Game 8: Illinois vs. Purdue Game Notes

Patrick Nixon-Youman had the first of two Illinois pick-sixes last week against Indiana
Patrick Nixon-Youman had the first of two Illinois pick-sixes last week against Indiana

Oct. 25, 2010

Complete Illinois-Purdue Game NotesGet Acrobat Reader

GAME 8: Purdue (4-3, 2-1) at Illinois (4-3, 2-2)

Oct. 30, 2010 // 11 a.m. CT kickoff // ESPN2
Champaign, Ill. // Memorial Stadium (62,870)

The Illinois/Purdue game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with an air time of 11 a.m. CT. Dave Pasch (play-by-play) and Bob Griese (color analyst) will call the action with Bart Fox producing.

The 41-station Illini Sports Network will carry the radio broadcast with the pregame show beginning at 10:30 a.m. CT. 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 (91) & XM (197) satellite radio.

Tickets are available for Saturday's game against Purdue and can be purchased at the UI Athletic Ticket Office at Assembly Hall, by calling 1-866-ILLINI-1 or online at


• The Fighting Illini will look to for win number five this Saturday when Purdue comes to Memorial Stadium to battle for the "Cannon" rivalry trophy. Illinois is looking for its second-straight win after topping Indiana 43-13 last week.
• Illinois has faced the toughest schedule in the nation thus far according to the official NCAA schedule strength rankings. Illinois' opponents have a combined record of 35-9 this season vs. Division I opponents (not counting their game vs. Illinois).
• Illinois' three losses this season (Missouri, Ohio State and Michigan State) have a combined record of 22-1, with all three teams ranked in the top-11 of the Oct. 24 BCS standings. Illinois led two of the three games at halftime (Missouri and Michigan State), and was on the verge of tying Ohio State late in the game before falling short in the red zone late in the fourth quarter.
• The Illinois defense has made big strides this year under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Illinois currently ranks 15th nationally in points allowed (17.7 ppg), 19th in rushing yards allowed (112.4 ypg) and 23rd in total defense (315.1 ypg). At the end of last season, the Orange and Blue ranked 96th in scoring defense (30.2 ppg), 76th in rushing defense (154.4 ypg) and 91st in total defense (403.3 ypg).
• The Fighting Illini have yet to allow more than 26 points in a game this season despite facing the nation's toughest schedule. Illinois held the high-powered offenses of Missouri (23) and Michigan State (26) to season-low point totals and also held an Ohio State offense averaging 49.3 points per game to 24 points and an Indiana offense averaging 34.2 ppg to 13.
• The Illini defense has allowed just eight touchdowns on 25 opponent red zone trips (32.0 percent) and ranks third in the nation in red zone touchdown percentage defense behind only Alabama (30.4 percent) and West Virginia (30.8 percent).
• Illinois' defense has held its opposition to under 100 yards rushing four times in seven games this season (98 vs. Missouri, 46 vs. SIU, 65 at Penn St., 93 at Michigan St.) and seven times in the last two seasons. Through seven games, the Illini are allowing 112.4 ypg on the ground, which ranks 19th in the nation.
• Illinois ranks third in the nation in red zone scoring percentage, picking up points on 22 of its 23 trips inside the 20 this season (96 percent). The Illini have 11 touchdowns and 11 field goals in the red zone so far this season. The only time the Illini didn't convert a red zone trip into points was when the second half clock ran out at Michigan State with the Illini inside the 20.
• Doak Walker Award candidate Mikel Leshoure has topped the 100-yard mark in four games this season and in seven of Illinois' last 13 games dating back to last season. So far this season, Leshoure ranks third in the Big Ten and 14th in the nation in rushing with 108.4 ypg.
• Junior linebacker Martez Wilson leads Illinois and ranks in second in the Big Ten in tackles (9.1 tpg) and also ranks second on the team in tackles for loss (5.5) and sacks (2.0). Wilson has led the Illini in tackles in four of the last five games, posting 11 stops against Northern Illinois, nine against Ohio State and 12 each in the wins at Penn State and vs. Indiana.
• Redshirt-freshman QB Nathan Scheelhaase was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the third time this season after leading the Illini to the 43-13 win over Indiana last week. Scheelhaase was 13-of-21 for 123 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and also rushed six times for 45 yards (7.5 ypc).
• Ray Guy Award and Campbell Award candidate Anthony Santella ranks fifth in the nation with an average of 46.5 yards on 33 punts. As a team, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in net punting (41.45 ypk).

Illinois and Purdue will battle for the coveted "Cannon" on Saturday

• This week Illinois and Purdue will play for the coveted "Cannon." Purdue leads the traditional trophy series by a 30-25-2 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 seven years. The two teams did not meet in 2007 and 2008.
• The "Cannon" is one of three rivalry trophies for the Illini along with the Illibuck (Ohio State) and the Land of Lincoln Trophy (Northwestern).

• Saturday's game marks 86th meeting between the Illini and Boilers, dating back to 1890. The series with Purdue is the oldest in Illinois' 120-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 41-38-6 overall and 22-18-2 in Champaign. The Boilers have won the last five meetings, including a 42-31 win in 2006, the last time the two teams met in Champaign. Last season, Purdue won 24-14 in West Lafayette after the series took a two-year hiatus in 2007 and '08.
• This will be Ron Zook's fourth contest vs. Purdue, who is the only Big Ten team he has not beaten during his six seasons at Illinois, as he carries a 0-3 record vs. the Boilers. PU coach Danny Hope is in his second season with the Boilermakers and is 1-0 against the Illini.

• Junior Mikel Leshoure ran for what was then a career-high 122 yards on 15 carries (8.1 ypc), including a 65-yard touchdown, in last year's game in West Lafayette. It was Leshoure's first career 100-yard game. He has had six more 100-yard games since then.
• Junior kicker Derek Dimke scored his first career point in the third quarter of last year's game at Purdue when he nailed an extra point. Since that game, Dimke has connected on 19-of-21 field goals and all 28 of his extra points.
• Sophomore receiver Jack Ramsey caught three passes for a career-high 44 yards in the 2009 meeting with Purdue as a redshirt-freshman.
• Senior punter Anthony Santella pinned the Boilers inside the 20 on four of five punts last year and averaged 44.8 yards per kick in the game.
• Current senior Travon Bellamy had his second-career interception in the 2006 matchup as a true-freshman, returning it 47 yards.
• The last time to the two teams met in Champaign in 2006 they combined for 73 points, marking the highest combined point total of the Illinois-Purdue series.

The Illini defense was all over Indiana QB Ben Chappell last week

The Illini `D' has held some of the top offenses in the nation in check this season:
• Illinois forced five turnovers, including four interceptions, and blocked two punts against Indiana on Oct. 23. The Hoosiers entered the game with the nation's fifth-ranked passing offense, but were held 40 yards below their average of 319 yards per game. The Illini also limited IU WR/KR Tandon Doss, who entered the game ranked first in the nation in all-purpose yards (202 ypg) to just 90 yards.
• The UI defense held No. 13 Michigan State 179 total yards below its season average and 132 yards below its rushing average. The Spartans were averaging 473 total yards per game and 225 yards on the ground - which both ranked in the top 15 in the nation - but were held to season-low totals of 294 total yards and 93 rushing yards by the Orange and Blue.
• In Illinois' 33-13 win at Penn State on Oct. 9, the defense held PSU to season lows of seven first downs, 235 total yards, 2-of-14 third-down conversions and 21:48 time of possession, and kept the Nittany Lions to only 65 rushing yards. Penn State had been averaging 138.2 yards per game on the ground entering the game. PSU's seven first downs marked its fewest since gaining six first downs against Iowa in 2004.
• On Oct. 2, No. 2 Ohio State came to town ranked third in the nation in scoring (49.3 ppg) and eighth in total offense (506.8 ypg), but managed just 24 points and 290 total yards against the stingy Illini defense.
• The Illini held the Buckeyes to just 77 yards passing in the game, marking the third-straight year they have held OSU, and Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor, to under 100 yards passing (49 yards in 2008 and 82 yards in 2009). Pryor piled up 334 yards passing in Ohio State's next game against Indiana on Oct. 2.
• The UI defense held NIU running back Chad Spann to just 15 yards on 13 carries. Spann currently ranks 17th in the nation, averaging 106.8 ypg, and racked up 223 yards on 15 carries against Minnesota on Sept. 25, one week after the Fighting Illini shut him down.

• During the Ron Zook era (since 2005), Illinois leads the conference in rushing yards per game. The Illini's 196.3 yards per game (13,151 yards in 67 games) in the last 5+ seasons tops Wisconsin's 192.7 ypg (14,065 yards in 73 games) during that same time span.
• Illinois has posted three games of 200+ rushing yards this season, including a season-high 319-yard effort against Northern Illinois on Sept. 18 and 282 yards on the ground at Penn State on Oct. 9.
Mikel Leshoure has run for 1,328 yards on 223 carries (6.0 ypc) since the mid-point of last season (13 games). Among Big Ten players, only Wisconsin's John Clay (1,567 yards on 272 carries, 5.8 ypc) has more rushing yardage since Oct. 24 of last season.
• The Illini led the conference in rushing yards per game in 2006 and 2007, and were second in 2009. So far this season, Illinois is averaging 195.43 ypg on the ground, which ranks 27th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten.
• The Fighting Illini averaged 200.4 yards per game on the ground in 2009, ranking 17th in the nation and marking the third time under head coach Ron Zook that the Illini averaged over 200 yards rushing as a team. It also marked the third time in the last five years that Illinois finished the season ranked among the NCAA Top 20.
• Leshoure's 6.8 yards per carry in 2009 led all BCS conference players with at least 100 attempts, and he and teammate Jason Ford (6.1 ypc) ranked 1-2 in the Big Ten in that category last season.

• On the Mend: The injury bug hit the Illini hard heading into the 2010 season. Two probable starters are out for the season in OL Corey Lewis, who tore his left ACL during spring ball, and safety Supo Sanni, who ruptured his right Achilles in practice on Aug. 25. In addition, FS Steve Hull (ankle) has missed the last three games after being injured against Ohio State and is questionable for this week's game, as is RB Jason Ford (ankle), who sprained his ankle against Indiana last week.
• They're Back: Sophomore CB Terry Hawthorne (foot) missed the first four games of this season before returning to action Oct. 9 at Penn State. Senior WR Eddie McGee (missed NIU game with ankle injury) and bandit Nate Palmer (missed first three games with a toe injury) both returned against Ohio State after missing time earlier in the season. Junior FB/TE Zach Becker (feet) returned to action at Michigan State after missing the first five games and was in the starting lineup last week vs. Indiana.
• A pair of Illini defenders have returned from season-ending injuries last season. Linebacker Martez Wilson missed 11 games with a neck injury last season and received a medical redshirt, while cornerback Miami Thomas suffered a knee injury in training camp last year, missing the entire season. Both players went through preseason training camp without further issues. Wilson returned to action in the season-opener and has registered a team-high 64 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks, three pass break-ups, two QB Hurries and one blocked punt through seven games this season. Thomas saw his first action of the season in the Sept. 18 game vs. NIU.

• The Illini defense has been much improved over last season. In the first seven games of 2009, the Illini allowed 2,911 total yards (415.9 ypg), 1,297 rushing yards (183.3 ypg) and 194 points (27.7 ppg). In seven games this season, the Illini have allowed 2,206 yards (315.1 ypg), 787 rushing yards (112.4 ypg) and 124 points (17.7 ppg).

	Category	2009 (Final Nat'l Rank)	2010 (Cur. Nat'l Rank)
	Points Allowed (ppg)	30.2 (96)	17.7 (15)
	Rushing Defense (ypg)	154.42 (76)	112.4 (19)
	Total Defense (ypg)	403.3 (91)	315.1 (23)
	Pass Efficiency Defense	142.77 (103)	116.52 (34)
	Passing Defense (ypg)	248.83 (100)	202.7 (57)
• The Illini's defensive turnaround this season is even more impressive when field position is taken into account. Opponents have started 14 drives in plus territory but the UI defense has allowed just one touchdown and seven field goals on those 14 drives.
• The Orange and Blue defense also has been stingy after turnovers. Following the 15 Illini turnovers, the defense has allowed just 25 points (1 TD and 6 field goals).
• Illinois' defense forced five turnovers last week against Indiana (four interceptions and one fumble). It marked the first time in eight years that Illinois forced five turnovers in a game (five vs. Northwestern on Nov. 23, 2002). The Illini converted the five turnovers into 24 points (three touchdowns and 1 field goal).
• Two of the Illini INTs vs. the Hoosiers resulted in touchdowns. Patrick Nixon-Youman scored on a 68-yard interception return in the second quarter and Jonathan Brown scored on a 66-yard interception return in the fourth, marking the first time Illinois has had two pick-sixes in a game since Bobby Jackson and Christian Morton both returned INTs for touchdowns at Purdue in 2001.
• Defensive tackle Corey Liuget has been a beast all season and especially lately. Against Indiana, he had five tackles, one sack and five QB hurries while helping the defense force five turnovers. The week before at Michigan State, Liuget registered a career-high 11 tackles, marking the most tackles in a game by an Illini defensive lineman since DE Mike O'Brien had 12 stop vs. Missouri in 2002 and the most for a DT since Paul Marshall had 11 at Minnesota in 1996.
• Liuget dropped 30 pounds in the offseason to get down to 285 in hopes of being more mobile and harder to block. It seems to have paid off, as Liuget has 34 tackles, a team-high 7.0 TFLs and 3.0 sacks this season to go along with a team-high nine hurries and two PBUs.
• LB Nate Bussey had a career day for the Orange and Blue against Penn State, returning an interception 16 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and also tying his career high with eight tackles. Last week against Indiana, Bussey blocked the first punt of his career leading to an Illini safety. Bussey is third on the team in both tackles (6.3 tpg) and tackles for loss (4.5).
• Senior CB Travon Bellamy has saved his best season for last. Bellamy stepped up big when Terry Hawthorne missed the first four games with an injury and hasn't let up. His 6.1 tackles per game are fourth on the team and he already has eclipsed his previous season career-highs of 4.0 tackles for loss and five pass break-ups.
Trulon Henry recorded a pair of interceptions in the 24-13 loss to the Buckeyes. He intercepted a Terrelle Pryor pass in the second quarter and picked off a Joe Bauserman pass in the third quarter. Henry became the first Illini defender in six years to tally two INTs in a game (Kelvin Hayden vs. Florida A&M in 2004).
• The three points allowed to Southern Illinois on Sept. 11 mark the lowest point total allowed by an Illinois team since shutting out Western Illinois on Sept. 8, 2007.

Freshman TE Evan Wilson had a 29-yard TD reception vs. the Hoosiers

• Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week three times already this season. First on Sept. 13 following his 14-of-18, 229 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT performance against SIU, then again on Oct. 11 after his 15-of-19, 151 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT game at Penn State and most recently on Oct. 25 following his 13-of-21, 123 yard, 2 TD, 0 INT game in the win over Indiana.
• Scheelhaase's 221.31 passer rating for the SIU game is the sixth-highest single-game efficiency rating in school history and his 115 rushing yards against NIU is the seventh-best rushing game by a QB in UI history.
• When Scheelhaase took the field for the first play against Missouri, he became just the third redshirt-freshman in Illinois history to start a season opener. Scott Weaver (1993) and Rich Weiss (1978) are the only other two redshirt-freshmen to take the first snap of a season.
• New offensive coordinator Paul Petrino's offense has shown its ball control-capabilities during the first half of this season. The team's opening drive of the year was a 17-play, 9:14 monster that resulted in a 21-yard field goal. The drive exceeded last year's longest drive by 1:54 and also tied last year's longest drive in terms of plays. Through seven games, Illinois has 18 scoring drives of 8+ plays and 15 scoring drives of 4+ minutes.
• The Illini offense was dominant in the win over Penn State on Oct. 9, gaining a season-high 437 yards, including 282 rushing yards. It was the third time this year that Illinois has rushed for 200+ yards and was the most rushing yards that PSU had allowed since Minnesota rolled up 288 rushing yards in 2004.
• Junior running back Mikel Leshoure has taken on a bigger load for the Illini offense this season. He had a career-high 27 carries for 119 yards against the Nittany Lions and is now averaging 20.4 carries per game this season. Entering the season, Leshoure had carried the ball 20+ times just once (21 carries vs. Michigan in 2009). In 2010, he has four 20+-carry games already and is still averaging a robust 5.3 yard per carry for the season.
• Leshoure had a string of four straight 100-yard games snapped earlier this season by Ohio State, a streak that tied him with J.C. Caroline and Robert Holcombe for the most consecutive 100+ rushing efforts in school history. His four 100+-yard games this season and seven career 100+-yard games are both tied for the 10th-most in school history.
• Junior receiver A.J. Jenkins tallied a career-high seven receptions for 76 yards, including an 18-yard TD, in the win at Penn State. Jenkins leads the Illini with 363 yards and three touchdowns on 27 catches so far this season.
• Junior running back Jason Ford had a four-yard touchdown pass to freshman Evan Wilson in the third quarter against Penn State, Ford's first career pass and Wilson's first career TD catch. It marked the first time an Illini non-quarterback threw a TD pass since Oct. 7, 2006, at Michigan State, when WR DaJuan Warren threw a 27-yard TD to Jody Ellis.
• Ford also had nine carries for 47 yards against PSU, pushing him over 1,000 career yards. He is the 37th player in Illinois history to surpass 1,000 career yards and currently has 1,056 yards.
• Junior running back Troy Pollard had a season-high eight carries for 55 yards against PSU, including a long of 20 yards. It marked his most productive rushing game since he posted a career-best 92 yards at Syracuse in 2007.
• Senior WR Jarred Fayson had a breakout game for the Illini against Ohio State, catching eight passes for 83 yards, setting career highs in both categories. Fayson also completed the first pass of his career, throwing a 23-yarder to quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase in the first quarter, and downed a punt on the one yard line on special teams. Fayson also had a 17-yard touchdown reception last week against Indiana, his first TD of the season. Fayson leads the team with 28 catches through seven games, which 20 of those grabs coming in the last four games.
• Weak-side tackle Jeff Allen anchors the Illini offensive line once again. The junior has started every game since the fourth game of his freshman season, giving him a team-high 28 consecutive starts.

• Illinois blocked two punts against the Hoosiers last week. Both came in the third quarter on back-to-back possessions, first by Martez Wilson and then by Nate Bussey. Bussey's occurred in the end zone, resulting in a safety. That marked the first safety by the Illini since Oct. 16, 2004, vs. Michigan.
• Junior Troy Pollard had a big day returning kicks against Indiana. Pollard took back three kickoffs for 92 yards (30.7 ypr) against the Hoosiers, including an Illinois season-long 44-yarder in the second quarter. Pollard is averaging 25.2 yards on eight returns this season and ranks fifth in the Big Ten with a 26.1 average during conference games.
• Junior kicker Derek Dimke has been outstanding, connecting on 14-of-16 field goals, including two from 50+, and 17-of-17 extra points this season. He had made 10 straight field goals, the third-longest streak in school history, until missing a 51-yarder against Indiana last week. For his career, Dimke has connected on 19-of-21 field goals and is a perfect 29-of-29 on extra points since taking over placekicking duties late last season.
• Dimke was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after going 4-for-4 on field goals against Penn State Oct. 9, hitting from 50, 31, 41 and 38 yards. His 52-yard field goal against Missouri in the season-opener tied the sixth-longest field goal in school history and was the longest by an Illini since 2005. Dimke is currently tied for third in the nation with an average of 2.0 made field goals per game.
• In addition to his field goal success, Dimke also has excelled on kickoffs. He has booted 15 touchbacks and has a 65.9 yard average in 37 kickoffs this season, already exceeding last year's season total of 12 touchbacks. This marks Dimke's third year as the Illini kickoff specialist, as he took over duties midway through his freshman season.
• Senior punter Anthony Santella is having a stellar final season. He had a career-best 50.8 average on five punts against SIU, equaling the fifth-best single-game punting average in school history, then booted six punts against NIU for a 48.7 average, including a career-long 67-yarder, and has not let up since. Santella currently ranks fifth in the nation with a 46.5 average on 33 punts.
• Santella has vastly improved in each of his four seasons. He's gone from averaging 37.7 yards per punt in 2007 to 39.4 in 2008, 41.3 in 2009 and now 46.5 so far this season. He currently ranks fourth in the Illinois record books in career punting average (40.5), fourth in career yardage (8,406) and fifth in career punts (208).
• The Illini special teams returned a fairly intact group from a year ago as four-year starting punter Anthony Santella and experienced junior kickers Matt Eller and Derek Dimke all returned. The only change to the unit is sophomore long snapper Zak Pedersen, who saw his first action in the season opener against Missouri.

• With Illinois' win at Penn State on Oct. 9, Illini coach Ron Zook became just the sixth coach ever to defeat both Penn State's Joe Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden on the road. Zook defeated Bowden's Seminoles in 2004 while coaching at Florida. He joins Larry Coker (Miami), Foge Fazio (Pitt), Dennis Erickson (Miami), Tom O'Brien (Boston College) and Howard Schnellenberger (Miami) as the only coaches to defeat the two winningest coaches in college football history on the road. (source Stats, Inc.)
• The win at Penn State also made Zook just the fourth coach to ever post road victories at Ohio State, at Michigan and at Penn State in a career. Zook joins former Big Ten coaches Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Hayden Fry (Iowa) and Glen Mason (Minnesota) on the exclusive list.
• Zook, the 2007 Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year, is in his sixth season as the Illinois head coach. Entering Saturday's game against Purdue, Zook has an overall head coaching record of 48-56 in eight-plus seasons at Florida and Illinois combined and is 25-42 in five-plus seasons at Illinois.
• Illinois picked up its first win at Penn State with the 33-13 victory on Oct. 9 after entering the game 0-6 all-time in Happy Valley. The Illini also handed the Nittany Lions their biggest Homecoming defeat since they fell by 20 to Navy in 1955.
• Nineteen Illini, including eight true-freshmen, have made their Fighting Illini debuts this season. True-freshmen LB Jonathan Brown, bandit Brandon Denmark, WR Spencer Harris, WR Ryan Lankford, WR Darius Millines, QB Miles Osei, FB Jay Prosch and TE Evan Wilson all have seen action this season. In addition, two transfers: FS Trulon Henry and FB Chris Willett; seven redshirt-freshmen: RB Bud Golden, FS Steve Hull, DE Tim Kynard, TE Justin Lattimore, FS Ben Mathis, QB Nathan Scheelhaase and DT Akeem Spence; and two sophomores: LS Zak Pedersen and TE Eddie Viliunas all have seen the field for the first time in their UI careers this season.
• Attendance at the Oct. 2 game against Ohio State was 62,870, marking the first sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium this season, the 73rd in school history and the 10th since 2007.
• In five-plus seasons, Zook-coached teams have defeated nine of the 10 teams in the Big Ten at least once, including wins over No. 1 Ohio State, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 19 Penn State in 2007. The only opponent that has eluded the Illini in the past five years is Purdue, who was off the schedule in 2007 and 2008.
• After this year's 35-3 home-opening win over Southern Illinois on Sept. 11, Illinois has won 13 straight home openers and improved to 83-33-5 all-time in the first home game of the season.

• Junior running back Mikel Leshoure went over the 1,600-yard career rushing mark with his 77 yards on the ground against Indiana last week, becoming the 18th Illini player to do so. He enters this weekend's contest with 1,617 yards, which puts him 18th on the UI career rushing list and fourth among active Big Ten players.
• Fellow junior Jason Ford also recently passed 1,000 career rushing yards, becoming the 37th Illini player to reach the mark with 47 yards during the Oct. 9 win at Penn State. Ford now has 1,058 yards for his career, a total that ranks 13th among active Big Ten players.

Illinois senior punter Anthony Santella is on the list of semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy - formerly named the Draddy Trophy - which is given annually to a senior or graduate student in his final year of eligibility who has outstanding football ability and has demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. It the fourth-straight year that an Illini player has been named a semifinalist, as former Illini J Leman (2007), Ryan McDonald (2008) and Jon Asamoah (2009) all were named to the National Scholar-Athlete Class. Santella graduated with a bachelor's degree in sport management in May 2010 with a 3.54 GPA on a 4.0 scale and currently is pursuing a master's degree in the same field.

The coaching staff designates different team captains for each game week throughout the season. Here is a list of this year's game captains:
• MISSOURI: LB Nate Bussey, OL Randall Hunt, WR Eddie McGee, DL Clay Nurse
• SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: OL Jeff Allen, LB Nate Bussey, WR Jarred Fayson, DL Clay Nurse
• NORTHERN ILLINOIS: OL Jeff Allen, WR Jarred Fayson, LB Ian Thomas, DB Tavon Wilson
• OHIO STATE: OL Jeff Allen, WR Jarred Fayson, DL Corey Liuget, LB Martez Wilson
• PENN STATE: OL Randall Hunt, RB Mikel Leshoure, DL Corey Liuget, LB Martez Wilson
• MICHIGAN STATE: OL Jeff Allen, RB Mikel Leshoure, DL Corey Liuget, LB Martez Wilson
• INDIANA: OL Jeff Allen, DL Corey Liuget, WR Eddie McGee, LB Martez Wilson
• PURDUE: OL Jeff Allen, DL Corey Liuget, WR Eddie McGee, LB Martez Wilson

Following each Illini victory, the coaching staff names a player of the game for each of the three phases.

GAME	            OFFENSE	              DEFENSE	          SPECIAL TEAMS
Southern Illinois   Nathan Scheelhaase, QB    Ian Thomas, LB	  Anthony Santella, P
Northern Illinois   Mikel Leshoure, RB	      Martez Wilson, LB	  Derek Dimke, PK
Penn State	    Mikel Leshoure, RB	      Nate Bussey, LB	  Derek Dimke, PK
Indiana	            Graham Pocic, C	      Entire Unit         M. Wilson/N. Bussey/T. Pollard