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    Game 6: Illinois (1-4, 0-3) at Indiana (3-3, 0-2)
    RB Mikel Leshoure scored two touchdowns last Saturday for the Illini against Michigan State.

    RB Mikel Leshoure scored two touchdowns last Saturday for the Illini against Michigan State.

    Oct. 12, 2009

    
    

    Complete release in PDF format


    FOR OPENERS

    • This week's game marks the 67th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Indiana Hoosiers. The Illini hold a 43-20-3 series advantage and have a slim 14-12-2 edge in Bloomington. The Illini won 55-13 last season in Champaign and also won the last meeting in Bloomington, 27-14, in 2007.
    • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.6 yards per carry through five games, including an outstanding success rate of 9.3 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The fivesome of Ford, Daniel Dufrene (5.3), Mikel LeShoure (5.0), Troy Pollard (6.4) and Justin Green (6.9) have rushed for 572 yards on 87 carries. Additionally, only nine total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, which gives them positive yardage on 98.
    • percent of their runs.
    • Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in the redzone. The Illini have scored 10 times in 11 attempts, 91 percent of the time, including seven touchdowns.
    • Linebacker Evan Frierson is tied for the Big Ten lead in fumble recoveries with two.
    • Illinois' defense held Michigan State scoreless in the second half, as MSU's only points came via an interception return on the first series of the half. The Illini defense also held MSU to just three first downs and 91 total yards in the second half.
    • Illinois rushed for 38
    • yards against Illinois State, the ninth-highest single game total in the NCAA through the first six weeks of the season. It was also Illinois' first 300-yard rushing performance since racking up 399 yards on the ground vs. Eastern Illinois on Sept. 6, 2008.
    • Five Fighting Illini true freshman - Walter Aikens, Michael Buchanan, Justin Green, Terry Hawthorne and Joelil Thrash - have played so far this season. In addition, two transfers, Jarred Fayson and Aaron Gress, and eight redshirt-freshmen, London Davis, Graham Pocic, Glenn Foster, Evan Frierson, Whitney Mercilus, Nate Palmer, Jack Ramsey and Ashante Williams have made their Fighting Illini debuts this season.


    INDIANA SERIES NOTES

    • This week's game marks the 67th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Indiana Hoosiers. The Illini hold a 43-20-3 series advantage and have a slim 14-12-2 edge in Bloomington. The Illini won 55-13 last season in Champaign and also won the last meeting in Bloomington, 27-14, in 2007.
    • In last year's 42-point victory Illinois jumped up 14-0 early and never looked back, racking-up 563 total yards, including 292 on the ground.
    • Illinois coach Ron Zook is 2-2 in his career against the Hoosiers, while Indiana coach Bill Lynch is 0-2 as a head coach against the Illini.
    • Illinois co-defensive coordinator Curt Mallory served as defensive backs coach under Gerry DiNardo at Indiana from 2002-04. He also got his start at Indiana, getting his master's degree when his father, Bill Mallory, was IU head football coach.


    HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE HOOSIERS

    • The Illini's 55 points in last year's win over the Hoosiers mark the highest scoring game of the Zook era and is the most points Illinois has ever scored in a Big Ten game at Illinois' Memorial Stadium (previous high was 50 in a 50-0 shutout over Iowa in 1973).
    • In last season's victory, wide receiver Arrelious Benn had seven catches for 130 yards and a TD. It was his fourth consecutive week with over 100 yards receiving.
    • Running back Jason Ford ran for a career-high 172 yards and three TDs in last year's Illini win.
    • Quarterback Juice Williams also had a big game in the 2008 win, connecting on 16-of-22 passes for 271 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, while also running for a another TD. In three seasons as a starter against IU, Williams has passed for 559 yards and tossed seven TDs against just two INTs.
    • Wide receiver A.J. Jenkins had a 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown last year against IU to tie the fifth longest kick return in school history.
    • Defensive end Doug Pilcher has had a sack against the Hoosiers in each of the last two meetings.
    • Tight end Hubie Graham caught his first career pass in the second quarter of last year's game.
    • Offensive tackle Corey Lewis and placekicker Derek Dimke both made their Illini debuts in last year's game as true freshmen.


    BENN THERE

    • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn needs 1,597 all-purpose yards to break the school's all-time record. He moved into the top-10 on the Illinois career list last week against Michigan State and currently sits in ninth with 3,140 all-purpose yards, just behind David Williams' eighth place total of 3,195. Robert Holcombe holds the school record of 4,737 yards.
    • Benn currently ranks seventh on both the UI career receiving yards (1,907) and career receptions (134) lists. Hall of Famer David Williams tops both lists by a wide margin, but Benn needs 679 yards and 36 catches the rest of the way to jump all the way up to second on both lists this season.
    • Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 850 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
    • With five catches for 96 yards against Penn State on Oct. 3, Benn continued his stallar play against the Nittany Lions. In three games against PSU, Benn has 15 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns, plus three kickoff returns for 147 yards and one touchdown.
    • Benn has caught a pass in 29 of his 30 career games. He had a streak of 25 consecutive games with a catch broken earlier this season, which at the time ranked seventh in the nation.
    • Last season, Benn broke the 1,000-yard mark receiving on 67 catches to lead the team. It was the first 1,000-yard season for an Illini receiver since 2002.
    • Benn earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2008 after recording five 100-yard receiving games and averaging 15.7 yards per catch.


    JUICE PUTS SQUEEZE ON ILLINI RECORD BOOK

    Illinois senior quarterback Juice Williams has a chance to leave the Illini program as the most productive signal callers in school history.

    • Already holds the Illinois total offense records for a career (9,268) and season (3,892)
    • Ranks eighth in total offense in Big Ten history
    • Already holds the Illinois QB rushing records for a career (2,235), season (755) and game (174)
    • Needs 1,693 passing yards to become the school's all-time passing yardage leader
    • Needs two starts for the most career starts as a quarterback
    • Needs 477 rushing yards to break into the Illinois top-5 all-time career rushing list
    • Needs 10 touchdown passes to move to second on the UI list for career scoring strikes
    • Williams broke the Illinois career total offense record earlier this season against Penn State. He now has 9,268 total yards in his career to surpass Kurt Kittner's previous record of 8,880.
    • With 142 total yards last week against Michigan State, Williams moved up one spot to eighth on the all-time Big Ten total offense list, jumping past Purdue's Mark Hermann (9,13
    • total yards). With 9,268 total yards, Williams enters this Saturday's game against Indiana needing just 32 yards to catch Michigan's Chad Henne for seventh place.
    • Williams currently ranks ninth on the Illinois all-time rushing list with 2,235 career yards. He needs 250 yards to catch Howard Griffith's eighth place total of 2,485 yards on the ground.
    • Williams ranks second on the all-time Big Ten quarterback rushing list with his 2,235 career yards. Second is likely where Williams' will stay, however, as Antwaan Randle El's conference record of 3,895 rushing yards appears out of reach.
    • Williams is fifth on the Illinois all-time rushing attempts list with 555, just behind Thomas Rooks' 560 carries and Jim Grabowski's 579 carries.
    • Last season, Juice Williams led the conference in both passing and total offense. His 324.3 total yard average was 82.3 yards better per game than the next league player.


    HEALING ILLINI

    • Junior linebacker Martez Wilson will miss the remainder of the 2009 season with a herniated disc neck injury. Wilson played in the season opener against Missouri, but sat out against Illinois State and Ohio State before having surgery to repair the injury on Sept. 28. He will spend the rest of the season recovering and helping to lead the Illini from the sidelines.
    • Sophomore cornerback Miami Thomas suffered a season-ending knee injury in preseason training camp.


    TOUGH SCHEDULE

    • Illinois' 2009 schedule was rated as the toughest in the Big Ten and the 10th-toughest in the nation by The Sporting News entering the season and looks even tougher midway through the season. Four of Illinois' opponents are ranked in this week's USA Today coaches poll and one more is receiving votes.
    • Currently, the Sagarin ratings rank Illinois' schedule the 25th-toughest nationally and after six weeks, Illinois' opponents' record is 42-27. One team remains undefeated through six weeks as Cincinnati is 5-0, and three other teams have just one loss (Missouri, Ohio State and Penn State).
    • The 2009 Illinois football schedule includes eight teams that played in bowl games a year ago -- Missouri, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Fresno State and Cincinnati -- including three that played in BCS games.
    • After opening against 2008 Big 12 North champion Missouri, the Illini faced Illinois State on Sept. 12 before starting the Big Ten season at #13/11 Ohio State and then hosting #15/13 Penn State and Michigan State, the top three teams in the preseason Big Ten Coaches poll, in consecutive weeks. Illinois then faces Michigan on Halloween and closes the regular season with a pair of tough non-conference games at 2008 Big East champion and No. 8/9 Cincinnati on Nov. 27 and home against 2008 New Mexico Bowl participant Fresno State on Dec. 5.


    BIG TEN RETURNING LEADING RUSHERS

    The Big Ten's career rushing leader entering the season was not a running back, it was Illini quarterback Juice Williams. Penn State running back Evan Royster is the conference's current career rushing leader, but Williams remains second with 2,235 yards rushing in his three-plus seasons as a quarterback, well ahead of third-place John Clay's total of 1,525 yards. Illini running back Daniel Dufrene ranks fifth with 1,112.

    1. Evan Royster, RB, Jr., Penn State - 2,253
    2. Juice Williams, QB, Sr., Illinois - 2,235
    3. John Clay, RB, So., Wisconsin - 1,525
    4. Brandon Minor, RB, Sr., Michigan - 1,430
    5. Daniel Dufrene, RB, Sr., Illinois - 1,112
    6. Terrelle Pryor, So., Ohio State - 964
    7. Demetrius McCray, Sr., Indiana - 949
    8. Carlos Brown, Sr., Michigan - 881
    9. Duane Bennett, So., Minnesota - 865
    10. Stephfon Green, So., Penn State - 826
    11. Adam Weber, Sr., Minnesota - 811


    WATCH OUT FOR THESE ILLINI

    Five different Illini players have been named to eight different preseason watch lists for national awards. Here is a list of the some Illini to keep an eye on this season:


    THE ILLINI OFFENSE

    • Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in the redzone. The Illini have scored 10 times in 11 attempts, 91 percent of the time, including seven touchdowns.
    • With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State, senior running back Daniel Dufrene went over 1,000 yards for his career. He is the 35th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone and currently sits at 1,112 yards, which ranks 29th on the UI career rushing list.
    • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure has become Illinois' touchdown scoring leader with three scores (18 points), including two in last week's game vs. Michigan State.
    • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.6 yards per carry through five games, including an outstanding success rate of 9.3 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The fivesome of Ford, Dufrene (5.3), Leshoure (5.0), Troy Pollard (6.4) and Justin Green (6.9) have rushed for 572 yards on 87 carries. Additionally, only nine total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, which gives them positive yardage on 98.
    • percent of their runs.
    • With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State, senior running back Daniel Dufrene went over 1,000 yards for his career. He is the 35th player in Illinois history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone and currently sits at 1,112 yards, which ranks 29th on the UI career rushing list.
    • The Illinois offense rolled up 548 total yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, including 38
    • on the ground, the seventh highest single-game total in the nation this season, on 46 carries (8.3 ypc).
    • Sophomore Jason Ford rushed for 137 yards against ISU, posting the second 100-yard game of his career. He also scored his ninth career touchdown with a one-yard run in the first quarter. Ford had a 68-yard run in the fourth quarter, which is the Illini's longest play of the season. For his performance, Ford was named an honorable mention College Football Performer of the Week by CFPA.
    • With Juice Williams missing most the game due to injury, back-up quarterback Eddie McGee stepped-up to have a solid game against ISU. McGee completed 13-of-17 passes for 16
    • yards and a touchdown and also ran for 55 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Illini to victory.
    • True freshman Justin Green rushed for 56 yards on seven carries (8.0 ypc) against ISU and scored his first career touchdown with 22-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
    • In the previous three seasons, the Illinois offense has led the Big Ten in rushing twice (2006, 2007) and in passing in 2008.
    • Illinois has put together back-to-back seasons of 5,000 yards of total offense. The 2007 total of 5,525 was a school record, while the 5,273 yards in 2008 ranks third in the Illini record book.
    • The Illinois offense returned 100 percent of its 2,03
    • rushing yards from the 2008 season and 87 percent of its 3,232 receiving yards, as well as three starters from the offensive line. The only skill player lost offensively was receiver Will Judson who accounted for 401 receiving yards.


    DEFENSIVE NOTES

    • Illinois' defense held Michigan State scoreless in the second half, as MSU's only points came via an interception return on the first series of the half. The Illini defense also held MSU to just three first downs and 91 total yards in the second half.
    • Tavon Wilson set a career high in tackles with 13 stops last week against Michigan State and also recorded his first career interception with a pick in the third quarter.
    • Linebacker Evan Frierson is tied for the Big Ten lead in fumble recoveries with two.
    • The Illini defense recorded seven passes broken up against the Spartans, marking the best pass defense effort since the 11 PBUs against Wisconsin in 2007.
    • The Illinois defense held 15th-ranked Penn State to seven first-half points on Oct. 3, marking a season low for points in the first half by PSU.
    • Illinois held Ohio State to 82 passing yards in the Sept. 26 matchup, marking the first time since last years' game against the Buckeyes (49 yards) that an opposing team has been held under 100 yards passing. OSU had 0 passing yards in first half.
    • Clay Nurse had a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss against the Buckeyes, helping to keep OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor relatively in check with 141 total yards.
    • The Illinois defense forced three turnovers against Illinois State, including two interceptions. In the second quarter defensive tackle Corey Liuget batted a pass up in the air and defensive end Doug Pilcher snared it and returned it 41 yards to set up a TD. Then in the fourth quarter linebacker Russell Ellington picked-off a pass and returned it 78 yards to end an ISU scoring threat.
    • Ellington's return marked the longest non-scoring interception return in school history. He also notched a career-high eight tackles and two passes broken up.
    • The Illini defense held Illinois State to just 4
    • yards rushing, the first opponent to rush for less than 50 yards against the Illini since Penn State had 40 yards on Oct. 21, 2006.
    • The Illini defense also pitched a first-half shutout against the Redbirds, marking the first scoreless half by a UI opponent since Syracuse (first half) on Sept. 15, 2007.
    • In each of the past three years, Illinois linebackers have led the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game -- J Leman in 2006 and 2007, and Brit Miller in 2008.
    • In 2008, the Illini defense led the Big Ten in both tackles for loss and quarterback sacks.


    THE SPECIAL TEAMS

    • Illinois ranks 25th in the nation in net punting at 38.07 yards.
    • Punter Anthony Santella averaged 44.8 yards per punt last week against Michigan State, with four 50-yard punts and two downed inside the 20.
    • Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 850 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
    • Sophomore Matt Eller kicked the 18th field goal of his career with his 22-yarder against Penn State in the second quarter. That gave him sole possesion of 10th on the Illinois all-time field goals list moving in out of a tie with Bart Macomber.
    • Eller is back for his sophomore season after a stellar debut campaign. His 15 made field goals in 2008 ranked fifth in a season in the Illinois record book and broke the school freshman record. He led the team in scoring and his 8
    • points were seventh-most in a season in school history.
    • In the first three games of 2009 Illinois has had several different players line-up deep for kickoff returns, including receivers Arrelious Benn and A.J. Jenkins, running backs Troy Pollard and Justin Green and defensive back Terry Hawthorne. On punt returns, both receivers Jarred Fayson and Jack Ramsey have lined-up as return men. Last year, Benn and Jenkins were Illinois' return men for kickoffs and punts. Jenkins averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return and Benn averaged 7.6 per punt return.


    TEAM NOTES

    • Last Saturday's game against Michigan State at Memorial Stadium was sold out, as was the Oct. 3 game against Penn State. With those two sellouts, Illinois has now had 10 sellouts in the last three seasons and tickets for the final three homes games of the season - Oct. 31 vs. Michigan, Nov. 1
    • vs. Northwestern and Dec. 5 vs. Fresno State are in short supply.
    • Student season tickets have sold out for the Illinois football season this year. It marks the second straight season that all 10,000 student tickets have sold out.
    • The win over Illinois State on Sept. 12 was Illinois' 12th straight home-opening win. Illinois is now 82-33-5 all-time in home openers.
    • The victory over Illinois State improved Illinois to 11-0 all-time against the other public universities in the state. The Illini are 3-0 against ISU and Northern Illinois, 2-0 against Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois and 1-0 against Western Illinois. All but one of those 11 meetings have come since 1985 (Illinois played ISU in 1944).
    • Attendance for the Sept. 12 home-opener was 62,347, the best home-opening crowd since 1995 vs. Michigan. In addition, Illinois' home games against Penn State (Oct. 3) and Michigan State (Oct. 10) were sellouts.


    ILLINOIS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

    • Illinois has faced two top-25 opponent this season and could face more down the road. The Illini have already faced #13/11 Ohio State and #15/13 Penn State and future opponent Cincinnati is ranked No. 9 in this week's AP poll, while Michigan is receiving votes after being ranked No. 22 last week.
    • The Illini are 3-8 vs. top-25 opponents over the past three seasons, including a win over No. 19 Penn State in 2007. Illinois is 2-3 against top-10 foes during that span with wins over No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State and a loss to No. 7 USC in 2007, and losses to No. 6 Missouri and No. 10 Ohio State in 2008. In the Ron Zook era, the Illini are 3-15 against ranked teams.
    • In his eight-plus years as a head coach, Ron Zook has posted nine wins over ranked opponents.


    BLOCK, PILCHER, WILLIAMS RETURN FOR 5TH YEAR

    Of Illinois' 15 seniors, only three are back for their fifth seasons. Center Eric Block has 17 starts under his belt. The New Orleans native went through senior day last season, but petitioned the NCAA to have his fifth year restored due to limited playing time and injuries in his first season. Defensive end Doug Pilcher has been a full-time starter for the Illini since 2006 after reshirting his first season at Illinois. Defensive tackle Sirod Williams was set for his senior year in 2008, but suffered a knee injury that forced him to redshirt.


    KING OF THE HOUSE

    • Last season, Juice Williams accomplished a feat unprecedented in history. In three games during 2008 (Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota), he set stadium records in total offense.
    • Williams passed for 451 yards and rushed for 10 against Missouri on Aug. 30 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo., eclipsing the 456 yards posted by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger against the New York Jets in 2004. Others that Williams surpassed include Kansas State's Michael Bishop, who had 442 total yards in the 1998 Big 12 championship game, and Tommy Corwin, who had 453 for DeSmet in a high school state title game in 2005. Williams managed to surpass Bulger's best day despite being sacked five times by Missouri for a loss of 42 yards. In college, sacks count against a quarterback's rushing yards but in the NFL they don't.
    • Williams compiled 431 yards of total offense at Michigan Stadium on Oct.
    • to set the stadium record. One week later on Oct. 11 against Minnesota, Williams threw for 462 yards and rushed for another 41, making his 503 total yards an Illinois Memorial Stadium record.
    • Based on research collected by Division I SIDs, there are no other current players who own stadium records in more than one venue, much less three.


    TRIO OF COACHES LEARNING THE LINGO

    Illinois welcomes three new faces to the coaching staff fo the 2009 season. Replacing Mike Locksley at offensive coordinator is former TCU offensive general Mike Schultz, while Joe Gilbert joins the staff to coach the offensive line. The sole change on the defensive side of the ball has former Cincinnati coach Keith Gilbert taking over the defensive line.


    HOOMANAWANUI HONORING HIS POLYNESIAN DESCENT

    • Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, while growing up in Bloomington, Ill., lived much of the Hawaiian heritage passed down by his father, Isy. Isy came to the States to play football at Illinois State then stayed to raise his family.
    • When Michael came to Illinois, he began many of the traditions carried on by Polynesian and Samoan football players. He entered his freshman year with clean-cut short hair, but then began to grow it out to the long black mane that can be seen out the backs of football helmets. This tradition dates back to Samoan warriors to signify battle. It also is very noticeable to the public in the stands and draws attention to their heritage.
    • Hoomanamwanui also got two tattoos, called Aumakua, which means "protectors." His family's protectors are the shark and the turtle, two images that have been passed down for centuries and are now tattoos on Michael's arms and shoulders.
    • Michael also can be seen on campus wearing what looks to be a brightly adorned skirt. However, it is called a kikepa and is traditional dress for men in Hawaii.


    ILLINOIS ATHLETICS HAS BANNER YEAR

    • With Illinois' fall sports beginning their seasons, the women's cross country is expected to post its fifth straight Top-10 NCAA finish, the soccer team is ranked 11th (as of 9/1) and volleyball is 8th (as of 8/31).
    • In the 2008-09 Learfield/NACDA Director's Cup rankings, Illinois finished 20th, the highest ranking in school history. Of the 21 sports Illinois sponsors, 15 advanced to postseason NCAA play and wrestling, men's gymnastics and women's cross country finished in the top-10.
      • Men's Gymnastics - 5th
      • Wrestling - 8th
      • Women's Cross Country - 10th
      • Women's Gymnastics - 12th
      • Women's Outdoor Track & Field - 12th
      • Men's Tennis - NCAA Sweet 16
      • Soccer - NCAA Sweet 16
      • Volleyball - NCAA Sweet 16
      • Men's Golf - 21st
      • Women's Indoor Track & Field - 27th
      • Women's Tennis - NCAA Second Round
      • Men's Oudoor Track & Field - 37th
      • Men's Basketball - NCAA First Round
      • Men's Indoor Track & Field - 47th
      • Softball - NCAA First Round


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