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Memorable Illini Games at the Big House

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Harvey Michigan Dive.jpgWith the Illini heading to Ann Arbor this Saturday to face Michigan (3:30 pm ET, ABC/ESPN), I thought it would be a good time to look back at some recent memorable games at the Big House. In the last 20 years, the Illini are a respectable 3-4-1 against the Maize and Blue at Michigan Stadium, and half of those games have been instant classics. Whether it was a last-second touchdown, a miracle comeback, a record-breaking performance or the highest-scoring game in Big Ten history, incredible things have happened when the Illini and Wolverines clash in Ann Arbor.

ILLINOIS 45, Michigan 20  //  Oct. 4, 2008
Quarterback Juice Williams threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 121 yards and two scores, leading Illinois to a 45-20 win over the Wolverines in 2008. Williams' 431 yards of total offense were a Michigan Stadium record at the time. He connected with Jeff Cumberland for a 77-yard pass, the longest by an Illini quarterback since 1985, while Arrelious Benn had six catches for 122 yards. The Illini set a school record for points against Michigan, surpassing the 39 points Red Grange helped them score in 1924 as Memorial Stadium was dedicated, a mark that would be shattered two years later (see 2010 recap below).


ILLINOIS 35, #9 Michigan 29  //  Oct. 23, 1999

The Illini overcame a 27-7 deficit to leave Ann Arbor with a thrilling 35-29 win against ninth-ranked Michigan in 1993. Down 20 with 6:01 to play in the third quarter, the Illini started the comeback with a 31-yard TD pass from Kurt Kittner to Walter Young. Then a three-yard TD pass from Kittner to Brian Hodges brought the score to 27-21 with 6:25 left in the game. Illinois got the ball back with four minutes to play and on 3rd-and-4 from the Illini 41, Kittner found Harvey on a short route over the middle. Harvey cut right and broke free for 59 yards and a now-famous dive into the end zone to give the Illini a one-point lead, 28-27. Harvey would add another long TD run of 59 yards in the final minute and the Illini defense held off the Tom Brady-led Wolverines for the 35-29 win.

 

 

ILLINOIS 24, #13 Michigan 21  //  Oct. 23, 1993
The Fighting Illini scored on a fourth-down, 15-yard pass play from quarterback Johnny Johnson to Jim Klein with 34 seconds remaining to upset the Wolverines, 24-21, before a homecoming crowd of 106,385 in the
Big House. Michigan had a chance to ice the game in the final minutes, but Illinois linebackers Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice combined to forced a Michigan fumble with just 1:13 left that set-up Johnson's heroics 39 seconds later. On the day, Johnson threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Michigan 67, ILLINOIS 65 (3OT)  //  Nov. 6, 2010
Even though the result was a loss for the Illini, who can forget the incredible game the Illini and Wolverines played in 2010? The two teams combined for 132 points with Michigan pulling out a 67-65 double-overtime win and 1,237 yards of total offense, both Big Ten records. Illinois' 65 points are the most any team has ever scored against Michigan. Illinois forced five turnovers and running back Mikel Leshoure had 172 total yards and scored five total touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was sacked on Illinois' tying two-point try in the third overtime, giving the Wolverines a victory in a game many called college football's "Game of the Year" in 2010.

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