How it happened: Illinois found a way in the second half to escape another Western Michigan upset. It was three years ago that the Broncos knocked off the Illini in Detroit. Trailing 13-10 at halftime on Saturday, Illinois rallied with a 14-yard touchdown run by freshman Donovonn Young and two Derek Dimke field goals to pull out the win. Dimke connected on a 21-yard field goal with 8:14 left for the game-winning points. The Illini’s defense held strong from there, coming through again after leading the way in last week’s 17-14 win over Arizona State. Western Michigan was held to seven points in the second half.
What it means: This was a game that scared Illinois, and Western Michigan proved those fears to be justified. While it wasn’t pretty, Illinois survived another close contest and remained undefeated. Illinois is now 4-0 for the first time since 1951, which also happens to be the last year it claimed a national championship.
Outside the box: Illinois’ early schedule was nicely set up for it to be undefeated. The Illini have opened the season with four home games and still have one more to go.
What’s next: Illinois opens its Big Ten schedule with in-state rival Northwestern next week. The Illini’s offense went wild in a 48-27 win over Northwestern at Wrigley Field last season. Northwestern had this week off and is hoping to return all-conference quarterback Dan Persa next week.