Illinois Take Big Ten Rushing Title

With the 2006-07 college football bowl season wrapped up, the Big Ten has released its final conference statistics and the Fighting Illini finished atop the rushing list, averaging 188.8 yards per game. Illinois moved ahead of Michigan (which finished second with 175.5 yards per contest) after the regular season. The average also placed Illinois among the nation's elite, ranking 10th in the NCAA.

The 2006 UI squad rushed for 2,266 yards, the best total number for an Illinois team since 1973, and its average of 188.8 yards per game was the best since 1978. The offense also recorded 5.2 yards per rush, which was a conference best, and ranked fifth nationally. With a combination of three backs in Pierre Thomas, E.B. Halsey and Rashard Mendenhall, as well as quarterback Juice Williams, the Illini improved from their 10th-place finish in that statistic a year ago.

Other notable Big Ten statistics: The Illinois defense improved from 10th in 2005 to fifth during the 2006 season, highlighted by a second-place ranking in passing yards allowed ... The Illini had two players rank among the Big Ten's best tacklers, including All-Big Ten linebacker J. Leman, who led the conference in total tackles (152) and tackles per game (12.7). Ranking 10th was fellow linebacker Antonio Steele, who posted 7.1 tackles per contest ... Leman also was second in tackles for loss, while Illini defenders David Lindquist led the Big Ten in fumbles recovered and cornerback Alan Ball was third in passes defended ... Junior Jason Reda, who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors, finished in the top-3 in each kicking statistical category; he was third in field goals per game (1.25), third in field goal percentage (78.9) and first in PAT percentage (100.0).

Information compiled from the Big Ten Office and the U of I SID

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