Game 7: Illinois (1-5, 0-4) at Purdue (2-5, 1-2)

Sophomore running back Mikel Leshoure is expected to play Saturday at Purdue after sustaining a sprained ankle at Indiana last week.
Sophomore running back Mikel Leshoure is expected to play Saturday at Purdue after sustaining a sprained ankle at Indiana last week.

Oct. 20, 2009

Complete release in PDF format


  • This Saturday, Illinois and Purdue will play for the "Cannon" for the first time since 2006. The Illini lead the all-time series 41-37-6, but Purdue leads 29-25-2 since the two teams started playing for the Cannon in 1943.
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.2 yards per carry through six games, including an outstanding success rate of 8.2 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The fivesome of Ford, Daniel Dufrene (5.1), Mikel LeShoure (5.6), Troy Pollard (6.4) and Justin Green (6.9) have rushed for 703 yards on 113 carries. Additionally, only 15 total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, which gives them positive yardage on 97.8 percent of their runs.
  • With 95 receiving yards against Indiana, junior receiver Arrelious Benn became the seventh player in school history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark for career receiving yards. He now has 2,002 career yards, which ranks just behind Jason Dulick's sixth-place total of 2,004.
  • Benn's 140 all-purpose yards against Indiana moved him from ninth to sixth on the Illinois career list. He now has 3,280 career all-purpose yards to move past Illini legends David Williams (3,195), Red Grange (3,263) and Howard Griffith (3,264). Next on the list is Chubby Phillips' 3,380 yards.
  • Quarterback Juice Williams had 312 total yards against Indiana last week to move up one spot to seventh on the all-time Big Ten total offense list, jumping past Michigan's Chad Henne (9,300 total yards). With 9,580 total yards, Williams needs 73 yards to catch Purdue's Kyle Orton for sixth place.
  • Williams' next start will make him the school's all-time leader in starts by a quarterback. He is currently tied for the record with Kurt Kittner with 39 career starts.
  • Linebacker Evan Frierson is tied for the Big Ten lead in fumble recoveries with two.
  • Illinois rushed for 38
  • yards against Illinois State, the 10-highest single game total in the NCAA through the first seven 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.
  • True-freshman Hugh Thornton saw his first action of the season last week, making the start at right tackle against Indiana. Thornton makes it six true freshman who have played for the Illini this year as he joins Walter Aikens, Michael Buchanan, Justin Green, Terry Hawthorne and Joelil Thrash. 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.


  • This week Illinois and Purdue will play for the coveted "Cannon". Purdue leads the traditional trophy series by a 29-25-2 mark.
  • The "Cannon," more accurately known as the Purdue Cannon, made its first trip to Champaign-Urbana in 1905 when a group of Purdue students brought it to fire after a Boilermaker victory. Purdue won the game, 29-0, but the Cannon was never fired. Illinois student Quincy Hall found the Cannon hidden near the old Illinois Field. Hall and a group of Delta Upsilon brothers confiscated the Cannon and held it until 1943 when they donated it as a symbol of the UI-Purdue rivalry. Tomahawk Service and Leadership honorary at Purdue and Illini Pride of Illinois maintain the trophy when the respective school has won it.
  • Illinois held the Cannon for a two-year stretch after victories over Purdue during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. The Cannon was last fired Nov. 4, 2001, at the Illinois football complex following the victory. The Boilers won back the trophy in 2003 and have retained possession of it for the last six years following a 42-31 win over Illinois in 2006. The two teams did not meet in 2007 and 2008.


  • Saturday's game marks 85th meeting between these two teams, dating back to 1890, and the first since 2006. The series with Purdue is the oldest in Illinois' 116-year history. Purdue was one of two teams played in Illinois' inaugural year of college football (the other was Illinois-Wesleyan, which ended in 1912).
  • Illinois leads the series, 41-37-6 overall, and it is deadlocked at 19-19-
  • in West Lafayette. The Boilers have won the last four meetings, including a 42-31 win in 2006 in Champaign and a 37-3 win in 2005, the last time the Illini traveled to West Lafayette.
  • This will be Ron Zook's third contest vs. Purdue, carrying a 0-2 record vs. the Boilers. Purdue coach Danny Hope is in his first season as Purue's head coach and has yet to face the Illini.


  • In the 2006 meeting against Purdue, Juice Williams rushed for 145 yards as a true freshman, breaking both the single-season and career records for rushing yards by an Illini quarterback.
  • Williams scored the first rushing touchdown of his career on a 13-yard run in the first quarter of the 2006 game against the Boilers.
  • True freshman Travon Bellamy had his second-career interception in the 2006 matchup, returning it 47 yards.
  • The 73 points in the 2006 meeting is the highest combined point total of the Illinois-Purdue series. The previous high was 72 points, a 38-3
  • Illinois victory over Purdue on Oct. 9, 1982 at Memorial Stadium.


  • With 95 receiving yards against Indiana, junior receiver Arrelious Benn became the seventh player in school history to surpass the 2,000-yard mark for career receiving yards. He now has 2,002 career yards, which ranks seventh on the UI all-time list, just behind Jason Dulick's sixth-place total of 2,004.
  • Benn needs 1,457 all-purpose yards to break the school's all-time record. He jumped from ninth to sixth on the Illinois career list last week against Indiana, moving past David Williams (3,195), Red Grange (3,263) and Howard Griffith (3,264) on the list as he now has 3,280 all-purpose yards. Robert Holcombe holds the school record of 4,737 yards.
  • With nine catches at Indiana last Satruday, Benn moved into a tie for sixth with Mike Martin on the UI career receptions with 143 career grabs. Hall of Famer David Williams tops the list by a wide margin (262 catches), but Benn needs 27 catches the rest of the way to jump all the way up to second.
  • Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 895 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 30 of his 31 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.


  • 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 (9,580) and season (3,892)
    • Ranks seventh in total offense in Big Ten history
    • Already holds the Illinois QB rushing records for a career (2,289), season (755) and game (174)
    • Needs 1,435 passing yards to become the school's all-time passing yardage leader
    • Needs one start for the most career starts as a UI quarterback
    • Needs 423 rushing yards to break into the Illinois top-5 all-time career rushing list
    • Needs eight 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 9,580 total yards in his career, which surpassed Kurt Kittner's previous record of 8,880.
  • With 312 total yards last week against Indiana, Williams moved up one spot to seventh on the all-time Big Ten total offense list, jumping past Michigan's Chad Henne (9,300 total yards). With 9,580 total yards, Williams enters this Saturday's game against Purdue needing just 73 yards to catch Purdue's Kyle Orton for sixth place.
  • Williams currently ranks ninth on the Illinois all-time rushing list with 2,289 career yards. He needs 194 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 2,289 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' 239 rushing yards this year already place seventh on the UI single season quarterback rushing list. He already holds the top three spots, including the school record of 755 yards in 2007.
  • With 15 carries against Indiana, Williams moved up to fourth on the Illinois all-time rushing attempts list with 570, passing Thomas Rooks' 560 carries and moving closer to Jim Grabowski's 579 carries for third place.
  • 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.


Juice Williams has led the Illini to 16 wins in his three-plus years as the starter under center at Illinois, which is the fourth in school history. Kurt Kittner (1998-2001) holds the record with 24 wins, one ahead of Jack Trudeau's (1983-85) 23 victories.

  1. Kurt Kittner, 1998-2001 24
  2. Jack Trudeau, 1983-85 23
  3. Jason Verduzco, 1990-92 19
  4. Jeff George, 1988-89 16
    Juice Williams, 2006-09 16
  5. Tony Eason, 1981-82 14


  • Junior safety Garrett Edwards (neck) and junior receiver Jarred Fayson (knee) both missed Saturday's game at Indiana but could return this week against Purdue. Senior safety Donsay Hardeman left the game in the first half with a neck injury and is questionable to return this week and running back Mikel LeShoure missed most of the second half with an ankly injury but should be good to go this week.
  • Earlier in the season, starters Arrelious Benn, Juice Williams and Michael Hoomanawanui all missed significant time due injuries. Benn missed most of the season-opener against Missouri with an ankle injury and then missed part of the Michigan State game with a concussion. Williams missed nearly the entire Illinois State game after straning a quad on the first play of the game. Hoomanawanui injured an ankle early in the Penn State game and did not return and then sat out all of the Michigan State game before returning against Indiana.
  • 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.


  • 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 that has proven to be true thus far. Three of Illinois' opponents are ranked in this week's USA Today coaches poll and two more are receiving votes.
  • Currently, the Sagarin ratings rank Illinois' schedule the 34th-toughest nationally and after seven weeks, Illinois' opponents' record is 50-31 (.617). One team remains undefeated through seven weeks as Cincinnati is 6-0.
  • 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. 6/6 Cincinnati on Nov. 27 and home against 2008 New Mexico Bowl participant Fresno State on Dec. 5.


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 2,289 yards rushing in his three-plus seasons as a quarterback, well ahead of third-place John Clay's total of 1,600 yards. Illini running back Daniel Dufrene ranks fifth with 1,112.

  1. Evan Royster, RB, Jr., Penn State - 2,390
  2. Juice Williams, QB, Sr., Illinois - 2,289
  3. John Clay, RB, So., Wisconsin - 1,600
  4. Brandon Minor, RB, Sr., Michigan - 1,430
  5. Daniel Dufrene, RB, Sr., Illinois - 1,156
  6. Terrelle Pryor, So., Ohio State - 998
  7. Demetrius McCray, Sr., Indiana - 949
  8. Carlos Brown, Sr., Michigan - 881
  9. Duane Bennett, So., Minnesota - 874
  10. Stephfon Green, So., Penn State - 826
  11. Adam Weber, Sr., Minnesota - 821


  • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure rushed for a career-high 78 yards against Indiana before missing most of the second half with an ankle injury. Leshoure is Illinois' touchdown scoring leader this season with three scores (18 points).
  • Quarterback Juice Williams had his best game of the season last week at Indiana, completing 22 of 37 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 5
  • yards.
  • 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 1,156 yards, which ranks 29th on the UI career rushing list.
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.2 yards per carry through six games, including an outstanding success rate of 8.2 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The fivesome of Ford, Daniel Dufrene (5.1), Mikel LeShoure (5.6), Troy Pollard (6.4) and Justin Green (6.9) have rushed for 703 yards on 113 carries. Additionally, only 15 total yards have been lost by Illini running backs this season, which gives them positive yardage on 97.8 percent of their runs.
  • The Illinois offense rolled up 548 total yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, including 38
  • on the ground, the 10th 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.
  • 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.


  • Safety Walter Aikens made his first career start last week at Indiana. Aikens tied for the team lead with seven tackles against the Hoosiers, after recording six stops the week before while seeing his first significant playing time on defense.
  • Illinois' defense held Michigan State scoreless in the second half in the Oct. 10 meeting, 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 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.
  • 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.


  • Illinois ranks 27th in the nation in net punting at 37.5
  • yards.
  • Kick-off specialist Derek Dimke recovered the first fumble of his career after Nate Bussey forced the ball loose on an Indiana kickoff return last week.
  • Punter Anthony Santella is averaging a career-best 40.5 yards per kick this year and is already nearing career-highs in fair catches (has 11, career-high is 13) and 50+ yard kicks (has six, career-high is 7).
  • Arrelious Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 895 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.
  • Illinois has had several different players line-up deep for kickoff returns this season, 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.


  • The Oct. 10 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 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 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. 6 in this week's AP and coaches poll, while Michigan is receiving votes after being ranked No. 22 earlier in the season.
  • 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.


Of Illinois' 15 seniors, only three are back for their fifth seasons. Center Eric Block has 18 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.


  • 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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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



ILLINOIS STATE Jason Ford, RB Doug Pilcher, DL Aaron Gress, LB