Game 10: Illinois (3-6, 2-5) vs. Northwestern (6-4, 3-3)

DL Clay Nurse made life miserable last Saturday for the Minnesota offense, tallying four sacks.
DL Clay Nurse made life miserable last Saturday for the Minnesota offense, tallying four sacks.

Nov. 9, 2009

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  • This Saturday's game against Northwestern marks the 103rd meeting between the two teams and is the first for the newly created Land of Lincoln rivalry trophy.
  • Illinois' 35-32 win at Minnesota last week was the second straight for Illini, marking the first time the Illini have posted back-to-back wins since beating Eastern Illinois and Louisiana-Lafayette in September of last season and the first time they've won back-to-back Big Ten games since beating Ohio State and Northwestern to close out the 2007 Rose Bowl season.
  • The Illinois defense dominated the line of scrimmage against the Gophers, racking up seven sacks and eight tackles for loss, both season-highs. The seven sacks are the most by the Illini defense since it had seven at Indiana on 9/22/07.
  • Defensive end Clay Nurse had a career day against the Gophers with four sacks for a loss of 28 yards and seven total tackles, both career-highs. His four sacks tie him for the second most by an Illini in a single game behind only Simeon Rice's five sacks against Northwestern on 9/1/94 and are the most since Will Davis had four sacks against Indiana on 9/22/07.
  • The Illinois offense has exploded for 851 combined total yards in the last two weeks, including 500 total yards against Michigan two weeks ago.
  • The Illini gained 406 of their 500 yards of offense against Michigan in the second half, marking the most yards gained by at UI team in the second half in recorded history, surpassing the old mark of 393 vs. Arkansas State in 2002. In addition, 312 of Illinois' 377 rushing yards against the Wolverines came in the second half, breaking the UI record for most rushing yards in any half in recorded history. The old mark was 255 in the first half at Minnesota on Nov. 3, 2007.
  • Bolstered by rushing performances of 384 yards against Illinois State on 9/12 and 377 yards against Michigan on Oct. 31, the Illini rank 25th in the nation and fourth the Big Ten in rushing yardage per game (188.1).
  • Illinois running backs are averaging 6.2 yards per carry through nine games, including an outstanding success rate of 7.2 yards per rush by sophomore Jason Ford. The quintet of Ford, Mikel LeShoure (6.1), Troy Pollard (6.4), Justin Green (6.2) and Daniel Dufrene (4.8) have rushed for 1,231 yards on 199 carries.
  • Senior quarterback Juice Williams had 63 total yards against Minnesota last week before leaving the game with an injury to move within 22 yards of 10,000 for his career. He is trying to become the first player in school history and just the sixth in Big Ten history to reach that milestone. Williams currently ranks sixth on the all-time Big Ten total offense list with 9,978 yards and needs 276 total yards to catch Iowa's Chuck Long for fifth (10,254 yards).
  • Williams moved into third on the Illinois all-time passing yardage list with his 53 yards against Minnesota. He now has 7,544 career passing yards, moving past Jason Verduzco's total of 7,532. Williams also moved past Verduzco (1,083) for third on the all-time UI pass attempts list with 1,086.
  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn now sits alone in fifth place on the Illinois career receptions list with 150 catches. His career receiving yardage total of 2,070 ranks sixth all-time in the UI record book.
  • With 41 yards against Minnesota, Benn moved past Chubby Phillips (3,380) into fifth place on the Illinois career all-purpose yards list with 3,391. Thomas Rooks is next on the list, with 3,501 yards from 1982-85.
  • Six true freshman have played for the Illini this year - Walter Aikens, Michael Buchanan, Justin Green, Terry Hawthorne, Hugh Thornton and Joelil Thrash. In addition, two transfers, Jarred Fayson and Aaron Gress, and 11 redshirt-freshmen, Jacob Charest, London Davis, Graham Pocic, Glenn Foster, Evan Frierson, Whitney Mercilus, Nate Palmer, Jack Ramsey, Tyler Sands, Justin Staples and Ashante Williams have made their Fighting Illini debuts this season.


  • Saturday's game will be the 103rd meeting between Illinois and Northwestern. llinois leads the series, 52-45-5 overall and 25-19-2 in Champaign.
  • The Wilcats topped the Illini 27-10 last season in Evanston, while the Illini won the last meting in Champaign, 41-22, in 2007.
  • This will be Ron Zook's fifth head-to-head contest against Northwestern. He is 1-3 vs. the Wildcats. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald is 2-1 against the Illini in his first three seasons as head coach.
  • Northwestern Offensive Line Coach and Recruiting Coordinator Adam Cushing is the brother of former Illinois tight end Matt Cushing.


  • This week Illinois and Northwestern will play for the "Land of Lincoln" trophy in a game that marks the start of a new trophy rivalry. The Land of Lincoln Trophy was chosen by fans of both schools in an online vote to replace the 62-year old Tomahawk Trophy.
  • Illinois and Northwestern played for the "Sweet Sioux" Tomahawk from 1947-2008. Illinois led the traditional trophy series by a 32-28-2 mark, but Northwestern won the final meeting for the Tomahawk with its 27-10 win last season.


  • Quarterback Juice Williams has put up impressive numbers against Northwestern in the last two seasons. He's hit 35-of-59 passes (59.3 percent) for 432 yards and a touchdown and has also rushed for 230 yards on 48 carries (4.8 ypc) and two touchdowns. In the 2007 Illini win over the Wildcats, Williams rushed for 136 yards, the third highest single-game total by an Illinois quarterback in school history.
  • Jeff Cumberland has put together back-to-back big games against the Wildcats. In 2007 he had four catches for a career-high 131 yards and one touchdown and then last season he had a career-high five catches for 60 yards against NU.
  • During the two team's last meeting in Champaign Illinois rolled up 541 total yards and 321 yards rushing, holding the ball for over 38 minutes.


  • True freshman Terry Hawthorne got his first career start at cornerback against Michigan two weeks ago and recorded a career-high six tackles, including a game-changing, touchdown-saving tackle at the one-yard line on the Wolverine's first drive of the third quarter. Hawthorne chased down UM receiver Roy Roundtree from behind, turning what would have been a 77-yard touchdown and a 20-7 Michigan lead into a 76-yard pass play and a first-and-goal at the one-yard line.
  • Hawthorne's hustle sparked his teammates and the over 60,000 Illini faithful at Memorial Stadium as the Illinois defense followed up with a dramatic goalline stand, forcing Michigan to turn the ball over on downs after stopping four straight runs at the one-yard line.
  • On the ensuing UI possession, the Fighitng Illini went 99 yards on six plays and took the lead for good after a 70-yard touchdown run by Mikel LeShoure made the score 14-13 in favor of the Orange and Blue. That scoring drive tied a school record for longest scoring drive, tying three other times in school history, and opened the floodgates for the Illinois offense to rattle off 24-more points to close out the game.
  • Since Hawthorne's chasedown of Roundtree, Illinois has exploded for 66 points and 757 yards of total offense in just six quarters of play.


  • Junior receiver Arrelious Benn ranks fifth on the Illinois career receptions list with 150, while his career receiving yardage total of 2,070 ranks sixth all-time in the UI record book.
  • Benn has 3,391 career all-purpose yards which ranks fifth in school history, 110 yards behind Thomas Rooks' fourth place total of 3,501.
  • Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 932 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
  • Benn led Illinois last week against Minnesota with three catches for 41 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, his first receiving TD of the season.
  • Benn isn't just a weapon in the passing and return games. On Oct. 31 against Michigan, Benn scored his first touchdown of the season on a three-yard run in the first quarter. For his career, Benn has 60 rushes for 275 yards (4.6 ypc) and three touchdowns.
  • Benn has made 32 career starts at Illinois, which is the third-most among Illini receivers in school history. With starts in the remaining three games, Benn will tie two-time All-American David Williams in second place with 35 starts.
  • 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 33 of his 34 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 and earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. It was the first 1,000-yard season for an Illini receiver since 2002. Benn recorded five 100-yard receiving games and averaging 15.7 yards per catch in 2008.


  • Illinois senior quarterback Juice Williams has a chance to leave the Illini program as the most productive signal caller in school history. He ...
    • Already holds the Illinois total offense records for a career (9,978) and season (3,892)
    • Ranks sixth in total offense in Big Ten history
    • Already holds the Illinois QB rushing records for a career (2,434), season (755) and game (174)
    • Ranks third in school history in passing yardage (7,544)
    • Is the Illinois career leader in starts by a quarterback with 42
    • Needs 111 rushing yards to move up to sixth on the Illinois career rushing list
    • Needs six 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 9,978 total yards in his career, passing Kurt Kittner's previous record of 8,880.
  • With 63 total yards last week against Minnesota before leaving the game with an injury, Williams remained sixth on the all-time Big Ten total offense list, but moved closer to becoming the sixth player in Big Ten history to reach the 10,000-yard milestone. With 9,978 total yards, Williams enters this Saturday's game against Northwestern needing 22 yards to reach 10,000 and 276 yards to catch Iowa's Chuck Long for fifth place on the all-time conference list.
  • Williams moved into third on the Illinois all-time passing yardage list with his 53 yards against Minnesota. He now has 7,544 career passing yards, moving past Jason Verduzco's total of 7,532. Williams also moved past Verduzco (1,083) for third on the all-time UI pass attempts list with 1,086.
  • Williams currently ranks ninth on the Illinois all-time rushing list with 2,434 career yards. He needs 51 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 2,434 career yards. Second is where Williams' will stay, however, as Antwaan Randle El's has the conference record of 3,895 rushing yards.
  • Williams' 384 rushing yards this year ranks fifth on the UI single season quarterback rushing list. He already holds the top three spots, including the school record of 755 yards in 2007. He needs 47 yards to move past Tim Brasic's fourth-place total of 420 yards rushing in 2005.
  • With 14 carries against Purdue, Williams moved up to third on the Illinois all-time rushing attempts list with 584, passing Jim Grabowski's 579 carries. He currently has 612 attempts on the ground, 64 shy of Antoineo Harris' second-place total of 676.
  • With his start at Purdue on Oct. 24, Williams became Illinois' all-time leader in starts by a quarterback. He now has 42 career starts, topping the old record of 39 by Kurt Kittner.
  • 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 18 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. Juice Williams, 2006-09 -- 18
  5. Jeff George, 1988-89 -- 16
  6. Tony Eason, 1981-82 -- 14


  • Senior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle) and sophomore tight end Hubie Graham (back/funeral) have both missed the last two games but could return this week against Northwestern. Quarterback Juice Williams (ankle) was injured in the first quarter of last week's game against Minnesota and is questionable to play this weekend.
  • Junior receiver Jarred Fayson (knee) and senior safety Donsay Hardeman (neck) both returned to the field last week against Minnesota. Fayson missed last three games with his injury and Hardeman missed the last two games and nearly all of the Indiana game on Oct. 17.
  • Earlier in the season, starters Arrelious Benn, Williams, Hoomanawanui and Garrett Edwards all missed significant time because of injuries. Benn missed most of the season-opener against Missouri with an ankle injury, part of the Michigan State game with a concussion and part of the Michigan game after aggrivating his ankle injury. Williams missed nearly the entire Illinois State game after straining a quad on the first play of the game and the final three quarters of the Minnesota game. Hoomanawanui injured an ankle early in the Penn State game has missed three full games and parts of two other games since then. Edwards missed the Indiana game with a neck injury before returning at Purdue.
  • 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.


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 2,434 yards rushing in his three-plus seasons as a quarterback, well ahead of third-place John Clay's total of 1,857 yards. Illini running back Daniel Dufrene ranks sixth with 1,170.

  1. Evan Royster, RB, Jr., Penn State -- 2,644
  2. Juice Williams, QB, Sr., Illinois -- 2,434
  3. John Clay, RB, So., Wisconsin -- 1,857
  4. Brandon Minor, RB, Sr., Michigan -- 1,632
  5. Terrelle Pryor, So., Ohio State -- 1,235
  6. Daniel Dufrene, RB, Sr., Illinois -- 1,170
  7. Carlos Brown, Sr., Michigan -- 1,023
  8. Demetrius McCray, Sr., Indiana -- 956
  9. Duane Bennett, So., Minnesota -- 939
  10. Ralph Bolden, So., Purdue -- 883
  11. Bryan Payton, Sr., Indiana -- 874
  12. Brandon Saine, Jr., Ohio State -- 839
  13. Stephfon Green, So., Penn State -- 832
  14. Mike Kafka, Sr., Northwestern -- 828
  15. Daniel Herron, So., Ohio State -- 804


  • Illinois' 2009 schedule was rated 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 the top-20 of this week's BCS standings.
  • Currently, the NCAA ranks Illinois' schedule the 26th-toughest nationally and after 10 weeks. Illinois' opponents' record is 70-46. One team remains undefeated through 10 weeks as Cincinnati is 9-0.
  • 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 No. 13/11 Ohio State and then hosting No. 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. 5/7 Cincinnati on Nov. 27 and home against 2008 New Mexico Bowl participant Fresno State on Dec. 5.


  • Redshirt-freshman quarterback Jacob Charest filled in nicely for the injured Juice Williams last week against Minnesota, posting career bests in his second collegiate game with 185 yards on 10 of 19 passing and tossing his first-career touchdown pass, a four-yarder to Arrelious Benn in the fourth quarter.
  • Benn's touchdown against the Gophers was his second of the season and his first through the air, as the other was a three-yard run against Michigan last week. Benn finished the game with three catches for 41 yards and one touchdown. He is now alone in fifth place on the UI career receptions list with 150.
  • Illinois' 28 points in the first half against Minneosta are the most this year in the first two quarters of play and the most since scoring 28 in the first half against Indiana in 2008. The week before against Michigan, Illinois scored 31 points in the second half.
  • With first and second string tight ends Michael Hoomanawanui and Hubie Graham out with injuries for the last two weeks, Jeff Cumberland and redshirt freshman London Davis have both stepped up to fill the void. Originally a tight end who was converted to receiver in 2007, Cumberland caught two passes for 51 yards against Michigan in his move back to the tight end position and then had two caches for 45 yards against Minnesota, including a 22-yard touchdown reception from Williams in the first quarter. Davis, meanwhile, saw the first offensive action of his career against Michigan, catching a two-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for the first reception of his career.
  • Cumberland is nearing the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yardage as the senior has 959 career yards heading into this weekend's game against Northwestern.
  • Sophomore running back Mikel LeShoure posted career-high rushing totals in three straight games from Oct. 17-31, most recently a 21-carry, 150-yard effort against Michigan that included a career-long 70-yard TD run. In the last four games, Leshoure has piled up 375 yards (93.8 ypg) on 58 carries (6.5 ypc).
  • Illinois has two of the best rushing totals in the NCAA this season. The Illini's 384 yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12 is the 18th-best total in the NCAA this season, while the 377 yards against Michigan is the 21st-highest in the country and is the highest total in the Big Ten during conference play.
  • Illinois had two rushers go over 100 yards against Michigan as Mikel LeShoure ran for a career-high 150 yards on 21 carries and Jason Ford racked up 128 yards on 12 carries. The Illini nearly had a third 100-yard rusher against the Wolverines, as Juice Williams ran for 97 yards on the ground. It marked the first time that two Illini went over 100-yards in the same game since Nov. 17, 2007, when Williams had 136 yards and Rashard Mendenhall 124 against Northwestern.
  • Leshoure and Ford both had touchdown runs of over 70-yards against the Wolverines, as Leshoure broke loose for a 70-yard TD run in the third quarter and Ford for a 79-yard scoring run in the fourth. It marks the first time that Illinois has had two runs of 70+ yards in the same game since Oct. 21, 1944, when Buddy Young had runs of 92 yards and 82 yards against Pittsburgh.
  • Ford's 79-yard run against Michigan was the longest rush for an Illini since Rashard Mendenhall's 79-yard TD run against USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl and was the longest play from scrimmage for an Illini since Daniel Dufrene's 80-yard run against Ohio State on Nov. 10, 2007.
  • Chris James caught a 37-yard pass in the third quarter for his longest reception since hauling in a 47-yard pass against Northwestern on Nov. 18, 2006.
  • The Illinois offense didn't have a turnover against Michigan, marking the first time Illinois hasn't turned the ball over since playing a clean game at Michigan on Oct. 4, 2008.
  • With 61 rushing yards against Illinois State on Sept. 12, 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 1,170 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 384 on the ground, the 18th-highest single-game total in the nation this season, on 46 carries (8.3 ypc).
  • Jason Ford rushed for 137 yards against ISU, posting the second 100-yard game of his career. 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.
  • The Illinois offense returned 100 percent of its 2,034 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.


  • The Illinois defense held Minnesota to just 50 yards rushing for the game on 36 carries (1.4 ypc), the least allowed by the Illini to an FBS opponent since giving up 40 to Penn State on 10/21/06. The Illini held FCS opponent Illinois State to 44 >yards on the ground on Sept. 12 of this season.
  • The Illini defense staged another impressive third quarter against the Gophers. In the last four games, it has allowed only six total points in the third quarter. In the last six games, it hasn't surrendered more than seven points in a third quarter.
  • True-freshman cornerback Terry Hawthorne recorded his first collegiate interception vs. the Gophers and returned it 44 yards for his first touchdown. It was Illinois' first interception since Tavon Wilson's second-half pick against Michigan State on Oct. 10. Hawthorne also recorded a career-best five solo tackles.
  • Hawthorne's interception return for touchdown was the first pick-six for an Illini since Derek Walker took one back 34 yards against Missouri on Aug. 30, 2008.
  • Junior defensive end Clay Nurse ranks second in the Big Ten in sacks during conference play with 5.5 and is sixth in tackles for loss during league games with 9.0.
  • Defensive tackle Josh Brent had a career-best 1.5 sacks and also added 2.5 tackles for loss against the Gophers. He also forced and recovered a fumble in the first quarter, marking his third forced fumble in the past two games (2 vs. Michigan).
  • The Illinois defense has held the opposition without a second-half touchdown in three of the last five games. The Illini `D' shutout Michigan in the second half on Oct. 31 and allowed just a field goal in the second half at Purdue on Oct. 24. In the the Oct. 10 loss to Michigan State, the only points the Spartans got the second half came on an interception return for touchdown.
  • The Illini defense forced three turnovers against the Wolverines on Oct. 31, the most this season for Illinois against an FBS team. The Orange and Blue also collected three turnovers against Illinois State on Sept. 12.
  • Linebacker Ian Thomas leads the team and ranks eighth in the Big Ten with 8.0 tackles per game. He tied his career-high with eight solo tackles against Michigan and had a TFL, a fumble recover a pass break-up and a quarterback hurry against the Wolverines. He followed that up with a team-high 10 tackles against Minnesota last week.
  • Safety Walter Aikens made his first career start at Indiana on Oct. 17 and has been one of the team's top tacklers since. Aikens tied for the team lead with seven tackles against the Hoosiers and then had a career-best and team-high 10 stops against Michigan on Oct. 31.
  • Corey Liuget had a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Michigan in addition to recovering a fumble in the second half.
  • Cornerback 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.
  • The Illini defense recorded seven passes broken up against Michigan State, 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 year's 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.
  • Russell Ellington had a 79-yard interception return against Illinois State on Sept. 12, marking the longest non-scoring interception return in school history. He also had a career-high eight tackles and two passes broken up.
  • The Illini defense held Illinois State to just 44 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.
  • 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.


  • Junior punter Anthony Santella had a career-game against Michigan on Oct. 31, punting four times for a career-best average of 47.8 yards with one downed inside the 20 and a career-long 65-yarder. In the last five games, Santella is averaging 44.2 per punt on 26 punts, with 10 punts over 50 yards and eight downed inside the 20.
  • For the season, Santella is averaging a career-best 41.6 yards per kick this year and already has a career-highs with 10 punts of 50+ yards (previous high was seven) and 15 punts fair caught (previous high was 12). He also could establish a new career high for punts inside the 20 (has 12, career high is 17).
  • Sophomore kick-off specialist Derek Dimke had four touchbacks vs. the Wolverines on Oct. 31, the most of his career.
  • Dimke scored the first point of his career with and extra point in the third quarter at Purdue on Oct. 24. The week before at Indiana, Dimke recovered the first fumble of his career after Nate Bussey forced the ball loose on an Indiana kickoff return.
  • Illinois ranks second in the Big Ten in kickoff coverage as the team nets an average of 43.6 yards per kickoff. Illinois also ranks third in the conference in touchbacks with eight thanks to the strong leg of Dimke.
  • Arrelious Benn ranks seventh on the Illinois career kickoff return yardage list with 932 yards in his career. Next on this list is Darryl Usher with 950 career kickoff return yards.
  • Sophomore Matt Eller kicked the 19th field goal of his career with his 23-yarder against Michigan in the fourth quarter. Eller ranks 10th on the Illinois all-time field goals list.
  • 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. Benn ranks fourth in the Big Ten in kick return average at 25.4 yards per return. On punt returns, receivers Jarred Fayson and Jack Ramsey have both lined-up as return men.


  • The 38-13 victory over Michigan on Oct. 31, combined with last year's 45-20 Illini win in Ann Arbor, marked the first time Illinois has beaten Michigan in back-to-back seasons since 1957 and 1958. It also marked the first time Illinois topped the Wolverines at Memorial Stadium since 1983.
  • Ron Zook became only the third coach in school history to beat Michigan two or more times in their career. Robert Zuppke (29 years, 1913-41) defeated the Wolverines nine times and Ray Eliot (18 years, 1942-59) had eight victories over UM. Illini quarterback Juice Williams is only the second quarterback in modern history (since 1946 when starters were recorded in Illinois archives) to beat Michigan twice. In 1951 and '52, Tom O'Connell engineered wins over the Wolverines.
  • Illinois has sold out two of its four home games so far this season, Oct. 3 against Penn State and Oct. 10 against Michigan State. With those two sellouts, Illinois has now had 10 sellouts in the last three seasons. Illinois' average attendance of 62,052 this season ranks 29th in the nation and Memorial Stadium has been filled to 98.7 percent of its capacity this season, which ranks 27th in the nation.
  • Student season tickets sold out for the Illinois football season this year, marking the second straight season that all 10,000 student tickets 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.


  • Illinois has faced two top-15 opponents this season and future opponent Cincinnati is ranked No. 5 in this week's AP poll. The Illini have already faced No. 13/11 Ohio State and No. 15/13 Penn State.
  • 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.


  • 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. 4 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.


  • 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.