Football
Game 10 Notes: #22/21 Michigan at Illinois

 
Illinois and Michigan played a classic triple-overtime game last season at the Big House.
Illinois and Michigan played a classic triple-overtime game last season at the Big House.
 

Nov. 7, 2011

#22/21 MICHIGAN (7-2, 3-2) at ILLINOIS (6-3, 2-3)

Nov. 12, 2011 // 2:36 pm CST // ABC (ESPN mirror)
Champaign, Ill. // Memorial Stadium (60,670)

Complete Illinois Game Notes | Complete Michigan Game Notes

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TELEVISION BROADCAST
The Illinois/Michigan 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. CST. Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Craig James (color analyst) will call the action with Scott Matthews producing and Patrick McManus directing. 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 (113) XM (197) satellite radio.

TICKET INFORMATION
Limited tickets are available for Saturday's game against Michigan 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 Fighting Illini (6-3, 2-3) look to get back to their winning ways this Saturday when No. 22/21 Michigan (7-2,3-2) comes to Memorial Stadium (2:30 pm CST, ABC/ESPN). Illinois is looking to avenge last year's triple-overtime loss to the Wolverines at the Big House.
• The Fighting Illini are coming off a bye weekend heading into Saturday's Michigan game. Illinois has played 27 games after a bye in the modern era and is 11-16 in those contests.
• After a 6-0 start, the program's best since the 1951 national championship team started 7-0, the Illini have dropped three straight low-scoring affairs to Ohio State (17-7), Purdue (21-14) and Penn State (10-7). Illinois has out-gained its opponent in all three losses, but eight turnovers in those games have proven costly.
• The Illinois defense has continued to climb the national rankings. The Illini are allowing 280.1 yards per game to rank sixth nationally in total defense, and also rank in the top-15 nationally in passing defense (177.2, eighth), scoring defense (17.2 ppg, 13th) and rushing defense (102.9 ypg, 15th).
• Illinois continues to lead the Big Ten and rank in the top-10 nationally in sacks and tackles for loss. The Illini rank third in the NCAA in sacks (3.4 per game) and sixth in TFLs (8.0 per game).
• All-America candidate and Rotary Lombardi Award semifinalist Whitney Mercilus continues to lead the nation in sacks (11.5), sacks per game (1.28) and forced fumbles (6).
• All-America and Biletnikoff Award candidate A.J. Jenkins leads the Big Ten and ranks in the top-10 nationally in both receiving yards per game (114.4) and receptions per game (7.6). He recently became the seventh Illini to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season with 1,030 on 68 catches.
• Jenkins has 40 catches for 665 yards and five touchdowns in five Big Ten games. His 133.0 yards per game during conference games is more than 20 yards per game better than his closest competitor (Iowa's Marvin McNutt - 111.2 ypg).
• LB Jonathan Brown has been a monster the last three games, totaling 39 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, two PBUs, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
• Sophomore QB Nathan Scheelhaase ranks 25th in the nation and third in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (147.5). He has thrown 25 TDs against just six INTs over the last 16 games. He threw for a career-high 391 yards and three touchdowns to lead Illinois back from an 18-point deficit against Northwestern on Oct. 1.
• Senior PK Derek Dimke has missed just one kick all season, a 42-yarder as time expired at Penn State. Dimke has hit 7-of-8 field goals and all 27 of his PATs this season. For his career he has made 36-of-42 field goals (.857) and all 82 PATs he's attempted.
• Senior RB Jason Ford has 25 career rushing touchdowns, which ties him for second on the UI career list with Robert Holcombe and Thomas Rooks and behind only career leader Howard Griffith (31). He is coming off his fourth career 100-yard game (100 yards on 24 carries at Penn State).
• Six Fighting Illini were recognized on Phil Steele's Midseason All-America Teams, including first-team DE Whitney Mercilus. WR A.J. Jenkins was named to Steele's second team, OT Jeff Allen to the third team and DB Tavon Wilson to the fourth team. QB Nathan Scheelhaase and C Graham Pocic were both named honorable mention All-Americans by Steele.

Whitney Mercilus leads the nation in sacks (11.5) and forced fumbles (6).


QUICK HITS
• With six wins, Illinois is bowl-eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a streak of five straight seasons from 1988-92.
• The Illini defense has allowed just six scores (four TDs and two FGs) following 19 UI turnovers this season.
• Illinois ranks 17th in the nation in third-down efficiency, converting 65-of-133 (.489) third downs this season.
• Illinois is third in the Big Ten and 19th nationally in fewest penalty yards per game (40.0).
• WR A.J. Jenkins has 56.1 percent of Illinois' receiving yards this season, the most in the nation by 10 percent. Western Michigan's Jordan White is second at 46.1 percent.
• Jenkins is tied for second in the nation with four plays of 50+ yards.
• RB Troy Pollard is averaging 8.13 yards per carry, the fifth-highest per carry average in the nation.
• Scheelhaase leads the Big Ten in total offense during conference games (265.4), just ahead of Michigan's Denard Robinson (264.2)
• DE Whitney Mercilus and BAN Michael Buchanan rank 1-2 in the Big Ten in sacks with 11.5 and 6.0, respectively.
• Illinois' non-conference FBS foes have a combined record of 18-6 outside of their losses to the Illini.

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 eighth nationally in yards per game (114.4). He already ranks sixth on the UI single-season receiving yards list with 1,030, putting him within striking distance of David Williams' 27-year-old record of 1,278.
• Jenkins' 268 yards against Northwestern shattered Williams' UI single-game record of 208 and was the third-most receiving yards in a Big Ten conference game and the fourth-most in all games in Big Ten history, while his 328 all-purpose yards against NU were the third-most in school history.
• Jenkins' 450 combined yards against Northwestern (268) and Indiana (182) in back-to-back games marked the most receiving yards in a two-game span in Big Ten history.
• Jenkins' has four scoring plays of 50+ yards this season, which is tied for the second most in the nation. He's had TD receptions of 77, 72, 67 and 50 yards this season. His 16 scrimmage plays of 20+ yards rank fourth nationally.
• 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).
• Nearly 50 percent of Scheelhaase's completions have gone to Jenkins this season (65 of 131 - 49.6 percent), the second-highest percentage in the nation for any QB-WR duo behind Rutgers' Chas Dodd and Mohamed Sanu (56.3).
• Jenkins and Scheelhaase are the most prolific QB-WR combo in the Big Ten over the last two seasons. The Illini duo has connected 116 times, ahead of Michigan State's Kirk Cousins and B.J. Cunningham (101).
• Jenkins has at least one catch in 27 straight games. His 12 catches against Northwestern tied for the third-most in a game in UI history and his 11 catches against Arkansas State tied the most ever in a season-opener by an Illini.
• Jenkins' big 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), seventh in career receiving yardage (2,186) and seventh in career receptions (145). See pages 11-12 for a complete list of Illini records to watch.

SCHEELHAASE KEEPS IMPROVING
• Sophomore QB Nathan Scheelhaase has accounted for 11 of Illinois' 15 touchdowns in the last five games (eight passing, three rushing).
• Scheelhaase has three TD passes of 65-plus yards this season, all to WR A.J. Jenkins, which equals Juice Williams' single-season school-record total from 2006.
• Scheelhaase ranks 25th nationally in passing efficiency (147.5). The Manning and Maxwell Award candidate has improved his completion percentage from 58.7 in 2010 to 63.9 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 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 116-of-219 (52.3 percent) for 1,224 yards, nine TDs and nine INTs for a 105.3 rating in Illinois' nine losses.

ILLINOIS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
• Illinois faces its third top-25 opponent of the season on Saturday as Michigan is ranked No. 22 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Next week's opponent, Wisconsin is also ranked in both polls, No. 16 in the AP and No. 14 in the Coaches.
• The Illini defeated No. 22/18 Arizona State, 17-14, earlier this season, ending a nine-game losing streak to ranked opponents, and then fell at No. 21/19 Penn State, 10-7, on Oct. 29 in their second game against a ranked team this season.
• In the Ron Zook era, the Illini are 4-19 against ranked teams, with three wins coming in the 2007 Rose Bowl season - No. 21 Penn State, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 1 Ohio State - and the other coming earlier this season against No. 22 Arizona State. In his nine-plus years as a head coach, Zook has posted 10 wins over ranked opponents.

MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
• Michigan leads the series by a 67-23-2 advantage overall and holds a 33-12-1 edge in Champaign.
• Illinois has won two of the last three meetings, including a 38-13 win at Memorial Stadium in 2009, the last time the two teams met in Champaign. The 2009 Illini victory was the first against the Wolverines in Champaign since 1983. Illinois has not beaten Michigan in consecutive trips to Champaign since 1955 and '57.
• Last year's meeting in Ann Arbor was an instant classic, with the Wolverines winning a triple-overtime thriller 67-65. The two teams combined for 132 points and 1,237 yards to total offense, both Big Ten records.
• Illini head coach Ron Zook is 2-3 in his career against Michigan, going 2-2 against the Wolverines at Illinois and 0-1 at Florida (2003 Outback Bowl). Michigan head coach Brady Hoke is in his first season with the Wolverines.
• Zook is only the third coach in school history to beat Michigan two or more times in his career. Robert Zuppke (1913-41) defeated the Wolverines nine times and Ray Eliot (1942-59) had eight wins over UM.

Hawthrone's TD-saving run down of Roy Roundtree in 2009 shifted the momentum in Illinois' favor. The Illini went on to win 38-13.


HIGHLIGHTS AGAINST THE WOLVERINES
• Illinois is averaging nearly 50 points and over 520 yards per game in the last three meetings against Michigan. The Illini have scored 45, 38 and 65 the last three times they've face the Wolverines, and have gone over 300 rushing yards in the last two meetings (377 in 2009 and 315 in 2010).
• Illinois' 65 points last season were the most any team has ever scored against Michigan. The previous high was 58 points by Cornell in 1891, while the previous high by a Big Ten Team was 55 by Northwestern in 1958.
• RB Jason Ford ran for 128 yards in the 2009 win over Michigan, including a career-long 79-yard TD scamper, and rushed for 91 yards on just 10 carries against the Wolverines last season, including 62-yard TD run. Ford also had a TD run in Illinois' 45-20 win at the Big House in 2008 as a true-freshman.
• QB Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 101 yards and another score in last year's Michigan game.
• WR Ryan Lankford had his first career TD reception in last year's game at Michigan, hauling in a 33-yard TD from Scheelhaase in the second quarter.
• LB Trulon Henry and DB Patrick Nixon-Youman each had an interception in last year's Michigan game, accounting for two of Illinois five forced turnovers on the day.
• CB Terry Hawthorne got his first career start against Michigan in 2009 as a true-freshman and made a game-changing tackle on the first drive of the third quarter when he ran down Michigan WR Roy Roundtree from behind to save a touchdown. The Illini eventually forced a turnover on downs at their own 1 yard line and then dominated the game from that point on. Following Hawthorne's play and the defensive stand, Illinois marched 99 yards to take control of the game, tying the school record for longest scoring drive.

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 204.0 yards per game (16,732 yards in 82 games) in the last six-plus seasons tops Wisconsin's 203.5 ypg (17,706 yards in 87 games) during that same time span.
• Illinois' 198.4 ypg this season ranks 26th 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 60 percent of Illinois' plays this season have been runs (63.3 percent - 408 rushes in 645 total plays).
• The Illini have led the conference in rushing in three of the last five years (2006, '07 and '10).
• Illinois has produced three NFL running backs in the last five years. Pierre Thomas (Saints) and Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers) have both led their respective teams to the Super Bowl. Mikel Leshoure (Lions), a 2011 second round draft pick, will miss his entire rookie season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during training camp.

CARDIAC KIDS
Illinois is on of just eight teams nationally to have five games decided by one score this season, going 3-2 in those games. The Illini had three consecutive three-point wins against Arizona State, Western Michigan and Northwestern and now has two straight losses by one score, losing at Purdue by seven and at Penn State by three.
• 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 on Sept. 24, 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.
• At Purdue on Oct. 22, the Illini fell behind 21-0 before scoring 14 fourth-quarter points to get within seven. However, Illinois' onside kick attempt in the final minutes was recovered by the Boilers to seal the 21-14 win.
• Illinois was in control most of the way in a snowy game at Penn State, but a Nittany Lion TD with 1:08 remaining gave the hosts a 10-7 lead. The Illini proceeded to march 58 yards on eight plays to get in position to tie the game, but Derek Dimke's game-tying 42-yard field goal hit the right upright and bounced back toward the field as time expired.

ILLINOIS IN THE NCAA RANKINGS
• As a team, Illinois ranks in the top 26 nationally in eight categories: third in sacks (3.43 per game), sixth in tackles for loss (8.0 per game), sixth in total defense (280.1 ypg), eighth in passing defense (177.2), 13th in scoring defense (17.2 ppg), 15th in rushing defense (102.9 ypg), 19th in pass efficiency defense (114.08) and 26th in rushing offense (198.4 ypg).
• DE Whitney Mercilus leads the nation in sacks (11.5) and sacks per game (1.28), is tied for first in forced fumbles (6) and is third in tackles for loss (1.83 per game). He leads the Big Ten in all four categories.
• WR A.J. Jenkins ranks eighth nationally in receiving yards per game (114.44) and is 10th in receptions per game (7.6). He leads the Big Ten in both categories.
• LB Jonathan Brown ranks 15th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten in tackles for loss per game (1.44).
• QB Nathan Scheelhaase ranks 25th nationally and third in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (147.47).

OFFENSIVE NOTES
• Illinois has shown its ball-control ability in 2011, holding the ball an average of 32:13, which ranks 19th nationally and third in the Big Ten in time of possession. Overall, Illinois has had 15 scoring drives last at least 10 plays and 10 last at least five minutes each.
• Illinois is one just five teams in the nation with at least three scoring drives of 95+ yards. Illinois has had scoring drives of 95 (vs. Arkansas State), 95 (vs. Northwestern) and 97 (at Indiana) this season. Georgia Tech, BYU, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss also have three. The Illini also have one 90 yard TD drive, making them one of just nine teams in the nation with at least four 90+ scoring drives.
• 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 strong, 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 at least 360 rushing yards this season and no one has more than 501. Three different Illini have scored at least four TDs on the ground this season.
• QB Nathan Scheelhaase leads the team in rushing with 501 yards, while senior RB Jason Ford is the top Illini running back with 492 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Senior RB Troy Pollard has 390 yards on only 48 carries. His 8.13 yards per carry average is the fifth-highest in the nation.
• Ford has 25 career rushing TDs, tying him with Robert Holcombe and Thomas Rooks for second on the UI career list. He needs just one more to move into second place alone and is six behind Howard Griffith's UI career record of 31. Ford currently ranks 16th on the UI career rushing list (1,854 yards).
• RB Donovonn Young was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after running for 100 yards on 12 carries (8.3 ypc) against Western Michigan on Sept. 24, including a 14-yard TD run. For the season, Young is fourth on the team with 363 rushing yards on 67 carries (5.4 ypc) and is third on the team lead with four rushing TDs.
• Weak-side tackle Jeff Allen anchors the Illini offensive line once again, earning third-team Midseason All-America honors from Phil Steele. The Lombardi and Outland trophy candidate has started every game since the fourth game of his freshman season, giving him a team-high 43 consecutive starts.
• With Allen as the anchor, most of the offensive line is loaded with experience. Junior weak-side G Hugh Thornton, junior C Graham Pocic and senior strong-side G 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 freshmen Michael Heitz and Simon Cvijanovic are splitting time. Heitz started the first eight games, with Cvijanovic earning the start at Penn State.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
• The Illinois defense made huge improvements in 2010 after the arrival of defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and has continued to improve in 2011.

	ILLINOIS' DEFENSIVE IMPROVEMENT IN 2010 and 2011
	Category	        2009 (NR)	2010 (NR)	2011 (NR)
	Rushing Def (ypg)	154.42 (76)	130.8 (32)	102.9 (15)
	Total Def (ypg)	        403.3 (91)	351.3 (38)	280.1 (6)
	Pts Allowed (ppg)	30.2 (96)	23.5 (48)	17.2 (13)
	Pass Eff. Def	        142.77 (103)	128.6 (61)	114.1 (19)
	Passing Def (ypg)	248.83 (100)	220.5 (61)	177.2 (8)

• The defense has allowed just 48 total points (16.0 ppg) and 741 total yards (247.0 ypg) in the last three games, all Illinois losses.
• Illinois had a streak of 21 consecutive games forcing a turnover, which was the longest active streak in the nation, snapped against Ohio State. Since then, the Illini got one fumble recovery at Purdue and forced three turnovers at Penn State to bring the new streak to two games.
• Illinois' defense held Ohio State to only 228 total yards in the Oct. 15 defeat. Both Buckeye touchdowns came on a short field after Illini turnovers. Their two TD drives totaled 34 yards.
• Illinois has given up only six scores and 34 total points after 19 turnovers this season (four TDs and two FGs). Since the start of 2010, the Illini have held opponents to 59 points (five TDs, eight FGs) following 35 turnovers.
• 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 39.0 ppg in its other seven games this season.
• 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).
• Linebacker Jonathan Brown notched a career-high 17 tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks, against Ohio State on Oct. 15, marking the most tackles by an Illini in a game since Brit Miller tallied 17 on Nov. 8, 2008, vs. Western Michigan. He followed that up with a team-high 11 tackles at Purdue on Oct. 22 and then had a monster game at Penn State with 11 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack, two PBUs, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. For the season, Brown leads the team with 69 tackles and is second on the team with 11.5 TFLs.
• Brown was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 19 after a dominant performance in the upset win over Arizona State (7 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, one INT and one PBU).
• Junior DE Whitney Mercilus has become a force on the defensive line this season. He leads the nation in sacks (11.5), sacks per game (1.28) and forced fumbles (6). His 11.5 sacks already rank third on the UI single-season sacks list and put him on pace to break Simeon Rice's school-record of 16 sacks in 1994. His six forced fumbles are already a UI single-season record and his eight career forced fumbles are tied for second all-time at UI.
• Senior DB Tavon Wilson was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and CFPA National Defensive Player of the Week after a big performance at Indiana on Oct. 8. Wilson returned a fumble 66 yards for a TD 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. For the season, Wilson is tied for the team lead with 5 PBUs and has 49 tackles.
• Senior linebacker Ian Thomas is back to the familiar role of middle linebacker for the 2011 season, ranking second on the Illini with 55 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks 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.
• Senior LB Trulon Henry tied for the team lead 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.

THE SPECIAL TEAMS
• Senior PK Derek Dimke was the last perfect kicker of 2011 before missing the game-tying field goal as time expired at Penn State. Prior to that, Dimke had hit all seven of his FG attempts and all 26 PATs. For his career, Dimke has hit 36-of-42 field goals in his career (.857), which ranks fifth nationally among active kickers.
• A Lou Groza Award candidate, Dimke had made 10 straight field goals dating back to the 2010 Texas Bowl prior to the miss at Penn State, which tied for the third-longest streak in school history.
• Dimke is a perfect 82-of-82 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 49 points in 2011, Dimke has raised his career total to 190, which ranks eighth in UI history just ahead of college football legend Red Grange (186). 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 11 touchbacks in 45 kickoffs and has a 63.3-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 43 times for a 37.6-yard average this season, including a long of 66, 15 fair catches and 15 inside the 20, and also had one free kick for 49 yards following a safety. Only 11 of Duvernois' 43 punts have been returned.
• DuVernois is one of just 11 true-freshman starting punters in the nation.

HEADLINES