Rose Bowl: No. 6 Southern California 49, No. 13 Illinois 17
Jan. 1, 2008
Illinois broke the school record for total offense with its 445 yards today, giving the Fighting Illini 5,525 yards of total offense for the season and surpassing the previous mark of 5,356 yards gained by the 2002 squad.
Rashard Mendenhall's 79-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was his longest rush of the season, surpassing the 64-yarder he reeled off at Minnesota on Nov. 3. It is the second-longest Illini rush of the year, behind Daniel Dufrene's 80-yard run at Ohio State on Nov. 10. Mendenhall's run also stands as the longest play in Illini bowl history and is tied for the 13th-longest play in the Illinois all-time record books.
Mendenhall rushed for 155 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries, breaking the single-season all-purpose yardage record with 1,999 yards this year and breaking the single-season scoring record with 114 points. He also improved his school-record total of 100-yard rushing games this season to eight, and moved to seventh on the all-time rushing chart with 2,539 yards. Mendenhall topped Keith Jones' season all-purpose yardage record of 1,818 by Keith Jones in 1988, and Neil Rackers' season scoring record of 110 points in 1999.
Arrelious Benn tied Illinois' longest pass play of the season when he caught an Eddie McGee pass in the fourth quarter and took it 56 yards for a touchdown, equaling his 56-yard catch-and-run on a Juice Williams pass against Ball State on Oct. 27. Today's touchdown marked a career-long pass for McGee, topping his 42-yard completion to Kyle Hudson against Missouri on Sept. 1.
Williams set career-highs with 21 completions, 35 pass attempts and 245 yards through the air, surpassing the 16-for-34 effort he had against Ohio on Oct. 14, 2006, and the 227 yards he threw for against Syracuse on Sept. 9, 2006. His 245 passing yards move him into eighth place on the career passing yardage list, passing Scott Weaver's 3,212 yards and Dave Wilson's 3,154 yards.
With his 28-yard field goal late in the first half, Jason Reda became Illinois' all-time scoring leader, breaking a tie between himself and Chris White, and giving Reda 51 career field goals, the third-most in school history. After kicking two extra points, Reda finished his career with 267 points.
Safety Justin Harrison recorded his first interception of the season and the fourth of his career late in the first quarter, returning it 45 yards. It was just the second interception return of the season by an Illini and was the longest, as the other was a one-yard return by Kevin Mitchell against Northwestern on Nov. 17.
Cornerback Vontae Davis had a career-high 13 tackles - all solos - leading the Illini in tackles, and recorded a tackle-for-loss on the day. His 13 solo tackles tied for the most in Illinois bowl history and fifth-most in the Illini records.
Safety Kevin Mitchell broke up one pass today, moving him into a six-way tie for fifth place in single-season PBUs at 12. He also made 11 tackles - including six solos - his most tackles since notching a career-high 14 against Northwestern on Nov. 19, 2005.
After recording a 10-yard sack of John David Booty in the second quarter, Doug Pilcher finished with 5.5 on the season for 55 yards, an average of 10 yards lost per sack. Brit Miller's sack of Booty later in the second quarter marked Illinois' 40th sack of the season, tying the school record set by the 2001 team. Miller also notched a career-high three TFLs on the day, breaking his old mark of two, which he last recorded at Syracuse on Sept. 15.
Punter Anthony Santella had a stellar day, punting six times for a 44.7-yard average. It is a career-high single-game average for the redshirt-freshman, topping a previous best of 42.2 against Ball State on Oct. 27, and is his second-most punts in a game this year, trailing the nine punts he boomed against Western Illinois on Sept. 8.
Redshirt-freshman Tad Keely saw his first career action when he snapped to punter Santella in the first quarter.