No. 17 Illinois beats Cornhuskers 26-9 for 6th straight win

Oct 29, 2022, 4:05 AM | Updated: 5:05 pm

Illinois' Chase Brown (2) rushes as Nebraska's Myles Farmer (8) grabs him from behind during the fi...

Illinois' Chase Brown (2) rushes as Nebraska's Myles Farmer (8) grabs him from behind during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

(AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Illinois’ breakout season keeps getting better.

The Illini’s 26-9 win over Nebraska on Saturday was nothing flashy, just workmanlike. Chase Brown and the top defense in the country did what they’ve been doing all year, and now No. 17 Illinois is on a six-game win streak for the first time since 2011.

“Our guys are locked into the moment,” second-year coach Bret Bielema said. “When you get better and better, everyone wants to talk about where you’re going to end up. What we need to concentrate on is the journey, and to get to where we are today has been probably one of the most enjoyable journeys I’ve ever been on in my life.”

Brown rushed for 149 yards and scored on consecutive series in the second quarter to help the Big Ten West-leading Illini (7-1, 4-1) beat the Cornhuskers for the third year in a row and secure their first winning regular-season record since 2007.

“I tell these guys all the time that I’ve been around some championship teams, and this team is that same caliber if not better,” Bielema said. “We’re an exceptional defense and we have playmakers on literally both sides of the ball and in the kicking game.”

Nebraska (3-5, 2-3) committed four turnovers and dropped its 20th straight against a Top 25 opponent.

The Huskers lost quarterback Casey Thompson to a right arm injury in the second quarter. Interim coach Mickey Joseph said Thompson’s elbow got hit, causing finger numbness. Logan Smothers finished the second quarter, and Chubba Purdy played the entire second half.

Illinois’ Tommy DeVito was 20 of 22 for 179 yards and two touchdowns. His 91% completion rate was a Memorial Stadium record for visiting quarterbacks with at least 20 attempts.

The Illini’s top-ranked defense held Nebraska to 29 yards on 20 plays in the second half and 248 for the game, the fewest by the Huskers since they finished with the same number against Michigan State in 2018. Trey Palmer, coming off a school-record 237-yard receiving performance against Purdue, caught one pass for 1 yard.

“Our guys took away some of their better players,” Bielema said, “and obviously when their quarterback went out that made a big difference.”

Brown, the national rushing leader, extended his school-record streak of games with at least 100 yards to nine.

He scored on a 1-yard run and a 12-yard reception in the second quarter to put Illinois up 20-9 at half.

His short TD run came two plays after his twin brother Sydney Brown intercepted Thompson’s tipped pass and returned it 37 yards to the Nebraska 11.

The Huskers then went three-and-out, and DeVito finished an 11-play, 72-yard drive with his pass to Brown with 23 seconds left in the half.

Brown also made a key downfield block to give Isaiah Williams a clear path to the end zone on a 46-yard catch-and-run on Illinois’ opening possession.

Williams’ unforced error in the second half put Nebraska in position to cut into the lead. Williams caught a pass in open field and, untouched, dropped the ball at his 23 for the Illini’s first lost fumble in five games.

The Huskers gave the ball right back when Sydney Brown picked off his second pass on Chubba Purdy’s ill-advised throw into the middle of the field, and they never advanced past their own 26 on their final four possessions.

“We came out with a great game plan and didn’t execute,” tight end Travis Vokolek said, “so I give all props to Illinois’ defense. Great team. Tough-nosed football team.”


Illinois: The Illini beat a West opponent for the fifth straight time. Brown, who came in with a nation-high 27.4 carries per game, ran 32 times and the Illini had a 16-minute advantage in time of possession.

Nebraska: Everything changed for the Huskers when Thompson went out in the second quarter. The Huskers gained just 36 yards the rest of the game.


Illinois missed out on three points, calling timeout just before Caleb Griffin split the uprights with what would have been a 52-yard field goal. When the Illini lined up for the second try, they were called for a false start and forced to punt.


The Illini will be in line for a promotion after three teams ahead of them in the Top 25 lost. They haven’t been in the top 15 since 2007.


Illinois: Hosts Michigan State for the teams’ first meeting since 2019.

Nebraska: Hosts Minnesota looking to beat the Gophers for the first time in four years.


More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

No. 17 Illinois beats Cornhuskers 26-9 for 6th straight win