Three Stars: Illinois

While heavy snow was falling in Minneapolis, the Gophers were busy celebrating their first Big Ten victory of the season in Champaign, Illinois. The game against the Illini showed the Gophers at their best, winning a thriller by a score of 38-34. Three players played exceptional games that deserve recognition.

Although Adam Weber did not have his best statistical game, he showed why he has been a captain of the Gophers since his sophomore year.

Weber ended the day 20 of 36 for 225 yards and two touchdowns. He made great throws throughout the game such as a lob to Da'Jon McKnight for a touchdown. Not only did Weber pass well, he also ran the ball efficiently totaling 37 yards on six carries including a 29-yard scamper on third-and-10 on the Gophers' last scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Weber had to battle through adversity all day including a brutal wind and numerous drops by his receivers when the ball was perfectly thrown. Weber's leadership and never-quit attitude pushed the Gophers to victory on Saturday.

Like Weber, DeLeon Eskridge did not rack up a large amount of yards on Saturday. What he did do was score three touchdowns including a touchdown in the fourth quarter where he was stuffed but bulled his way into the endzone. Eskridge ended the day with 49 yards on 14 carries.

Eskridge continued to run hard as he has done all season. He never gave up on runs once he got hit and always worked for the extra yard. Today Eskridge's hard work was rewarded with a trio of touchdown runs.

Troy Stoudermire had a quiet game at cornerback for the majority of the game, compiling just three tackles. His breakout moment came at in the fourth quarter after a Mikel Leshoure scored on a 55-yard touchdown to put the Illini up 34-24 with under 11 minutes to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Stoudermire burst through the defense and ran the kick back for 90 yards to the Illinois four-yard line. This set up a quick Gopher touchdown en route to an exciting comeback victory.

Adam Weber said of the kickoff return, "That was huge. Those are the little things. It's a whole entire team game. The defense came up and played awesome this game, then having a big kick return and getting it down to the four yard line, then the offense being able to stick it in. That's what shows a great team. We kept on fighting and never gave up, and we were able to capitalize on those big plays. That's why we won this game."

Stoudermire also ended the game with an interception as the clock expired to seal the deal for the Gophers.


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