Josh Imatorbhebhe

Getty Images

Field goal as time expires lifts Illinois to stunning upset of No. 6 Wisconsin


So much for that.

No. 4 Ohio State easily took care of business Friday night in Evanston, taking Northwestern to the woodshed in a 52-3 shellacking of the Wildcats. A day later, heavily-favored and sixth-ranked Wisconsin was set to face Illinois, with Badgers expected to take care of its business in helping to set up a titanic UW-OSU matchup in Columbus in Week 9.

Somebody, though, forgot to give the Illini that script as, down 20-7 late in the third quarter, the Illini went on a 17-point run to secure a huge 24-23 upset of the previously-unbeaten Badgers in Champaign.  The game-winning points came off the right leg of James McCourt, who connected from 39 yards out as time expired.

Entering the game, UW was listed as 31-point favorites; exiting it, UI claimed its first win over a team ranked in the Top 10 since knocking off No. 1 Ohio State in 2007.

The Badgers, who were first nationally in scoring defense at 4.8 points per game prior to Week 8, allowed their first first-half touchdown of the season on Michigan transfer Brandon Peters‘ 48-yard hookup with Donny Navarro with less than six minutes left in the second quarter.

The Fighting Illini’s second touchdown of the day, a Reggie Corbin 43-yard run, cut the lead to 20-14 with under a minute left in the third quarter.  Following a Jonathan Taylor fumble midway through the fourth, Peters’ second touchdown pass of the day, from 29 yards out to USC transfer Josh Imatorbhebhe, pulled the Illini to within two at 23-21.

Yet another Badger giveaway, this one a Jack Coan interception, gave the Illini possession of the ball at their own 47-yard line with 2:32 left in the contest. Eight plays and 32 yards later, the stage was set for McCourt’s late-game heroics.

Lost amidst the loss and his fumble was Taylor making some history.

Taylor came in four yards shy of 5,000 rushing yards in his career. Any suspense related to the running back hitting that mark Saturday afternoon was quickly erased as Taylor ripped off a 16-yard run on UW’s first play from scrimmage to eclipse that the 5k plateau.

In hitting that mark, Taylor became just the fourth FBS back to reach 5,000 yards prior to the end of their junior season. The first three were Georgia’s Herschel Walker (5,596 yards at the end of his third year), Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne (5,091*) and Oregon’s LaMichael James (5,082).

More impressively, Taylor became the quickest ever to reach 5,000 yards.

For this game, Taylor finished with 132 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.  It was the 28th 100-yard game of Taylor’s career, six (in seven games) this season.

(*I don’t care that the NCAA asininely doesn’t go back and retroactively add bowl stats, which they have officially counted since 2002.)

(Writer’s note: this post will be updated, as needed, over the next hour or so.)

Michigan running away with things at Illinois, up 28-7 at halftime

Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

After a tough defensive slugfest with Iowa last week, Michigan is on the road taking care of some business in a much more comfortable style this afternoon at Illinois. The Wolverines lead Illinois 28-7 at halftime, and the running game has been a big reason why.

Not surprisingly, Michigan has managed to take advantage on the ground with their running game. The Wolverines have racked up 206 rushing yards against the nation’s 98th-ranked rushing defense in the first half. That includes a 29-yard touchdown run by Hassan Haskins on a 3rd-and-1 play on Michigan’s first offensive series.

Early in the second quarter, the Wolverines special teams unit blocked a rugby-style punt and took over at the Illinois seven-yard line. A handoff to Zach Charbonnet on the first play of the drive was all that was needed for Michigan to build a 21-0 lead.

Shea Patterson has completed 7 of 12 pass attempts for 150 yards and two touchdowns, which has been a nice complement to what the Wolverines have done on the ground. Illinois did manage to get in the end zone before halftime. Isaiah Williams completed a 23-yard pass to Josh Imatorbhebhe in the final minute of the half.

Barring a complete shocker after halftime, Michigan looks poised to go to 5-1 on the season as they head to Penn State next weekend.

Eastern Michigan drops Illinois, beats Big Ten school for the third year in a row

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Perhaps the two conferences could work a trade? I hear one B1G school — I won’t say the name, but it rhymes with “Shmutgers” — may be available.

Trailing Eastern Michigan 31-17 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Illinois rallied for two touchdowns in a span of just over six minutes to tie the game at 31-all.  The last score, a 36-yard touchdown pass from Michigan transfer Brandon Peters to USC transfer Josh Imatorbhebhe, was the culmination of a seven-play, 93-yard drive that included a 4th-and-10 conversion from their own seven-yard line.

That would be the highest of the highs on the day for the Fighting Illini as the Eagles’ punctuated their own late-game drive with Chad Ryland‘s 24-yard field goal as time expired to claim a thrilling 34-31 win.

This marks the third straight season that Chris Creighton‘s EMU squad has knocked off a school from the Big Ten.  In September of 2018, it was Purdue (20-19); in September of 2017, it was Rutgers (16-13).

Prior to 2017, Eastern Michigan had never beaten a team from that conference in 39 tries.

Overall, the MAC has now beaten at least one Big Ten team in 14 straight seasons.

And try this final nugget on for size: Creighton now has nearly as many wins over Big Ten teams (three) as Lovie Smith (four).  Heading into Illinois’ B1G opener against Nebraska next weekend, Smith has posted a 4-23 record in conference play.

USC transfer WR Keyshawn Young moves on to Marshall

USC Marshall
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Another of the handful of USC wide receivers who left the Trojans this offseason has found a new college football home.

On his personal Twitter account Monday, Keyshawn Young announced that he will be continuing his playing career at Marshall.  The missive comes a little over a month after Young utilized the same social media website to confirm his transfer from the Trojans.

Barring an unexpected turn of events, Young will be forced to sit out the 2019 season to comply with NCAA transfer bylaws.  That would then make the 2020 season his final year of eligibility.

Young was a three-star member of the Trojans’ 2016 recruiting class.  The 5-11, 170-pound Florida native played in nine games, all at cornerback, during his true freshman season before moving to wide receiver prior to his sophomore campaign.  He didn’t catch a pass in either of the past two seasons.

In addition to Young, Randal Grimes (UNLV), Josh Imatorbhebhe (Illinois), Trevon Sidney (Illinois) are all receivers who have left the Land of Troy this offseason and found new homes.  Bru McCoy (Texas) and Velus Jones (NCAA transfer database) left as well before experiencing a change of heart and ultimately returning HERE and HERE.

Illinois lands former USC WR Josh Imatorbhebhe

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Los Angeles-to-Champaign pipeline is alive and well.

After landing wide receiver Trevon Sidney and defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Jr., the Fighting Illini have added wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, he announced Monday.

“Transitions are never easy, but the support has definitely helped lighten the load,” Imatorbhebhe, No. 17 above, wrote in an iPhone note posted to his Twitter account. “Without further ado I’m pleased to announce my commitment to…

THE University of Illinois; with a plan to get my Masters (sic) in Strategic Brand Communications.”

A former 4-star recruit in the class of 2016 out of Suwanee, Ga., Imatorbehbhe redshirted in his first year on campus, then caught just two passes in his two seasons on the active roster, with his 2018 season slowed by an ankle injury.

Imatorbehbhe will have two seasons to play immediately for the Illini.