins caught three passes for 117 yards, two of them long, late touchdowns that kept the Illini in the game.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MINN
ILL
1st Downs1625
Total Yards312550
Passing196462
Rushing11688
Penalties6-595-46
3rd Down Conversions5-135-13
4th Down Conversions1-10-2
Turnovers13
Possession29:3230:28

Passing Leaders

MinnesotaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Weber18/261847.110
IllinoisC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Williams26/4146211.321

Rushing Leaders

MinnesotaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Eskridge261244.8246
Stoudermire Jr.111.001
IllinoisCARYDSAVGTDLG
Williams18412.3021
Dufrene10363.607

Receiving Leaders

MinnesotaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Decker9869.6125
Simmons4338.309
IllinoisRECYDSAVGTDLG
Benn1218115.1031
Jenkins311739.0254

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMINNILL
TD11:54Eric Decker 25 Yd Pass From Adam Weber (Joel Monroe Kick) 70
SECOND QUARTERMINNILL
FG03:00Matt Eller 33 Yd 73
THIRD QUARTERMINNILL
TD13:19Deleon Eskridge 1 Yd Run (Joel Monroe Kick) 143
FG09:09Matt Eller 28 Yd 146
FOURTH QUARTERMINNILL
TD11:11Deleon Eskridge 46 Yd Run (Pat Failed) 206
TD10:01A.J. Jenkins 54 Yd Pass From Juice Williams (Matt Eller Kick) 2013
TD05:24Simoni Lawrence 9 Yd Fumble Return (Joel Monroe Kick) 2713
TD04:47A.J. Jenkins 35 Yd Pass From Juice Williams (Matt Eller Kick) 2720