The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois football travels to Kansas for first time in over 50 years

The Illini (1-0) showed last week that they have the grit and grind attitude that teams need to win tight games. However ugly the performance was, the hosts pulled out a win over the reigning Mid-American Conference champions Toledo Rockets on a last-second field goal.

On the road for a Friday evening game, the Illini will not be able to get away with the same mistakes, especially with the 1-0 Kansas Jayhawks possessing the ability to utilize their quarterback’s legs.

The starter for the Jayhawks’ week one win was Jason Bean, who started due to the lack of practice time for Jalon Daniels. However Daniels was reported to be the starter going forward. Both can run the ball effectively, which caused problems for the Illini defense against the Rockets.

Devin Neal ran for 94 yards last week for the Jayhawks in their 48-17 drubbing of the Missouri State Bears. Bean threw for 276 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, only failing to complete six pass attempts out of 28. Similar to Illinois, Kansas had an ugly first half but still entered the second half with a lead. From that point on, the Jayhawks dominated.

Illinois took a while to get going. Sophomore quarterback Luke Altmyer certainly proved his value on what seemed to be a prayer on fourth down on the pivotal game-winning drive. Senior wide receiver Casey Washington made a miraculous catch, and the Illini ran the clock down for senior kicker Caleb Griffin to win the game.

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Altmyer spoke about how the play went down, with a funny response as well. The Ole Miss transfer was asked what he saw on the fourth down throw.

“Not much,” Altmyer said.

Washington spoke about his emotions during the moment itself.

“In those moments, you kind of blackout,” Washington said. “I’ve had a couple of them in my career, my coach told me to ‘Go win the game,’ and I just wanted to be that guy for my teammates.”

On the other side of the ball, Illinois defense had its fair share of struggles, especially up front, which will be unwelcome against a Kansas team that can pound the rock. The Jayhawks ran for 245 yards total in their week one victory, and the Illini gave up 186 yards on the ground.

The Illini accumulated 374 yards of offense while the Jayhawks allowed just 217 yards. For the Illini, it will be crucial for junior defensive linemen Keith Randolph Jr. and Jer’Zhan Newton to be key factors in the game, and the secondary will also need to be at its best. Sophomore defensive back Miles Scott had one of the biggest moments of the game last week with a pick-six to get the Illini back in the contest.

The former wideout Scott will certainly look to provide more moments like that against a Jayhawks squad that threw only eight interceptions last season and had a top-25 scoring offense in the nation. Lance Leipold’s Jayhawks, like Bret Bielema’s Illini, experienced a nice rebirth last season and both teams are looking to build off of it.

Bielema spoke about the quick turnaround at his post-game presser since the Illini will have to travel on Thursday.

“We have a quick turnaround, so we’ll put this one to bed tomorrow,” Bielema said. “We will jump into our Kansas prep. We’ve already gotten a lot of Kansas prep in that we have to do, but it’s just a short turnaround physically.”

The Illini will travel to Lawrence on Thursday before kicking off on Friday at 6:30 p.m., the first matchup between the programs in over 50 years.



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About the Contributor
Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
Hello! I’m Adam and I’m a senior majoring in journalism. I’m one of the assistant sports editors, and this is my second year with The DI. I love to talk about sports, so if you have any questions or desire to talk about a random athlete from 10 years ago or why Messi > Ronaldo, contact me at my email below!
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