Saturday, November 13, 2010
Minnesota ends streak with rally at Illinois
By Adam Rittenberg
Minnesota just showed why you should never give up in college football. Kudos to Jeff Horton and his team.
Meanwhile, Illinois fans might be ready to give up on Ron Zook once again.
Minnesota ended its nine-game losing streak with a 38-34 come-from-behind win against Illinois. It marked the Gophers' first win since Sept. 2 and their first conference victory since Oct. 31, 2009, against Michigan State.
The most impressive thing from Minnesota was its resiliency after getting down 34-24 with 8:14 remaining. Think about it: you're 1-9, your coach has been fired, you're on the road and a bye week beckons. But the Gophers didn't quit, mounting two touchdown drives and scoring the game-winner on DeLeon Eskridge's third touchdown run, with 16 seconds left.
Adam Weber passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns for a well-deserved win.
This is crushing for Illinois and it once again raises serious questions about Zook's leadership. It's not merely that the Illini have lost two straight, but how they did. Defense and special teams have been Illinois' hallmarks this season, but both areas have let down in the past two losses.
Illinois had everything to play for today on Senior Day but came out flat. And after taking control late, the Illini let up and gave Minnesota new life.
Bowl eligibility seemed like a foregone conclusion two weeks ago. Now Illinois needs to beat Northwestern in Chicago or Fresno State on the road to get it done. Won't be easy.