MINNEAPOLIS (WCIA) — For the second time in three weeks, the Illini celebrate a win on an opponent’s field. It’s the first time in two decades Illinois has knocked off two Top-25 teams on the road in the same season. The Illini upset No. 20 Minnesota on Saturday winning 14-6, just two weeks after taking down No. 7 Penn State in Happy Valley.
“You know we ecstatic, you know we pumped, we juiced, you feel what I’m saying?,” says defensive back Tony Adams. “We earnt this one, we worked for this one, and we know they was going to be a tough team. You know they was going to fight like Coach B said, we gotta make it a 60 minute cage fight and we did that.”
Illinois’ defense won the day, keeping the Gophers offense in check, especially on the ground. Minnesota only ran for 89 yards, committed two turnovers and quarterback Tanner Morgan was sacked six times. A recipe for success for Illinois.
“We played one of our best games today, honestly, stopping Minnesota’s run game was probably top tier for us,” says defensive lineman Jer’Zhan Newton.
“We’ve been building and we know that we have the potential to be great,” says outside linebacker Owen Carney.
For the first time all season, the Illini scored a touchdown in the first quarter. Playing with the lead no doubt helped Illinois control the tempo and clock, with running back Chase Brown paving the way carrying the ball 33 times for 150 yards.
You know as long as we keep on doing what we’re doing week in and week out, executing on offense, executing on defense everybody does their job, our confidence will only go up from here,” says Brown.
“This game in November mattered for us this week,” says head coach Bret Bielema. “Obviously we’re not in contention for the Big Ten west this year but this team was, at the top of it and I made a challenge to them, let’s see where you want to be, what you want to do,”
Bowl bid dreams continue for the Illini, who will still need to win their final two games of the season to secure a 13th game. They’ll head into a bye week, before taking on Iowa and then Northwestern to close out the season.