After an encouraging first-half performance, Illinois fell flat after halftime.
The result was yet another season-opening loss to rival Missouri, which thankfully goes off the Illini schedule in 2011.
Leading 13-3 at halftime, redshirt freshman quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini offense couldn't do much at all in the final 30 minutes, generating only four first downs and 85 total yards. Scheelhaase, making his first career start, struggled in the passing game, completing just 9 of 23 attempts for 81 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Ball security will be Scheelhaase's top priority going forward after Illinois committed four turnovers in the opener. Running back Mikel LeShoure had a nice performance (20 carries, 112 yards), but Paul Petrino needs more balance on offense.
Illinois' defense also took a step back after halftime, as Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert started capitalizing on a shorthanded Illini secondary. Gabbert once again completed a high percentage of his passes (34-for-48) and tossed a pair of touchdown passes.
I can't fault Vic Koenning's defense too much, though. This was a very tough opening matchup.