Dec. 31, 2011
ILLINOIS POSTGAME NOTES
Illinois 20, UCLA 14
Dec. 31, 2011 // AT&T Park // San Francisco, Calif. // Attendance: 29,878
1. With the win today, Illinois finished the season 7-6 for the second-straight year and won consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history after beating Baylor 38-14 in the 2010 Texas Bowl. It also made the Illini sophomore, junior and senior classes the first Illinois players to win two bowl games in their Illini careers.
2. The Illinois victory also breaks a four-game losing streak to UCLA and marks Illinois' first win over the Bruins since a 26-7 triumph in Champaign in 1964.
3. The Illini limited UCLA to only 18 rushing yards on 30 carries, a season-low by an FBS opponent and the fewest by an Illini opponent since San Jose State had 15 on Sept. 10, 2005. The previous low rushing yards by an FBS opponent this season was 83 by Indiana on Oct. 8.
4. Illinois' defense, which entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in total defense, held UCLA to 219 total yards today and limited the Bruins to only 14 first downs. That marked the second-fewest total yards by an FBS Illini opponent (Penn State, 209) and tied the fewest first downs this season by an FBS team against the Illini (OSU, PSU, Michigan)
5. Illinois broke the single-season school record for sacks in today's game with five. The previous record was 40 sacks, shared by the 2007 and 2001 teams.
6. The Illini also had 11 tackles for loss, pushing their season total to 103, the second-best in a season in school history. The school record is 107 in 1987.
1. Consensus All-American Whitney Mercilus tied the Illinois single-season sacks record with 1.5 sacks today and 16.0 sacks for the season, equaling Simeon Rice's total from 1994. He also had 3.0 TFLs today, giving him 22.5 for the season, the second-highest total in school history (Rice and Mike Poloskey share the record with 23 TFLs in 1995 and 1991, respectively).
2. Senior receiver A.J. Jenkins caught six passes for 80 yards and one touchdown today, giving him 1,276 receiving yards for the season, the second-best total in school history. David Williams' record of 1,278 yards from 1984 remains the school record by a narrow margin.
3. Junior cornerback Terry Hawthorne gave the Illini the lead near the end of the third quarter with his 39-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the second pick-six in Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl history and the second of Hawthorne's career, as he also took back a 44-yard interception return at Minnesota on Nov. 7, 2009. In KFHB history, Florida State also had a pick-six in 2009.
4. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase earned offensive player of the game honors after rushing 22 times for 110 yards and completing 18-of-30 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It is Scheelhaase's first 100-yard rushing game this season and fifth of his career.
5. Senior kicker Derek Dimke became Illinois' career field-goal accuracy record holder by making two-of-three field goals today. He finished his career 39-of-46 (.848), beating Peter Christofilakos' old mark of .840 from 1999-2002. Dimke also joined Christofilakos as the only Illini kickers to finish their career perfect on PATs, with Dimke 89-of-89 in his career.
6. Senior tackle Jeff Allen finishes his career with 47 starts, all consecutively, giving him the second-most starts in Illinois history. Tim Simpson and Ryan McDonald share the record with 48 career starts.