CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (AP) — Chase Brown rushed for 180 yards on a career-high 41 carries and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, Minnesota was limited to fewest yards in five years, and No. 24 Illinois won its fifth consecutive game with a 26-14 win Saturday.
De Illini (6-1, 3-1) qualified for bowls for the first time since 2019 and will finish the day in first place in the Big Ten West.
Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 127 yards, his country-leading 14th consecutive 100-yard game and most of the Gophers’ 180 yards. It was the fewest yards against Illinois by a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since at least 2000.
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who was held to just 21 yards on a 4-for-12 pass, left early in the fourth quarter after receiving a blow to the head. Athan Kaliakmanis came in for the Gophers (4-2, 1-2) and was intercepted twice.
Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito, back from an ankle injury that forced him out of last week’s game in Iowa in the first half, ran for a 5-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to put the Illini at 20-14. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown.
Brown went on to rush over 1,000 yards for a second straight year with his eighth straight 100-yard game. He now has 13 100-yard games, the second most in Illinois behind Robert Holcombe’s 16 from 1994-97.
Brown was wide open on a wheel route for his 40-yard touchdown to complete Illinois’ nine-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. Fabrizio Pinton scored a 31m field goal to give the Illini a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Pinton connected from 23 yards in the third and 30 yards in the fourth to extend Illinois’ lead.
Ibrahim was pretty much all Minnesota offensively had to do. The Gophers were only 2 out of 7 on the third downs, finishing with the fewest yards since winning 133 against Ohio State in 2017.
No opponent had scored a touchdown at Memorial Stadium this season before Morgan’s 9-yard run in the middle of the second quarter. The game capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive, the Gophers were unable to replicate the rest of the game.
Quentin Redding’s 92-yard return from the bottom of the kick-off provided Ibrahim’s 4-yard touchdown, giving the Gophers a short 14-13 lead.
THE TAKE OUT
Minnesota: Just as Ibrahim returns from injury, Morgan leaves. The extent of the sixth-year quarterback’s injury could play a big part in how the Gophers end up.
Illinois: The Illini have won six consecutive home games, four in a row against Big Ten West opponents, and are off to their best start since 2011. With DeVito healthy, the Illini can be the preferred choice in every remaining game except for a Nov. 19 trip to No. 5 Michigan.
Minnesota: A challenging trip to Penn State No. 10 this Saturday.
Illinois: An open date precedes an October 29 visit to Nebraska.
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