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Illinois Embarrassed: No Fight in Illini's 37-9 Disaster

Kristofer Green

Ron Zook and the Illini have fooled us for the last time.

Last season, coming off a road win against No. 1 Ohio State and a trip to the Rose Bowl, the Illini were expected to take the next step and contend for the Big Ten title.

Illinois was 5-7.

This season, again with Big Ten title aspirations, the Illini took the field at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis as favorites against bitter rival Missouri. Unfortunately, for Illnois' fans, that was the only thing the Illini did right.
Ron Zook's team looked confused, forgot how to tackle or block, had zero cohesiveness on either side of the ball and worst of all, the Fighting Illini lost their fight.

''I know we're a much better team than we showed today,'' quarterback Juice Williams told reporters after the game. ''So the frustration is nowhere close to creeping into my body.''

Yet, Williams was noticeably upset on the sideline early in the third quarter.

''I feel sick for these guys,'' Zook said. ''I feel sick for the Illini Nation. We're a better team than this. It's up to us to make sure we get things fixed. I don't know if we thought it was just going to happen because we're a better team or what. But we have to be ready to play.''

The Illini weren't the better team on Saturday and no one seems able to offer up an explanation.

''I can't explain it,'' receiver Jarred Fayson said. ''I was saying to myself in the shower, 'I'm at a loss for words. We didn't execute. That's obvious. We didn't win. That's all that really matters.''

Zook and his players vowed not to let this setback snowball, no matter how overmatched they looked against Mizzou.

''I sure wouldn't have thought we'd play like that,'' Zook said. ''I'm embarrassed with it, but I'm not getting ready to throw in the towel. I think our guys will come back--I know our guys will come back and fix things.''

Where to start is the question.

The Illini will take on FCS opponent Illinois State next week in Champiagn before getting the first of two bye weeks. That gives Zook, Williams and company two weeks to prepare for the Big Ten opener at Ohio State, which is followed by two home games against Penn State and Michigan State.

It was over when... Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass with 11:18 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Tigers a 23-3 lead.

Stat of the game... The Missouri defense held Illinois quarterback Juice Williams to 179 yards passing with no touchdowns and an interception. Last season, Williams passed for 451 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Helmet sticker goes to... Junior punter Anthony Santella who had five punts for 199 yards and an average of 39.8 yards per punt.

Injury report... Wide receiver Arrelious Benn and running back Jason Ford, who both left the game with ankle sprains, are expected to return for the Illini's home opener Saturday. As is running back Daniel Dufrene, who sat out the Missouri game.



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tigershaveRELOADED said:

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It was over when... (you've got a stat wrong)

the illini didn't come close to scoring 20 points. need to change that.

Kristofer Green said:


Thanks for the correction. It has been fixed.

Congrats to your Tigers. Looked really good on Saturday.

Kristofer Green said:


Thanks for the correction. Tigers looked real good on Saturday. Congrats on the win!

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