Football
Game 7: Ohio State at #16/15 Illinois Game Notes

 
Trulon Henry had two interceptions against the Buckeyes last season.
Trulon Henry had two interceptions against the Buckeyes last season.
 

Oct. 10, 2011

GAME 7: Ohio State (3-3, 0-2) at #16/15 Illinois (6-0, 2-0)

Oct. 15, 2011 // 2:33 CDT kick // ABC (ESPN mirror)
Champaign, Ill. // Memorial Stadium (60,670)

Complete Illinois Game Notes
Complete Ohio State Game Notes

TELEVISION BROADCAST
The Illinois/OSU game will be nationally televised by ABC (ESPN in some markets - coverage map released on Wednesday) with an air time of 2:30 p.m. CDT. Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Bob Davie (color analyst) and Heather Cox (sideline) will call the action with Bob Goodrich producing. The game also will be streamed live at ESPN3.com.

RADIO BROADCAST
The 41-station Illini Sports Network will carry the radio broadcast with the pregame show beginning at 2 p.m. CDT. Calling the action will be Brian Barnhart (play-by-play), Kurt Kittner (color analyst) and Steve Kelly (pregame, halftime and postgame). The broadcast also can be heard on SIRIUS (85) XM (85) satellite radio.

GAMEDAY LINKS
Stripe the Stadium Map | Gameday Central | Watch | Listen | Gametracker | Mobile Livestats | Twitter | Facebook

FANS ASKED TO "STRIPE THE STADIUM"
Fans attending Saturday's game are encouraged to "Stripe the Stadium" by wearing either orange or blue depending on the section where their seats are located. Fans seated in the odd-numbered sections and the entire north end zone are asked to wear orange, while fans in the even-numbered sections should wear blue.

Fans also will be a part of the Stripe the Stadium FanCam at halftime, a 360-degree, high-definition image of Memorial Stadium.

TICKET INFORMATION
Limited tickets are available for Saturday's game against Ohio State and can be purchased at the UI Athletic Ticket Office at Assembly Hall, by calling 1-866-ILLINI-1 or online at fightingillini.com.

FOR OPENERS
• The 16th-ranked Fighting Illini return to Memorial Stadium this Saturday to host Ohio State in a battle for the Illibuck rivalry trophy (2:30 pm CT, ABC/ESPN). Illinois is looking to move to 7-0 after a 41-20 win at Indiana last week.
• At 6-0, Illinois is off to its best start since the 1951 team opened the season 7-0 en route to a 9-0-1 record and a share of the national championship (Boand Poll). The Illini are one of 13 remaining unbeaten teams in the nation and one of just seven that are 6-0 and bowl-eligible.
• The Illini have won seven in a row dating back to last season, which is the third-longest current streak in the nation and is the longest UI winning streak since the 2001 Big Ten championship team also won seven straight. An Illinois team has not won eight consecutive games since the 1983 Big Ten champs won 10 in a row.
• Illinois moved up three spots to No. 16 in this week's Associated Press poll and jumped one spot to No. 15 in the USA Today coaches' poll, marking the program's highest ranking since heading into the 2008 Rose Bowl at No. 13. It's the Illini's fourth-straight week in the AP poll and their third in the coaches' poll. When the Illini entered the AP Top 25 on Sept. 18, it marked the program's first appearance in the AP rankings since Sept. 21, 2008.
• The Illini defense has forced at least one turnover in 21 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the nation. The streak, which started on Nov. 14, 2009, nearly ended against Northwestern on Oct. 1, but DE Whitney Mercilus fell on the Wildcats' last-ditch lateral attempt on the final play of the game to extend the streak.
• Biletnikoff Award candidate A.J. Jenkins has 18 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games, the most receiving yards in a two-game span in Big Ten history. Jenkins leads the nation in receiving yards (815) and is fifth in yards per game (135.83). His 268 yards against Northwestern shattered David Williams' UI single-game record and his 328 all-purpose yards were the third-most in school history.
• Sophomore QB Nathan Scheelhaase ranks fifth in the nation and second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (175.83). He has thrown 23 TDs against just four INTs over the last 13 games. He threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns to lead Illinois back from an 18-point deficit against Northwestern.
• Junior DE Whitney Mercilus leads the nation in sacks (8.5) and is second nationally in sacks per game (1.42) after racking up a career-high three sacks against Indiana. He also has forced four fumbles to rank fourth nationally (0.67 per game).
• Senior DB Tavon Wilson was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and CFPA National Defensive Player of the Week after a big performance at Indiana. Wilson returned a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown against the Hoosiers and also had a team-high 11 tackles, including nine solos, a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one pass break-up in the game.
• Senior PK Derek Dimke has made 10 straight field goals dating back to last year's Texas Bowl, which is tied for the third-longest streak in school history. Dimke is a perfect 7-of-7 this season and is 36-of-41 for his career (.878), which makes him the nation's most accurate active kicker.

Troy Pollard is averaging a healthy 9.8 yards per carry this season.


QUICK HITS
• Illinois' non-conference FBS foes have a combined record of 13-2 outside of their losses to the Illini.
• Illinois has 1,357 rushing yards while holding opponents to only 478 rushing yards.
• Illinois is averaging 4.7 yards per rush while holding opponents to only 2.3 yards per rush.
• Illinois ranks seventh in the nation in third-down efficiency, converting 47-of-86 (.547) third downs in 2011.
A.J. Jenkins has 61 percent of Illinois' receiving yards, the most in the nation by a wide margin. Nevada's Rishard Matthews is second at 49.9.
• Jenkins is tied for the national lead with four plays of 50+ yards.
Troy Pollard is averaging 9.8 yards per carry, third-most in the nation for anyone with at least 30 carries.
Whitney Mercilus and Michael Buchanan rank 1-2 in Big Ten in sacks.
• Illinois has outscored its opponents 66-20 in the first quarter and 51-14 in the third quarter.
• The Illini defense has held four of six opponents under 100 yards rushing.
• Six different Illini have won Big Ten weekly awards in the first six weeks.

JENKINS MAKING MOST OF SENIOR SEASON
• Senior WR A.J. Jenkins is saving his best season for his last. The Biletnikoff Award candidate leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth nationally in yards per game (135.8), and is third in the nation with seven receiving touchdowns.
• Jenkins' school-record 268-yard performance against Northwestern also ranked as the third-most receiving yards in a Big Ten conference game and as the fourth-best mark in all games in Big Ten history.
• Jenkins' has four scoring plays of 50+ yards this season, which is tied for the most in the nation. He's had TD receptions of 77, 72, 67 and 50 yards this season. His 13 receptions of 20+ yards also are tied for the national lead.
• Jenkins' three 65-plus yard TD catches this season also is a UI record, eclipsing the previous mark of two by Rich Kreitling in 1958. All three of Jenkins' long TDs have come from QB Nathan Scheelhaase, marking the first time in school history that a QB and receiver have combined for multiple TD passes of 65-plus yards in their careers.
• Jenkins' three-touchdown performance against NU matched the single-game receiving touchdown record at Illinois and marked the first time an Illini has accomplished the feat since Greg Lewis in 2000. He currently is third on Illinois' all-time list with 18 career TD receptions behind Brandon Lloyd (21) and David Williams (24).
• Fifty-five percent of Scheelhaase's completions have gone to Jenkins this season (44 of 80), the highest percentage in the nation between any QB-WR duo just ahead of Rutgers' Chas Dodd and Mohamed Sanu (53.6 percent).
• Jenkins and Scheelhaase are the most prolific QB-WR combo in the Big Ten over the last two seasons. The Illini duo has connected 95 times, ahead of Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham (88). Michigan's Denard Robinson and Roy Roundtree are a distant third, connecting 66 times since the start of last season.
• Jenkins has at least one catch in 24 straight games. His 12 catches against Northwestern tied for the third-most in a game in school history and his 11 catches against Arkansas State on 9/3 tied the most ever in a season-opener by an Illini (David Williams had 11 against Northwestern on Sept. 1, 1984).
• Jenkins' fast start to 2011 has propelled him onto several UI career record lists. He currently ranks third in career TD receptions (18), fifth in career 100-yard receiving games (7), eighth in career receiving yardage (1,971) and ninth in career receptions (123). See page 12 for a complete list of Illini records to watch.

SCHEELHAASE KEEPS IMPROVING
• Sophomore QB Nathan Scheelhaase ranks third nationally in yards per pass attempt (10.3) behind only Wisconsin's Russell Wilson (12.5) and Baylor's Robert Griffin III (10.6). Scheelhaase is averaging a whopping 15.5 yards per completion in 2011, well ahead of his 2010 average of 11.8.
• Scheelhaase has accounted for eight of Illinois' 12 touchdowns in the last two games (six passing, two rushing).
• Scheelhaase now has three TD passes of 65-plus yards this year, all to WR A.J. Jenkins, which equals Juice Williams' single-season school-record total from 2006.
• Scheelhaase ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency (175.8). The Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Award candidate has improved his completion percentage from 58.7 in 2010 to 66.7 this season.
• Scheelhaase had a career game against Northwestern, throwing for 391 yards and three touchdowns in the comeback victory to easily eclipse his previous high of 267 yards against Arkansas State earlier this season. His one-yard TD plunge with 13 seconds left provided the winning points against the Wildcats.
• Scheelhaase has made drastic improvement during his 19 games on the field. After tossing four touchdowns and seven interceptions in Illinois' first six games of 2010, Scheelhaase rebounded to throw 13 TD strikes against just one pick during the final seven games. When you factor in his 2011 numbers, he now has thrown 23 touchdowns and only four interceptions since the midpoint of 2010.
• Scheelhaase has been outstanding in Illinois' 13 wins since the beginning of the 2010 season, completing 170-of-250 passes (68.0 percent) for 2,288 yards, 20 TDs and four INTs for a 168.1 efficiency rating. He also has rushed for 849 yards on 181 carries and six TDs in those 13 games. For comparison, Scheelhaase is 65-of-134 (48.5 percent) for 775 yards, seven TDs and seven INTs for a 103.9 rating in Illinois' six losses.

OHIO STATE SERIES NOTES
• This weekend's game between Illinois and Ohio State will mark the 98th meeting between the two teams, dating back to 1902. OSU holds the series lead, 63-30-4, and also leads in Champaign, 34-12-0. The Illini's last win over OSU was in Columbus in 2007, when Juice Williams led Illinois to a 28-21 win over the top-ranked Buckeyes.
• Illinois' last win over the Buckeyes in Champaign was a 10-7 victory on Oct. 12, 1991. However, the last five meetings between the two teams at Memorial Stadium have been close. The Illini lost by three in 2001 (24-21), seven in overtime in 2002 (23-16), seven in 2006 (17-10), 10 in 2008 (30-20) and 11 in 2010 (24-13).
• Illinois has fared relatively well against Buckeyes recently, posting a 9-12 record against OSU dating back to 1988. Only Michigan has more victories over Ohio State during the span, posting an 11-11-1 record vs. OSU.
• The Illini have been ranked in the AP poll while facing Ohio State 14 times in the past and hold a 9-4-1 record in those games. Illinois has won the last five meetings against OSU when the Illini are ranked. The most recent time was on Nov. 17, 2001, when the #12 Illini topped the #25 Buckeyes in Columbus, 34-22.
• Illinois and Ohio State have met only five times previously when the Illini were ranked and the Buckeyes were not ranked at the time of the game. The most recent occurrence was on Oct. 7, 1989, when No. 18 Illinois defeated unranked Ohio State 34-14 at Memorial Stadium.
• This will be Ron Zook's seventh head-to-head meeting with Ohio State. He is 1-5 in the previous six meetings. OSU coach Luke Fickell is in his first season at the helm of the Buckeyes.
• Zook was the defensive backs coach on the Ohio State coaching staff from 1988-90 under John Cooper. The Illini were 3-0 vs. Ohio State during that time, including two wins in Columbus.
• Zook is a native of Loudonville, Ohio, and is a 1976 graduate of Miami of Ohio. He was a three-year letter-winning defensive back from 1973-75 and a captain of the 1975 team. During his time, Miami was 32-1-1.
• Illinois has 11 players on its roster from the state of Ohio, including the following players who have seen regular time on the field in 2011: sophomore DB Steve Hull (Cincinnati/Sycamore), sophomore DL Tim Kynard (Toledo/St. John's), junior DE Whitney Mercilus (Akron/Garfield), junior BAN Justin Staples (Lakewood/St. Edward), junior OL Hugh Thornton (Oberlin) and junior LB Ashante Williams (Mayfield). Redshirt-freshman Simon Cvijanovic (Cleveland/Benedictine) and sophomore OL Jake Feldmeyer (Centerville) also have seen action this season.

The Illini and Buckeyes battle for the Illibuck rivalry trophy


THE BATTLE FOR THE ILLIBUCK
• This week, Illinois and Ohio State will play for the coveted Illibuck trophy. Ohio State leads the "Illibuck" series with a 59-23-2 mark.
• "Illibuck" is - or was - a turtle, destined for long life, it was hoped. But the wear and tear of traveling between Champaign-Urbana and Columbus was too much, even for a hardy marine reptile. "Illibuck" died in the spring of 1927 and his successor is now a wooden replica. Members of two junior honorary societies, Bucket and Dipper of Ohio State and Atius-Sachem of Illinois, annually meet at halftime of the Fighting Illini-Buckeye game to present the "Illibuck" trophy to the previous year's winning school.
• Illinois last took the "Illibuck" with a 28-21 win at Columbus in 2007, but Ohio State took it back with a 30-20 win in Champaign in 2008 and retained it the last two years with a 30-0 win at Ohio Stadium in 2009 and a 24-13 win at Memorial Stadium last season.

HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE BUCKEYES
• Illinois has held Ohio State to less than 100 yards passing in each of the last three meetings. In 2008, the Buckeyes had 49 passing yards; in 2009, they had only 82 yards through the air; and last season, Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman combined for only 77 yards passing.
• Linebacker Trulon Henry had two interceptions against the Buckeyes last season, one against Pryor and one against Bauserman.
• Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had his first career reception in last year's game, hauling in a 23-yard pass from WR Jarred Fayson. Scheelhaase also ran for a three-yard touchdown in that game.
• Illinois' last win over the Buckeyes in 2007 marked the first time the Illini beat a top-ranked team since 1956. The victory ended OSU's 29-game regular-season winning streak and 21-game Big Ten win streak.

THE BIG TEN'S RUSHING TEAM
• During the Ron Zook era (since 2005), Illinois leads the conference in rushing yards per game. The Illini's 206.4 yards per game (16,303 yards in 79 games) in the last six-plus seasons tops Wisconsin's 201.2 ypg (16,701 yards in 83 games) during that same time span.
• Illinois' 226.2 ypg this season ranks 13th in the nation. The Illini have finished the season ranked in the top-20 nationally in rushing yards per game in four of the last five years.
• Over two-thirds of Illinois' plays this season have been runs (67.7 percent - 290 rushes in 428 total plays).
• The Illini have led the conference in rushing in three of the last five years (2006, '07 and '10).

CARDIAC KIDS
• Illinois has had three wins come down to the wire this season. The wins over Arizona State, Western Michigan and Northwestern in consecutive weeks marked the first time in school history that the Illini won three straight games by three points or less.
• The Illini overcame a 14-10 fourth-quarter deficit in the Sept. 17 win over No. 22 Arizona State. A 16-yard TD reception by A.J. Jenkins with 9:59 remaining gave Illinois the lead and then the defense took over, forcing four straight Brock Osweiler incompletions to give the Illini a 17-14 win.
• Against Western Michigan, a Derek Dimke field goal with 5:44 left broke a 20-20 tie. Then the defense did the job once again, holding the Broncos scoreless on two final drives to give Illinois a 23-20 win.
• Illinois had to come from behind twice against Northwestern on Oct. 1. The Illini trailed 28-10 late in the third before scoring 21 points in less than 12 minutes to take a 31-28 lead. After an Illinois defensive stop, the offense fumbled and NU scored to go up 35-31 with 1:15 remaining. This time, the offense stepped up with a 69-yard TD drive, capped by one-yard Nathan Scheelhaase QB sneak with 13 seconds left, to give the Illini the win.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
• Fresh off a record-breaking 2010 season, the Illini offense has not let up this year. In 2011, the Illini are averaging 34.7 ppg, 447.7 ypg and 226.2 rushing ypg. Last season, the Illini broke school records for both total points scored (423) and points per game (32.53), and led the Big Ten in rushing (246.1 ypg).
• The offense has exploded since the midpoint of 2010. During the first six games last year, the Illini averaged 21.3 points and 320.0 yards per game. In the 13 games since, the Illini are averaging 38.7 ppg and 448.3 ypg.
• Illinois has converted 24-of-27 red-zone chances into points this season (89 percent), scoring 18 TDs and six FGs on trips inside the 20, which ranks 28th nationally. In 2010, Illinois ranked third in the nation in red-zone scoring percentage, picking up points on 49 of its 52 trips inside the 20 (94 percent).
• Illinois has shown its ball-control ability early in 2011, holding the ball an average of 32:39, which ranks 17th nationally and second in the Big Ten in time of possession. The Illini dominated possession in the second half against Western Michigan, holding the ball for 22:13 after the break. Overall, Illinois has had 11 scoring drives last at least 10 plays and nine last at least five minutes each.
• The Illini also have shown quick-strike capabilities, with 11 scoring drives lasting less than two minutes, including the game-winning final drive against Northwestern (6 plays, 69 yards for a TD in 1:02).
• For the second year in a row, an Illini broke an individual program record against Northwestern. In 2010, RB Mikel Leshoure ran for an Illinois record 330 yards in the Illini win at Wrigley Field. This season, WR A.J. Jenkins had a school-record 268 receiving yards in Illinois' win over the 'Cats.
• Illinois' 53-point margin of victory against South Dakota State on Sept. 10 is its largest since 1944, when the Illini defeated Illinois-Normal (Illinois State), 79-6. Illinois' 56 points were its most at home since 2002, when the Illini scored 59 against Arkansas State.
• While Illinois' rushing offense has remained dominant, the Illini are doing it by committee this year rather then relaying on one dominant runner like in 2007 (Rashard Mendenhall) and 2010 (Mikel Leshoure). Four different Illini have between 279 and 361 rushing yards this season and three different Illini have scored at least four TDs on the ground.
• Senior RB Troy Pollard leads the Illini ground attack with a team-high 361 yards on only 37 carries. His 9.8 yards per carry marks the third-highest rushing average in the nation. A fifth-year senior, Pollard ran for a career-high 133 yards on 14 attempts (9.5 ypc) against Western Michigan on 9/24, his second 100-yard effort in a three-game span (101 vs. South Dakota State on 9/10).
• Senior RB Jason Ford has 24 career rushing TDs, tying him with Chubby Phillips, Jim Grabowski and Johnny Karras for fourth on the UI career list. He needs just one more to move up to second place and is seven behind Howard Griffith's UI career record of 31. Ford currently ranks 19th on the UI career rushing list (1,641 yards).
• RB Donovonn Young was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after running for 100 yards on 12 carries (8.3 ypc), including a 14-yard TD run in the win over Western Michigan on 9/24. For the season, Young is third on the team with 314 rushing yards on 47 carries (6.7 ypc) and is tied for second on the team lead with four rushing TDs.
• Weak-side tackle Jeff Allen anchors the Illini offensive line once again. The Lombardi and Outland trophy candidate has started every game since the fourth game of his freshman season, giving him a team-high 40 consecutive starts.
• With Allen as the anchor, most of the offensive line is loaded with experience. Junior weak-side guard Hugh Thornton, junior center Graham Pocic and senior strong-side guard Jack Cornell all are returning starters from a team that led the Big Ten in rushing. The only new part is the strong-side tackle spot, where RS freshman Michael Heitz has started the first six games and played nearly every snap so far in 2011.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
• Illinois' defense held Indiana to a pair of field goals after two UI fumbles, including one at the Illinois three-yard line, continuing a trend over the past two seasons where the Illini minimized damage after turnovers. This season, Illinois has given up only 20 points on four scores after 11 turnovers. Since the start of 2010, the Illini have held opponents to 45 points (three TDs, eight FGs) on 27 turnovers.
• Illinois' opponents have started seven drives inside Illinois territory this season, but have scored on just three on those seven for a total of 17 points (two touchdowns, one field goal). In 2010, opponents started 23 regulation drives in plus territory, but the Illini defense allowed just three touchdowns and 11 field goals on those 23 drives.
• The Illinois defense came up big in the upset of No. 22 Arizona State with 12 TFLs, six sacks and three takeaways, while allowing just 14 points. A week after the Illini held them to 14 points, the Sun Devils put up 43 points on USC. ASU is averaging 40 ppg in its other five games this season, all wins.
• Illinois held South Dakota State to just three points, 96 total yards and 25 rushing yards on Sept. 10. It marked the first time since 1998 that the Illini kept an opponent under 100 total yards, when the Illini limited Middle Tennessee State to 69 yards. It also marked the first time in the last 13 games that the Illini held an opponent without a TD, dating back to Sept. 11, 2010, against Southern Illinois (35-3).
• Junior DE Whitney Mercilus has become a force on the defensive line this season. He leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally in sacks (1.42 per game) and also has racked up 10.5 TFLs, five QB hurries, a Big Ten-best four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one PBU.
• Junior DB Terry Hawthorne collected nine tackles, including a career-high eight solos, three PBUs and one interception against Western Michigan. The interception was his first of the season and third of his career. Hawthorne leads the Illini and is second in the Big Ten with six passes defended (five PBUs, one INT) on the season.
• Sophomore LB Jonathan Brown was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after a dominant performance in the upset win over Arizona State. Brown had a hand in two of the three Illini takeaways against ASU, intercepting a Brock Osweiler pass in the third quarter and forcing an errant throw by Osweiler on Glenn Foster's first-quarter interception. Brown had career highs with 3.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks, and also added seven tackles. For the season Brown is fourth on the team in tackles with 30 and third in TFLs with 6.0.
• Senior LB Trulon Henry is leading the Illini and tied for seventh in the Big Ten with two interceptions on the season, including a 27-yard pick-six against South Dakota State. Henry moved to the sam linebacker this season after starting 12 games at safety last season. He is the older brother of former Illini standout and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Arrelious Benn.
• Junior DT Glenn Foster's interception in the Arizona State game was the first of his career. It also was the first interception by an Illini lineman since Doug Pilcher on Sept. 12, 2009, against Illinois State.
• Senior linebacker Ian Thomas is back to the familiar role of middle linebacker for the 2011 season, ranking second on the Illini with 34 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, one sack and three QB hurries. Playing in the middle isn't new for Thomas, as he led the team in tackles as the MLB in 2009 before moving to weak-side linebacker for the 2010 season.

THE SPECIAL TEAMS
• Senior PK Derek Dimke remains perfect during 2011, hitting all seven of his FG attempts and all 23 PATs. He has hit 36-of-41 field goals in his career (.878), which ranks first nationally among active kickers (minimum 15 games played and 20 made field goals).
• A Lou Groza Award candidate, Dimke has made 10 straight field goals dating back to the 2010 Texas Bowl. That ties him for the third-longest streak in school history and is three short of Mike Bass' UI record of 13.
• Dimke is a perfect 78-of-78 on extra points in his career, making him one of only two players in Illinois history to be perfect with at least 65 PAT attempts.
• With 45 points in 2011, Dimke has raised his career total to 186, which ties him for ninth in UI history with the legendary Red Grange. Dimke's 36 career field goals rank seventh in Illinois history.
• Dimke earned Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the third time in his career after hitting all three of his field goals attempts (39, 35 and 21) against Western Michigan.
• Dimke also handles kickoff duties for the Illini. He's had eight touchbacks in 39 kickoffs and has a 62.8-yard average this season. Last year, he booted 22 touchbacks and had a 62.0 average on 79 kickoffs.
• True-freshman Justin DuVernois has taken over punting duties after the loss of 2010 first-team All-Big Ten punter Anthony Santella to graduation. He has punted 20 times for a 38.2-yard average this season, including a long of 49, eight fair catches and five inside the 20, and also had one free kick for 49 yards following a safety.
• DuVernois is one of just eight true-freshman starting punters in the nation.
• Sophomore WR Ryan Lankford serves as both the back-up punter and primary punt returner. A rugby-style punter, Lankford has kicked four times with a long of 50 yards and has returned 12 punts for a total of 38 yards. He is the first Illinois player since Bob Bess in 1969 to both punt and return a punt in the same season.

MISCELLANEOUS TEAM NOTES
• Illinois started the 2011 season with five straight home games and has eight total home games this season for the first time in the Memorial Stadium era and first time since 1903, when the Illini played nine home games. Entering Saturday's Ohio State game, the Illini have an all-time record of 252-209-14 at Memorial Stadium.
• With only 26 penalties for 219 yards on the season, the Illini rank 11th nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (36.5) and 15th in fewest penalties committed (4.33 per game). The Illini were penalty-free against Arkansas State, the first time in 18 years that the Illini played a game with being flagged.
• The 38-35 win over Northwestern gave the Illini possession of the Land of Lincoln rivalry trophy for the second year in a row. Illinois also plays for rivalry trophies against Ohio State (Illibuck) and Purdue (Cannon).
• The 18-point come-from-behind victory over NU was the was the biggest comeback win for the Illini since 2005, when they came from down 20 to beat Rutgers in overtime in Ron Zook's first game as Illinois head coach.

HEADLINES