‘Juice’ wins award from conference

 

 

By Jason Grodsky

Illini quarterback Juice Williams was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance in Illinois’ upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State.

The sophomore signal-caller threw a career-high four touchdown passes and rushed for 70 yards to lead the Illini to their first victory against a No. 1 team since 1956. Illinois handed top-ranked Ohio State its first loss of the season.

Williams averaged 4.4 yards per run on 16 carries and was 12-of-22 passing for 140 yards, completing passes to eight different Illini, including four strikes to four different wideouts for touchdowns.

The award is the first of Williams’ career and fifth Big Ten Weekly award for an Illini player this season.

“My name happens to be on the award this week, but that is dedicated to the entire offense,” Williams said. “The linemen did a great job up front, the running backs did a great job running the ball, and the wide receivers did a great job of getting open.”

Williams’ biggest moments in the game came on Illinois’ final drive.

On a fourth-and-inches play from the Illini’s own 33-yard line with less than seven minutes remaining, the Chicago native sneaked past the Ohio State defensive line to pick up the first down.

He then kept the Illini drive alive by converting three third-down attempts with two 12-yard rushes and one for three yards to run out the clock and give Illinois its only victory against a No. 1-ranked opponent on the road.

The fourth-down conversion by Williams with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter that helped seal the 28-21 victory earned him a nomination for this week’s Pontiac Game Changing Performance.

Fans can vote at pontiac.com/ncaa to determine if Williams’ run will earn the “Pontiac Game Changing Performance” for week 11 of the NCAA season. If the Illini get enough votes, the school will earn a $5,000 contribution from Pontiac to its general scholarship fund and the play will be nominated for the “Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Year” with the chance to win a $100,000 General Scholarship from Pontiac.

“It feels good to know I was able to lead my team over the No. 1 team in the land and do it efficiently,” Williams said. “This is something I can keep with me for the rest of my life. It gives me so much confidence going into next week, we just have to take the same approach this week and stay focused.”