Saturday, October 8, 2011
Illinois zips past Indiana
By Brian Bennett
How good is Illinois? I'm not sure we know yet, even as the Illini improved to 6-0 on Saturday. We know a few things, however:
- They can take care of business against an overmatched opponent, as they did in the 41-20 win over Indiana.
- The offense can put up plays and points quickly when it's clicking, as it did while outscoring the Hoosiers 30-3 after falling behind 10-0 early. The Nathan Scheelhaase-A.J. Jenkins duo is as good as it gets in the Big Ten right now. They rolled up over 500 yards of offense, including more than 300 on the ground.
- They can win on the road, although Indiana might have the worst home-field advantage in the league. Still, it was the first game away from Champaign this season for Illinois.
Ron Zook's team didn't play a perfect game by any measure, and its mistakes would likely have been much costlier against a better team on the road. But 6-0 is 6-0, and with a struggling Ohio State team coming to Champaign next week followed by a trip to Purdue, the Illini have a chance to be 8-0 and put some pressure on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division.
For Indiana, it was another loss. But the Hoosiers got off to a good start and showed some fight, slicing the lead to 34-20 late. They may have also found their quarterback of the future, as true freshman Tre Roberson completed 11 of 17 passes for 148 yards. Roberson still has a lot to learn but is athletic and gives the offense a dual-threat weapon. Head coach Kevin Wilson will now have to decide whether to play Roberson more or go with Dusty Kiel or Ed Wright-Baker, who are just sophomores themselves.