The Illinois offense had been dormant for virtually an entire season, but today it found the ultimate elixir today, and its color as Maize & Blue.
After stymieing the Illini in the second quarter to the tune of -25 yards, the Juice Williams led attack exploded for 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to blow the game open.
The game shifted on one series. On Michigan's opening offensive possession of the second half Tate Forcier found slot receiver Roy Roundtree down the seam for what appeared to be a 77-yard touchdown pass. Replay correctly showed the Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne had actually stopped Roundtree on the one yard line. It was a game-changing play because the Wolverines were unable to punch it in from one yard out. On fourth down replay again went against Michigan (correctly) when it showed that Brandon Minor's elbow was down before the ball broke the plane of the goal line.
Illinois responded immediately by driving the length of the field for a touchdown. The tide-turning score came courtesy of a Mike Leshoure 70 yard rush. That put the Illini up 14-13 at that point, but that proved to just be the calm before the storm.
When Michigan's offense went three and out on the next possession the Illini offense picked right up where it had left off. With momentum and the home crowd clearly on Illinois' side, Ron Zook's crew went 79 yards in just four plays to go up 21-13.
Yet another three-and-out for the Michigan offense put back on the field again, and the result was the same as the two drives previous. The reeling Michigan defense didn't provide much resistance, this time surrendering a six play 45 yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard TD run from Williams.
The Michigan offense completed its half of ineptitude by fumbling twice more in the final stanza. The Michigan defense was just bad, giving up 10 more points, including a 79 rush by Jason Ford for the game's final score.
On the game Illinois finished with a whopping 377 yards rushing (5.6 per carry) and 123 yards passing for 500 yards of net offense. Leshoure ended with 150 yards rushing, Ford, 128, and Williams 97. The Wolverines turned the ball over three times on the day, all on fumbles. Two were committed by Forcier, who finished the game with 257 yards on 13/23 passing and 24 yards rushing.
For full stats and more notes on the game, click here.
Next up for the 5-4 Wolverines is a home match-up next Saturday with the Purdue Boilermakers. Kick off will take place at 12:01 PM EST on the Big Ten Network.