QB Nathan Scheelhaase, defense power Illinois' rout

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase turned a quiet 123 yards of passing into a pair of touchdowns and the Fighting Illini returned interceptions for two more Saturday in a 43-13 rout of Indiana.

Illinois (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) led 27-10 at the half and held on through a sloppy, mostly defensive second half, all with the help of five Indiana turnovers.

The Illini talked all week about two keys to the Indiana game: blunting the effectiveness of quarterback Ben Chappell and, after losing the turnover battle and the game a week earlier at Michigan State, finding a way to separate the Hoosiers from the ball.

In a first half they couldn't have drawn up much better, the Illini did both.

Chappell averages just shy of 310 yards a game and is almost never sacked. He spent the first 30 minutes Saturday under pressure and, while sacked just once -- a loss wiped out by a face mask penalty -- he was hurried and hit often.

The senior quarterback had 178 yards at halftime, and Indiana had 227 total yards to Illinois' 164.

But the Illini forced three first-half turnovers, two of them Chappell interceptions and all of which led to points.

The first was a pick by defensive back Tavon Wilson deep in Hoosier territory that set up a Derek Dimke field goal for a 3-0 first-quarter lead.

The second and third were due in large part to Justin Staples, playing in the freelance pass-rushing position Illinois calls a bandit.

First, Staples stripped the ball out of Wildcat quarterback Dusty Kiel's arms, wrestling it away for linebacker Ian Thomas to grab at the Indiana 23. The Illini turned that into a 17-yard touchdown pass from Scheelhaase to Jarred Fayson and a 17-7 lead midway through the quarter.

Minutes later, Staples hit Chappell as the quarterback threw the ball, forcing it off target for backup defensive back Patrick Nixon-Youman to pick off on the run. Nixon-Youman glided 68 yards down the left sideline for another TD and, with 7:07 to play in the first half, a 24-7 lead.

A pair of late field goals made the score 27-10 at the half.

Illinois padded its lead at 29-10 with a third-quarter safety, blocking a Chris Hagerup punt in the Hoosier end zone.

Indiana pulled backed to within two touchdowns at 29-13 on Mitch Ewald's 21-yard field goal with 1:53 to play in the third quarter, but the Hoosiers never looked like they had the pieces still missing from a comeback in them.

The Hoosiers last four possessions ended with a punt, a pair of interceptions -- one of them another return for a touchdown, this one 75 yards by Jonathan Brown -- and the end of the game.

Chappell finished 26-48 with 279 yards and a touchdown for Indiana (4-3, 0-3) but threw three interceptions that buried the Hoosiers. Receiver Ted Bolser had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.