Illini Blast Wolverines 45-20

Illinois quarterback Juice Williams passed over and ran through the Michigan defense on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium. The Illini quarterback set a new Michigan Stadium all-purpose yardage record as the Wolverines fell to the visiting Illini 45-20. Quarterback Steven Threet threw for 250 yards, a career high, and a pair of scores in the Michigan loss.

ANN ARBOR -- What's good for the goose…

Just last week it was the Wolverines (2-3, 1-1) that stumbled out of the blocks. Against the visiting Wisconsin Badgers it was Michigan that fell behind early. Down 19-0 at the half, it took a methodical second half comeback for the Wolverines to earn a win in Michigan's 500th game at Michigan Stadium.

Today the script was flipped.

Despite jumping on top of Illinois 14-3 through the first quarter of play, the visiting Fighting Illini began picking up steam in the second quarter, and never looked back. Scoring 28 unanswered points between the second and fourth quarters, the visitors from Champaign-Urbana, Ill., provided Michigan with its most lopsided homecoming loss since dropping a 34-9 decision to Iowa in 2002, a 45-20 defeat.

Mark Moundros and Michigan trimmed the lead to 11-points at 31-20 with a 2-yard touchdown reception with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Wolverines would get. Kicker K.C. Lopata missed the extra point, bouncing it off the top of the right goal post.

Illinois put the game out of reach on its ensuing possession. Quarterback Juice Williams broke free on a 50-yard run to the Michigan 1-yardline, and Mikel LeShoure took an option pitch three plays later into the left corner of the Michigan end zone. The 18-point Illinois lead, at the time, was its biggest of the game.

Illinois added one final touchdown in the closing moments on the contest.

Williams finished the game 13-of-26 passing totaling 310 yards, plus a pair of scores. He also added 121 yards on the ground. With 431 all-purpose yards, Williams set a new Michigan Stadium single-game yardage record. Arrelious Benn hauled in 6 passes for 122 yards.

Michigan quarterback Steven Threet completed 18-of-35 for 250 yards, a career high, and two touchdowns. Freshman Martavious Odoms led Michigan's receiving core. Odoms had seven catches for 129 yards.

At the onset of the contest, it looked as if Michigan would pick up right where it left off last week. After having a 52-yard field goal partially blocked on Michigan's first possession, the Maize-and-Blue scored a pair of touchdowns on their final two drives of the first quarter. Totaling just 21-yards in the first half against the visiting Badgers last weekend, Michigan netted 143-yards in just the high-scoring first quarter.

Sam McGuffie scored Michigan's first touchdown, a 4-yard scamper around the left side, with 8:29 left in the opening quarter. A drive that started on the Illinois 48-yard line, it quickly moved inside the red zone with a pair of big plays, a 26-yard completion to Martavious Odoms and an 18-yard McGuffie run.

Illinois cut into the lead with a 48-yard Matt Eller field goal with 3:08 to play in the quarter.

Michigan's next possession again resulted in a touchdown, and Michigan went up 14-3, its biggest lead of the game. Keyed by another connection between quarterback Steven Threet and freshman Martavious Odoms, Michigan was once again inside the Illinois red zone just a few short plays after taking over at its own 39. Greg Mathews capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown grab on a fade to the left pylon.

Then the game turned around.

"We are out of position. We are giving them way too many big plays and couldn't get off the field on third down. Third down was crazy; third-and-long we couldn't get off the field. We had pass-interference penalties and guys out of position not breaking on the ball right. You got a quarterback draw on third and two, and it goes for 50 yards. We've got to do a better job with our overall play," said Rich Rodriguez.

Illinois scored a pair of quick touchdowns in the second quarter to move ahead 17-14 with 10-minutes left in the opening half. Juice Williams kept the ball on a 6-yard scamper up the middle 54-seconds into the quarter, and Daniel Dufrene rumbled 57-yards to pay dirt on a screen pass from Williams.

Illinois extended that lead on its first possession of the second half. Williams connected with Jeff Cumberland for a 77-yard score; the Illini's longest of the day.

Michigan started to generate some offense near the middle of the third, but Threet and running back Michael Shaw fumbled a hand-off exchange setting up Illinois for its second touchdown of the half. Just seconds into the fourth quarter Jason Ford carried the ball across the plane from two-yards out to give Illinois the 31-14 lead.

"We've got to get back to work. I think the players will understand that. I don't think anyone is going to go through the Big Ten undefeated, but now we need help with that. But it starts with Michigan. We've got to get ourselves right, and it starts with the coaches tomorrow morning."

The Wolverines return to Michigan Stadium next Saturday to play host to the Toledo Rockets. Kick-off is scheduled for noon on the Big 10 Network.


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