CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois defense is leading the charge in the recent Illini turnaround. They’re doing it with a Lovie Smith staple, takeaways.
Illinois allowed more than 30 points per game over the first six games. That number jumps to more than 36 per game if you take away the 42-3 season opening win over Akron. But during their three game winning streak, Illinois has only allowed their opponents to score 13 points per game and the Illini have outscored their opponents 52-16 in the second half.
“We got a lot of older guys on the field and we’ve been in this position before and we know to win a game you’ve got to finish it,” Nate Hobbs said. “So we come back in the second half and we battled back, that was something that we would talk about in the offseason workouts, we’ve got to finish.”
“In our defensive room we’ve got an exclusive club, a touchdown club. Nate joined it today,” Lovie Smith said. “It’s good to see him make a play like that because he’s been playing outstanding ball.”
The defense has scored five touchdowns in Big Ten play, that’s more than Rutgers and Northwestern both have as a team.
Illinois travels to Michigan State on Saturday for a 2:30 contest.