Nov. 5, 2012
MINNESOTA GAME PROMOTIONS | Promotions Schedule
Honor Our Military Game - First 10,000 fans will receive an American flag as they enter Memorial Stadium
Illini Walk - Noon - Cheer on the Illini as they enter the stadium by walking down First Street
Illini Street Fest - Noon-2:30 p.m. - FREE kids games & inflatables, plus food vendors.
Live Music at Street Fest - 12:30 p.m. - Ryan Ideus and the Feudin' Hillbillies
The Fighting Illini (2-7, 0-5) return home for back-to-back games at Memorial Stadium, starting with a visit from the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-4, 1-4) this Saturday, Nov. 10 (2:30 p.m. CT, BTN).
Senior OT Corey Lewis is one of the feel-good stories of 2012 for the Illini. Lewis saw his first game action since 2009, playing 25 snaps at Ohio State last weekend after missing the last two-and-half years (34 games) recoving from five different knee surgeries. Lewis was a significant contributor in both 2008 and '09 and was expected to start in 2010, but he tore his ACL during 2010 spring ball and has endured multiple other knee injures that have kept him off the field.
Illinois has allowed only two fourth-down conversions this season, tied for the third-fewest in the nation. In terms of percentage, the Illini are ranked 14th nationally in fourth-down defense (33.3 percent).
Illinois ranks 16th nationally in defensive three-and-outs with 4.56 per game. The Illini have forced a three-and-out on 41 drives over the first nine games of 2012. Additionally, the Illini have forced a three-and-out on the opponent's first drive in seven of nine games this season.
Illinois is holding opponents to a third-down conversion rate of just 31.8 percent (35-of-110), which ranks 19th in the nation. On Oct. 27, the Illini held Indiana to just one conversion on 13 third-down plays. Earlier in the season, the Illini held Charleston Southern without a first down on 13 third-down attempts.
Illinois leads the Big Ten and ranks 36th nationally in net punting, averaging 38.5 yards per kick.
Senior STAR Ashante Williams returned a fumble 77 yards for a touchdown at Ohio State on Saturday, his second defensive TD this season. He also had a 60-yard interceptioin return for TD in the season-opening win against Western Michigan. The last Illini to have two defensive scores in a season was CB Christian Morton, who had two pick-sixes in 2001.
Junior LB Jonathan Brown is one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which goes annually to the nation's top linebacker. Brown leads the team with 59 tackles, 9.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks on the season, despite missing the final three quarters of last Saturday's Ohio State game due to injury.
Senior DE Michael Buchanan has six passes defended on the season (5 PBUs and 1 INT), which is tied for the second-most in the nation for a defensive lineman. The Bednarik, Hendricks and Nagurski Award candidate also has 36 tackles, 5.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, four QB hurries and one forced fumble on the season.
LB Mason Monheim leads all Big Ten freshmen and is tied for the team lead in tackles with 59. During conference games, the true-freshman is averaging 8.4 stops per game, which ranks ninth in the Big Ten.
Illinois has faced the 20th-toughest schedule so far this season, as Illini oppponents have a 38-24 record against FBS competition (not including their game against Illinois).
The Last Meeting
November 26, 2011
MINNESOTA SERIES NOTES
This weekend's game between Illinois and Minnesota will be the 66th meeting between the two teams. Minnesota leads the all-time series 34-28-3, but the Illini hold a 16-14-1 margin in Champaign.
The Gophers have won three of the last four and nine of the last 12 meetings, with Illinois pulling out victories in 2009 (35-32 in Minneapolis), 2007 (44-17 in Minneapolis) and 2001 (25-14 in Champaign).
Minnesota has controlled the series in Champaign lately, winning four of the last five meetings in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois' 25-14 win in Champaign in 2001 is its only home win over the Gophers since 1995.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman has never faced Minnesota, but is familiar with Gopher head coach Jerry Kill, as the pair squared off twice in the Mid-American Conference when Beckman coached Toledo and Kill led Northern Illinois. Kill's Huskies won 65-30 in 2010, but Beckman's Rockets took a 20-19 win in 2009, making the pair 1-1 when facing each other.
Illinois special teams coordinator and running backs coach Tim Salem began his collegiate playing career at Minnesota before transferring to Arizona State and earning a degree as a Sun Devil. Salem quarterbacked the Gophers in 1980-81 and broke the Big Ten record for consecutive completions in 1980. Salem's father, Joe, was the head coach at Minnesota from 1979-84.
Illinois has one Minnesota native on its roster: sophomore WR Fritz Rock (Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata).
HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE GOPHERS
In last year's game, LB Jonathan Brown was dominant, collecting 14 tackles and a half-sack against the Gophers in Minneapolis.
CB Terry Hawthorne notched one of his many career highlights against the Gophers, sealing Illinois' 35-32 victory in 2009 with a 44-yard interception return for touchdown. In his career, he has eight tackles, a half-TFL, three PBUs and an interception in two games against Minnesota. He missed the 2010 game with an injury.
WR Spencer Harris recorded his first career touchdown against Minnesota in 2010, a 17-yarder.
CB Justin Green had a two-yard touchdown run against the Gophers while playing running back in 2009. He switched to defense in 2010 and recorded 10 tackles and a half-TFL against Minnesota.
DT Glenn Foster had seven tackles and 1.5 TFLs against Minnesota in 2011.
TE Matt LaCosse caught an 11-yard pass in last year's game against Minnesota, his first career reception.
WR Ryan Lankford, who also is a rugby-style punter, booted nine punts for 377 yards, a 41.9-yard average, with a long of 59, four punts over 50 yards and three downed inside the 20 in last year's game in Minneapolis.
S Patrick Nixon-Youman had a career game against the Gophers last year, posting a career-high 10 tackles.
Complete Illinois-Minnesota Game Notes