2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - South Dakota St at Illinois
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Sept. 10 at Illinois 56 ... South Dakota State 3
CFN Analysis: Welcome to college football, Donovonn Young. Illinois has been looking for the next great back to put up huge yards in the spread attack, and Young, a true freshman, ripped off 65 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries, but everyone got fat on the South Dakota State defense. Illinois averaged 7.3 yards per carry on the way to 364 yards of rushing offense, while Nathan Scheelhaase and the passing game were brilliant. Helped by a 9-of-9 day from Reilly O'Toole, Illinois quarterbacks combined to completed 16-of-18 passes for 155 yards and a score. The D did its part, too, stuffing the Jackrabbits early on and got a 27-yard Trulon Henry interception return for a score to put the game away in the first quarter. Next up is Arizona State, and if the Illini are as ready as they'll ever be.
(AP) CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Freshman running back Donovonn Young introduced himself to Illinois fans with a pair of touchdowns and Nathan Scheelhaase ran for two more on Saturday in a 56-3 blowout over South Dakota State.
Illinois hadn't won this big since 1944, in a 79-6 crushing of Illinois-Normal played in front of 5,000 fans.
The 42,000 at Memorial Stadium on Saturday saw the Illini (2-0) score on seven consecutive drives between their first possession early in the opening quarter and a punt with 22 seconds left in the third, when they were already up by a comfy 46 points.
Illinois rolled up 519 yards of offense and allowed the FCS member Jackrabbits (1-1) just 96.
Jason Ford is Illinois' starter at tailback and had 48 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, but Illini head coach Ron Zook makes clear that he prefers a deep rotation of backs to leaning on any one ball carrier.
On Saturday, seven Illini had carries, but Young showed why there's a serious buzz about the Houston native in Champaign.
His first touchdown was a short one that looked easy, 2 yards behind a big block by fullback Jay Prosch, with 3:58 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
Young's second score, however, was something else altogether.
The 215-pound back took a handoff from Scheelhaase at the Jackrabbits 41 with just under two minutes left in the first half and burst through a hole opened by Prosch on the left, running through four would-be tackles on his way to the end zone and a 35-3 lead. South Dakota State linebacker Mike Lien had perhaps the best shot at Young a few yards past the line of scrimmage, but found himself on his stomach grasping at air where Young's lower leg had been, watching the freshman sprint toward the goal line.
Scheelhaase took a seat in the third quarter with 93 yards rushing and 102 passing yards on six completions.
Illinois' defense never gave South Dakota State serious reason to believe it could compete with the Illini.
The Jackrabbits had just 54 yards of offense at halftime. They didn't manage a first down until the second quarter and had just six of them for the game. A week after the Jackrabbits ran for 162 yards in a win over Southern Utah, South Dakota had 25 yards on the ground against Illinois.
Illinois picked off South Dakota State quarterback Thomas O'Brien twice. One was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Trulon Henry and the other set up a late scoring pass by Reilly O'Toole to Evan Wilson.
O'Brien finished the afternoon a frustrated 8-for-18 with just 37 yards.
The lone South Dakota State bright spots were a 33-yard field goal by Kyle Harris in the second quarter that trimmed the Illini lead to 28-3, and punter Jason Schlautman.
Schlautman punted a lot -- seven times -- and averaged 51 yards a kick.
Illinois fullback Zack Becker left the game in the first half with a leg injury that Zook said will likely sideline him for the season. Zook didn't specify the nature of the injury but Becker's right leg was placed in an inflatable cast before he was carted off the field.
South Dakota State (1-0) at Illinois (1-0) Sept.
10, 3:30, BTN
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Here's The Deal … Illinois hasn't always been known for being air-tight when it comes to keeping its head on straight and staying focused on the task at hand, and it hasn't been above blowing the layup under Ron Zook's tenure, but this qualifies as the true cupcake on the lot of five home games to start the season. After getting by Arkansas State without much of a problem, and with a showdown against Arizona State up next, the Illini has to keep going forward, has to find more weapons to help out QB Nathan Scheelhaase, and has to show a little bit of dominance. The 33-15 win over the Red Wolves last week was nice, but it wasn't impressive. If the Illini can't get by the Jackrabbits with ease, and that's not a given for a program that pushed Nebraska last year and gave Minnesota all it could handle two years ago, then it'll be time to worry about staying with the talented Sun Devils next week.
Why South Dakota State Might Win: The Illinois secondary had problems with Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin, who wasn't able to run all that well, but completed 20-of-32 passes for 290 yards and a pick. The Illinois secondary is a strength, and the defensive line got into the backfield last week, but if SDSU can start bombing right away – and it has the passing game to do it - it might have a little bit of success on the midrange throws as the game goes on; Illinois will suffer a mental lapse at some point. On the other side of the ball, if the Jackrabbits can get into the backfield like they did last week against Southern Utah – making four sacks – the D might be able to keep this close.
Why Illinois Might Win: Illinois should come up with a big day through the air. SDSU's biggest weakness coming into the season was the revamped secondary, and the Southern Utah game didn't help the cause giving up 340 yards on short to midrange throws; it was a death by 1,000 paper cuts game. Scheelhaase has to get the ball out of his hands in a hurry and on the move, and if he can spread the ball around like he did against ASU, the Illini offense should be able to mix it up well enough to keep the chains moving. As soon as the strong SDSU linebackers start to cheat against the short passes, the Illinois ground game will work.
What To Watch Out For: In the battle to replace Mikel Leshoure as the main back, Illinois led Jason Ford take control of the Arkansas State game with 22 carries, but he only gained 86 yards and two scores. Scheelhaase will always be a big part of the attack, but he only ran for 24 yards on 12 carries, and as the franchise this year, the few hits he takes, the better. Ford is a quick, effective back, but he didn't show anything special last week. Young prospects Donovonn Young and Josh Ferguson got into the mix a bit, and they'll play bigger roles in what should be a mop-up game.
SDSU has a good back of its own in Tyrel Kool, a former receiver with good speed and nice hands. He ran for 107 yards in his debut and was used out of the backfield with six catches for 79 yards and a score. Illinois will keep a spy on him; stop Kool and you stop the Jackrabbits.
What Will Happen: It's Illinois, so it'll sputter and caught a bit too much early on as the running game hits a brick wall against the strong SDSU linebackers, but eventually the offense will mix it up just enough to pull away. The Jackrabbits will bomb away for 300 yards, but the Illinois secondary will come up with three picks in key moments.
CFN Prediction: Illinois 44 … South Dakota State 23
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