CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The honeymoon phase of the Bret Bielema era has come to an end, as Illinois suffers it’s first loss of the season, falling 37-30 to non-conference opponent UTSA. The roadrunners have never faced a Big Ten opponent before, but beat the Illini at Memorial Stadium to mark their best win in program history.
Illinois tight end Daniel Barker scored two touchdowns for the Illini, including one in the fourth quarter that made it 30-26, and put the game within reach for the Illini. UTSA added another touchdown from Brendan Brady to make it 37-26, before the Illini added a field goal from James McCourt to keep them in the game. Illinois had a chance to tie it on the final drive as time was winding down, but the drive ended with an Illinois pass interference penalty, and an incompletion to end the game. Illinois had seven penalties costing them 61 yards. The roadrunners put up 217 on rushing yards, compared to Illinois’ 197 yards.
Illinois will play their first road game of the season next, when they travel to Virginia next Saturday.