MINNEAPOLIS (WCIA) — With bowl eligibility on the line Illini Football travels to Minnesota to take on the No. 20 Golden Gophers, with the opportunity to win their second-straight game over a ranked team. There was the 9OT win over No. 7 Penn State last week, yet the Illini have struggled to close out games this season.
By in large the Illini have been competitive in most games, minus Virginia and Wisconsin. However, at this point in the season there are no participation trophies. It’s all about getting the job done and that’s been the problem for the Illini, which includes last Saturday’s home loss to Rutgers. Illinois struggled to put together a game-winning touchdown drive in the final four minutes, suffering a 20-14 loss.
“It’s been my experience a lot of times that a team that takes the road is a little different personality and ours has been a positive one other than one negative one,” says head coach Bret Bielema. “I think we really looked after the Virginia game how we played the game and approach things so the thing that consistently has been a little bit of an issue is playing a four quarter game. A lot of those games have been 50, 55 minutes of good football for us but we can’t put ourselves over the top in the most critical moment.”
“If we do what we know we can do and believe that we can do, there’s still a chance that we can have a postseason,” says quarterback Brandon Peters. “That’s not dead and I think guys understand that so moving forward, we just got to believe that we can do it, and do it.”
Illinois needs to win its last three games of the regular season to become eligible for a bowl game. They kick-off against Minneapolis at 11 a.m. CT on Big Ten Network.