Illini Square Off With Spartans In Champaign

Jon Beutjer heads into the game against Michigan State ranked seventh on the Illinois charts with 30 career touchdown passes.
Jon Beutjer heads into the game against Michigan State ranked seventh on the Illinois charts with 30 career touchdown passes.

Oct. 6, 2003

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ILLINOIS (1-5, 0-2) vs.
No. 21/23 MICHIGAN STATE (5-1, 2-0)
October 11, 2003 - 11 a.m. CT (espn2)
Memorial Stadium (69,249) - Champaign, Ill.


  • Saturday's contest will be the 39th meeting between the Michigan State Spartans and Illinois Fighting Illini in the 48-year series history. The Spartans have won six straight, dating back to 1995 and Ron Turner is 0-4 vs. MSU. The two teams have not met since the 2000 season when Michigan State won 14-10.
  • The Illini will face its second of five consecutive Top-25 opponents this season when it hosts No. 23 Michigan State. The Illini are 0-1 vs. ranked foes this season, following a loss to No. 22/23 Purdue last weekend. Illinois has five wins against ranked opponents during the Turner-era. Following the Spartans, the Illini will square off against No. 20/19 Michigan on Oct. 18, No. 17/13 Minnesota on Oct. 25 and finally No. 15/14 Iowa on Nov. 1.
  • Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer is moving up the Illinois passing charts, ranking seventh with 30 career touchdown passes. He needs one more to move to sixth tying Jeff George's 31. His 430-passing performance against California was the second 400-yard game of his career, following a 426-yard output vs. San Jose State in 2001. With one more 400-yard output Beutjer could tie an Illinois record set by Dave Wilson and Tony Eason for most career 400-yard games.
  • True-freshman running back E.B. Halsey currently ranks fourth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage as Illinois' leading rusher, receiving threat and primary kick and punt returner. He is averaging 167.5 yards per contest and topped the 1,000-yard mark for the season through six games. He has topped 200 yards in three games this season and hit his career high against Wisconsin with 271 yards.
  • With 389 yards rushing, Halsey is improving on the Illinois freshman rushing list. He moved to sixth, passing Steve Feagin (1988). With 67 yards, he could move to fifth, tying Lonnie Perrin from 1972 and a career day of 131 yards would move him to fourth with Robert Holcombe (1994).
  • Junior wide receiver Kelvin Hayden has caught a Big Ten leading 39 passes for an average of 6.5 per game. His total receptions rank fourth in the country.
  • Of junior wide receiver Mark Kornfeld's 22 catches this season, 17 have converted first downs (77 percent).
  • True-freshman wide receiver Lonnie Hurst has tallied 264 yards on 22 catches through six games. The freshman record for receiving yards is 511 set by Brandon Lloyd in 1999.
  • Senior placekicker John Gockman ranks 16th in the nation with 10 field goals made (10-of-12), while sophomore punter Steve Weatherford is second in the conference with a 44.3 yard average, which is also 15th in the NCAA.


  • Ron Turner, Illinois ? (32-43 in his seventh year at Illinois, 39-47 overall, 19-31 in the Big Ten). Turner is 0-4 against Michigan State, the only team in the conference he has yet to beat. However, Turner and John L. Smith have met on three occasions, during Smith's tenure at Louisville. In those three meetings, the Illini have come out on top twice (1999 and 2001).
  • Turner earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2001 after leading Illinois to the Big Ten championship and a trip to the Nokia Sugar Bowl and its first 10-win season since 1989. The league title was the Illini's first since 1990.
  • Turner has served as quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or head coach since 1981. During that time he coached quarterbacks such as Jeff Garcia, Erik Kramer, Jim Harbaugh, Sean Salisbury, Rodney Peete and Kurt Kittner.
  • Turner led the Illini to an 8-4 record and a 63-21 thumping of Virginia in the Bowl in 1999. For his efforts, Turner finished fourth in the Associated Press Coach of the Year voting.
  • Turner came to Illinois after a four-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (1993-96). In 1992, he was the head coach for San Jose State where he turned in a 7-4 record and a second-place finish in the Big West Conference. Turner served as an assistant at Stanford, Texas A&M, Southern California, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Arizona working mainly with quarterbacks and receivers during his 20+ years in college coaching.
  • JOHN L. SMITH, MICHIGAN STATE - (5-1 in his first season at Michigan State; 115-61 in his 15th year at the collegiate level.) Smith is in his first season at MSU and has the Spartans off to a 5-1 start, including 2-0 in the Big Ten. Smith began his coaching career at Idaho from 1989-94 before moving to Utah State from 1995-97. He led USU to consecutive conference championships in 96 and 97 before taking over at Louisville from 1998-2002. He has led teams to bowl appearances each of the last six seasons, including all five years at Louisville. He coached against Ron Turner three times as head coach at Louisville compiling a 1-2 record. The Cardinals won 35-9 in 1998, with the Illini taking the other two meetings in 1999 (41-36) and 2001 (34-10).

    Series History

  • Michigan State leads the all-time series 20-16-2, including wins in the last six meetings dating back to 1992 (14-10 UI win at Champaign). The series is tied 9-9-1 in games played at Memorial Stadium. The last meeting in 2000 ended with a 14-10 victory by the Spartans at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
  • Only 10 Illinois players from the current roster played in that game three years ago, all in reserve roles: LB Joe Bevis, OT Sean Bubin, FB Carey Davis, DT Charles Gilstrap, FB Brad Haywood, S Marc Jackson, WR Eric McGoey, CB Christian Morton and DE Derrick Strong.
  • Illinois took six straight wins in the series from 1980-85, but Michigan State has a 9-3-1 advantage since 1986. The Spartans have won the last three at Memorial Stadium. 4 MSU Offensive Coordinator Dave Baldwin was head coach at San Jose State from 1997-2000, while Illini head coach Ron Turner was head coach at SJSU in 1992.
  • Illinois has seven players from the state of Michigan, including defensive back Sharriff Abdullah (Detroit/St. Martin DePorres), defensive back Alan Ball (Detroit/St. Martin DePorres), defensive back Cornelius Dillard (Detroit/St. Martin DePorres), wide receiver Lonnie Hurst (Detroit/Jesuit), linebacker Anthony Thornhill (Detroit/Central), quarterback DeJuan Warren (Southfield) and placekicker Justin Brantley (Detroit/St. Martin DePorres). Abdullah is a redshirt freshman, while the other five are all true freshmen.


  • True-freshman E.B. Halsey scored his fifth touchdown of the season when he returned a punt 41 yards against the Purdue Boilermakers. He has now scored three different ways this season (one rushing touchdown, three receiving and one punt return). The feat marks the ninth time that an Illinois player had
  • touchdown three ways in the same season and the first time since 1972 when George Uremovich did it with a rushing, receiving and kick return score.

    Red Grange, 1923 (punt return, rush, reception)
    Red Grange, 1925 (kickoff return, rush, reception)
    Don Greenwood, 1944 (kickoff return, rush, interception return)
    Buddy Young, 1944 (punt return, rush, reception)
    Paul Patterson, 1944 (punt return, rush, reception)
    Eddie McGovern, 1943 (interception return, rush, reception)
    Johnny Karras, 1949 (kickoff return, rush, reception)
    George Uremovich, 1972 (kickoff return, rush, reception)
    E.B. Halsey, 2003 (punt return, rush, reception)