Illini rally to beat Nebraska 14-13; overcome missed opportunities

Prior to leaving for the game, I got in 5 miles of running, (shuffling, really; took me 1 hour to do 5.01 miles)
Screen shot 2015-10-03 at 10.17.45 PM

Then 21:10 of cycling (10K) then yoga.

The game: Illinois outgained Nebraska 382 to 292 but with 51 seconds to go in the game they were down 13-7, at their own 27 and had no time outs. No problem.


The game started ok; Nebraska was stopped on its first possession and the teams traded punts. But Nebraska muffed the Illinois punt giving the Illini the ball at the Nebraska 39. But Illinois couldn’t move it and missed a 51 yard field goal (windy day).

Then came another Nebraska punt to the Illinois 8. The Illini drove it (getting good running) but got it to 4’th and 1 at the Nebraska 10. Illinois went for it with a quarterback keep but got thrown for a loss.

nebraska1long run

Nebraska got stopped again, had to punt; Illinois drove again and ended up missing a 41 yard field goal. Illinois had tons of chances and had zero points to show for it.

Second quarter, Nebraska broke a quarterback keeper for a 32 yard gain, and that sparked a 76 yard touchdown drive. “Here we go”, I thought. Throughout the game, Nebraska misfired on open passes (drops or slightly bad throws).

Throughout the second quarter, Illinois was going against the wind. Hence they played “slow” by running and running down the clock between snaps. But this quarter also featured a bizarre sequence in which the Illini ran a play on 4’th down, thinking it was 3’rd down because that is what the down marker said. For more: see this excellent analysis. Hence Nebraska got the ball at the Illinois 44. But the Illinois defense got an interception.


The defenses took over until late in the first quarter when Nebraska drove and got a field goal to go up 10-0, where the half ended.

Note: on the final play of the first half, Illinois was at the 40. They ran a running play which came oh-so-close to breaking; he was brought down at the Nebraska 12.

The third quarter saw Illinois playing “slow” again. It appeared that Nebraska won the field position battle when it pinned Illinois on its own 1 with great punt coverage. On the subsequent drive, Nebraska got the ball on the Illinois 31. The Illini defense stiffened again


and forced a field goal attempt, which was good. It was 13-0 Nebraska going into the 4’th..but the Illini had the wind again and was driving. A busted coverage enabled Illinois to cap off the 75 yard drive with a touchdown; it was now 13-7.

Then came a brutal defensive struggle; neither team could get anything going.

Then came the two key drives.

First, with 4:38 in the game, Nebraska started at their own 38 and mostly stayed on the ground. They got a first down at the Illinois 48 with 2:31 left in the game, and Illinois started to call time outs.

They ran to the Illini 30 for another first down; and so Illinois called time out. It got to be 3’rd and 7 at the Illinois 27 with Illinois out of time outs..1:46 is when they called their last one.

Nebraska gained 3 yards. It was now 3’rd and 7 with the clock running down, and Nebraska tried a pass, which was incomplete and stopped the clock with 55 seconds to play. So it was 4’th and 7 at the 27; field goal attempt into the wind would have been low percentage. Another incomplete pass.

So Illinois got the ball at their own 27 with 51 seconds left and no time outs.

Illinois hit a 15 yard sideline route then a 50 yard bomb to the Nebraska 7. A clear pass interference call gave Illinois the ball at the Nebraska 2 with 15 seconds to go..but no time outs..runs were out of the question.

There was one incomplete pass, then another pass interference call. First and goal at the one, when the Illini passed for the touchdown.

10 seconds were left. Whew!

Dating back to last season, the Illini have won 5 home games in a row, and 3 of the games (Penn State, Middle Tennessee, this game) featured an Illinois comeback and the game not being decided until 10 seconds in the game were left…or less.

Tracy was my dedicated buddy for this game; she was a trooper.



October 4, 2015 - Posted by | college football, football |


  1. […] team, a weak FCS team, and two games in which the visiting team flat out blew the game (Nebraska: poor time management with the lead and Middle Tennessee: missed 41 yard field goal as time expired). Yes, there was an […]

    Pingback by Ok, for the important stuff: Illinois Football for 2016 « blueollie | August 1, 2016 | Reply

  2. […] a 41 yard field goal at the end and the game against Nebraska: well, let’s just say that Nebraska had the game all but won and had some terrible clock management with about 1:2x to play and Illinois out of time outs. Those could have easily been […]

    Pingback by What’s in store for Illinois Football this year? « blueollie | July 22, 2017 | Reply

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