WEST LAFAYETTE, IN. (WCIA) — The cannon trophy is coming back to Champaign for the first time in four years as Illinois football finds a way to win back-to-back Big Ten games.
That hasn’t happened since 2014 and only twice in nine years and Illinois made it look easy against Purdue. The Illini dominated nearly the entire game, the Boilermakers still hadn’t scored at halftime and if it wasn’t for a 13-play, 99 yard drive in the fourth quarter — the stats would have looked a lot better but the team says all that matters if the win coming off the upset over Wisconsin last weekend.
“We wanted to prove to people that this wasn’t a fluke and that we could continuously win, especially on the road too,” says Illini quarterback Brandon Peters. “The weather wasn’t great but we used it as a strength today.”
The Illini set the tone defensively forcing two fumbles, two sacks and a pick six early in the second quarter by Tony Adams. Illinois has only allowed 29 points the last two games. In their four game losing streak, opponents scored 30 plus every time.
“You know productive again but in order for that to happen you have to be able to play the run too,” says head coach Lovie Smith. “I thought our defensive line rushed the passer well, so big win for us. It’s good to get two in a row, which makes this third game of the second season, that more important.”
“We knew we could do it, we just had to go out there and execute,” says Adams. “We know our offense is going to put points on the board, the big boys up front they’re working and we know our d-line is very disruptive. We knew this week the secondary had to come play so that was the focus.”
Things looked bleak just six weeks ago after that Eastern Michigan loss at home but give Illinois a lot of credit for fighting back. At 4-4 they’re just two wins shy of a bowl bid, meaning they’ll play meaningful football in November for the first time under Lovie Smith. With Rutgers coming to town next weekend, the Illini have a great shot to win three straight Big Ten games for the first time since 2007.