CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — For the second week in a row, Illinois ended the first half with the ball and unused timeouts. Each time, only needing a few more plays to get into field goal range.
Against Nebraska, Illinois got the ball back with 1:32 left on their own 19 yard line and two timeouts. In four plays, they were all the way up to their own 45 without using any of their timeouts and :35 seconds left. Illinois ran one more play then let the clock expire without using any of their timeouts. They were only about 15 yards away from James McCourt’s range for a field goal, he hit from 57 yards against Eastern Michigan.
In that Eastern Michigan game, Lovie Smith let more than 30 seconds run off the clock before deciding to use two of his timeouts. Then Reggie Corbin knifed his way down the field into field goal range, but by the time he was tackled the clock had hit :00.
“We were content. Probably, maybe could have had an opportunity to try and get something but we felt pretty good about where we were at the time. We felt pretty good about where we were right up until they took the lead,” Smith said. “So yards, missed tackles, all the things I’m talking about, if you look at what happened in the game we had the ball with an opportunity to win if we had converted the last drive. That’s the story of the game. So when I say we’ve gotten better, we’re a better football team, we are. Look, when you have an opportunity to win that game, last drive, all isn’t lost.”
Illinois is on a bye this week, they travel to Minnesota on October 5th.