Illini Stun Michigan State 23-20

The Illini traveled to East Lansing looking to get their first Big Ten victory in the Ron Zook era, while the Spartans were looking to bounce back from their collapse against Notre Dame. With Juice Williams making his second start for the Fighting Illini, it was the Illini who would achieve their goal as the Illini stunned the Spartans with a 23-20 victory over Michigan State.

The Michigan State Spartans welcomed the Fighting Illini into East Lansing for their Homecoming celebration in what almost every Spartan fan thought would be a walk in the park that would hopefully have their team forget what happened last weekend against Notre Dame. But the Fighting Illini and Juice Williams had something else on their mind, ending three different Illini losing streaks. And that is just what the young Fighting Illini did in East Lansing.

The Illini won their first time in ten games against Michigan State.

The Illini won for the first time in twelve games against Division IA competition.

The Illini won for their first Big Ten game since beating Indiana on November 6, 2004 (ten games).

All these streaks are now off the board, and Ron Zook's program has finally stated that the past is over, and the future is bright for the Fighting Illini football program.

On Saturday afternoon in East Lansing, the team that controlled the game and led for the majority of the way was the Illinois Fighting Illini. The Spartans scored first with a field goal in the first quarter, taking a 3-0 lead. The Illini scored the next ten points in the game, taking a 10-3 lead into the half.

Then, on Illinois' first drive of the second half, Juice Williams threw and interception that was returned for a touchdown. In past games for the Illinois football team, this is the time when they would have looked around at each other and thought, "here we go again." But Juice Williams would not allow that to happen. Right after throwing the pick six, Williams led the Illini on a nine play seventy-two yard touchdown drive (capped by an EB Halsey touchdown pass to Jacob Willis) to retake the lead for the Illini at 17-10. A Jason Red field goal later, and the Illini would be leading 20-10 heading into the fourth quarter.

Michigan State had two drives in the fourth quarter, and they scored on both of them. Their first drive of the fourth quarter went six plays and 27 yards for a touchdown, but it was definitely disputed. It looked like Drew Stanton fumbled the ball, and the Illini recovered, but the replay official saw it differently, and said it was an incomplete pass. The next drive for the Illini was just three plays and zero yards, and the Spartans went on a game tying field goal drive, but Juice Williams and the Illini offense still had time on the clock to go on a game winning drive.

That is exactly what Juice Williams lead his Fighting Illini on, a game winning ten play drive. Starting from their own 20, the Illini offense marched up the field 58 yards to give Jason Reda a chance to win the game for the Illini. Reda lined up, and kicked a perfect 39 yard field goal right through the uprights to give the Illini their first Big Ten win of the season.


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