Rutgers emerged victorious with a 35-24 win over Illinois on Saturday, giving Chris Ash his first Big Ten win as the Scarlet Knights’ head coach. Find live updates from the game below.
Rutgers-Illinois live updates, score
The teams trade scores, but the Rutgers win was never seriously in doubt near the end. Final score: Rutgers 35, Illinois 34.
Illinois making some noise here. Jeff George completes a 30-yard pass to Ricky Smallings to make it a 28-17 game.
Gus Edwards runs in another score from 5 yards out with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter. Rutgers leads, 28-10.
Rutgers completes a 6-play, 75-yard drive with a 7-yard Gus Edwards run. Scarlet Knights lead 21-10 with 4:59 to go in the first half.
A 1-yard Ra’Von Bonner run gets Illinois closer, and it’s 14-10.
Rutgers responds to an Illinois field goal with another touchdown run, this one from 5 yards out. It’s 14-3.
Rutgers takes a 7-0 lead on a 19-yard touchdown run from Raheem Blackshear.
The game has kicked off. Here we go.
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Rutgers-Illinois game time, information
Rutgers and Illinois are playing on the Big Ten Network.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14
Time: 12 p.m. ET
TV channel: Big Ten Network
Location: Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Illinois.
Odds: Illinois -2.5
Last year, when the two teams met in the same Week 7 matchup, the Fighting Illini bested the Scarlet Knights 24-7. This year, the Scarlet Knights come into Champaign, Ill, at 1-4 and are tied for sixth in the Big Ten East, while the Illini are 2-3 and are fifth in the Big Ten West.
Illinois is favored to beat the Scarlet Knights by 2.5 points. The over/under is also at 48 points. The Scarlet Knights and the Illini have only 3 meetings all-time. In 2005, Illinois won 33-30 at home. The two programs met the next season, with Rutgers winning 33-0 at home in 2006. Rutgers and Illinois didn’t meet again until last season. Last year’s game was also the teams’ first game as Big Ten teams. Illinois won big at Rutgers, 24-7, on the road. That was one of only two Big Ten wins for Illinois last season, as Rutgers finished conference play 0-9.
Rutgers and head coach Chris Ash have a little bit more certainty and direction now than they might had previously, as Athletics Director Pat Hobbs got a contract extension through the 2021-22 season. As for on the field though, they’ll need a lift and hope to get one with the possible return of talented wide receiver and kick returner Janarion Grant, who led the team in all-purpose yardage and sat out against Ohio State.
The squad will also have to limit its turnovers, as starter Kyle Bolin has six interceptions to just three touchdown passes. As a whole though the offensive unit has fumbled just three times and only lost it once, while the defense has forced seven fumbles and procured the ball twice.
For the Illini, they’ll be counting on quarterback Jeff George Jr. to step it up from his first start last week in a loss to Iowa. George Jr. was named the starter before the game with the Hawkeyes and was 22-of-45 in the game for 246 yards, but threw three interceptions as well. Fumbles have also been a problem for the Illini, as they’ve put the ball on the ground nine times, though they’ve only lost it once. Their defense has also been a fumble-producer with nine forced fumbles and four recoveries.
Both teams have struggled to run the ball, with the Illini’s Mike Epstein coming in as the leading rusher, averaging 6.1 yards per carry but having only three touchdowns to show for it. Gus Edwards is the leading rusher for the Scarlet Knights with 314 yards and averages 4.2 YPC with two scores, but it’s clear the team uses a number of backs with nine touchdowns on the ground.