|Singin' "Hail to the Victors" with the fans after the game. Always a great feeling!|
So glad to be able to cover the game with a media pass today. After a little festive tailgating, it was nice to be able to head up to the warm pressbox. But I will say that with the windows closed up there, you really can't hear a thing from the stadium quieter than a big roar from the crowd.
One of the best things about the media pass is that the press is allowed to go down to the field for the last 5 minutes of the game, and that was an amazing experience. Me and Greg from MVictors got a good workout running from endzone to endzone to watch the back and forth between the end of the 4th quarter and the 3 overtimes. But it was well worth it.
And man, is this place LOUD! I can tell you from the field level, the Big House was rocking...especially in the overtimes when we were down by the student section. The fans brought it today.
I know it's a bit strange to be happy about a game which saw your defense give up 65 points. But in reality, at what point during a shootout like this do you just stop caring about the points you're giving up when your offense is clicking the way we were today...with two different quarterbacks no less?
And let's not forget, Illinois has a good defense. And their offense is no slouch either. This was a very decent Illinois team that we beat today. It was ugly at times, we certainly didn't make it easy on ourselves. But it was a fun game to watch too. Fun because we won...of course.
We constantly put the defense in bad positions, especially in the 1st half with all of the turnovers. I know it's crazy to think this way, but we some good things defensively. I know the final score clouds how well we looked at times, but we did force at least 3 3-and-outs that I can remember. We forced Illinois to punt 6 times (we punted twice), and we did force our first fumble since the 1st half of the UMass game. I remember in the 3rd quarter thinking our defense was actually looking pretty darn good.
Our secondary had its moments, but I was encouraged by how well Ray Vinopal looked at safety. Cam Gordon was all over the field today. His effort was encouraging to see. And Courtney Avery made some very nice open field tackles.
Alright, I'm only going off of memory with my recap. I have the game on my DVR, so I need to watch this again to really analyze stuff. But let's just take a look at some of the ridiculous numbers from this game...
• 1,237 total yards of offense (UM-676, ILL-561) The most yards ever in a Big Ten game.
• 572 total rushing yards (UM-257, ILL-315)
• 665 total passing yards (UM-419, ILL-246)
• 56 total first downs (UM-33, ILL-25)
• 180 total plays (UM-88, ILL-92)
• 21 scoring plays in this game. 3 in the 1Q, 8 in the 2Q, 1 in the 3Q, 3 in the 4Q, 6 in overtime
• WR Roy Roundtree set the all-time record for receiving yards in one game with 246 yards. The previous record was Jack Clancy in 9/17/1966 with 197 yards against Oregon State.
• Denard finished with 19 rushes for 62 yards, 10 for 20 passing for 305 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. We're hearing that he left the game after a hit to the head. He was dizzy and had a headache on the sideline. But after watching him jumping around in celebration after the game, I'd say he's okay.
• I take back all those things I said about Tate Forcier when he fumbled his first snap of the game. He looked downright awesome in this game. He had 7 runs for 33 yards. Went 12 for 19 passing for 114 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. But more importantly, he looked composed and confident, even after that fumble in the 3rd quarter, and the INT he threw at the end of regulation.
• Illinois' average starting field position in the 1st quarter was the Michigan 45 yardline. They had 3 drives in a row start from the Michigan side of the 50.
More insight will be divulged over the next few days. Like I said, I need to watch this game again. But for now, enjoy the win. Enjoy the fact that we're bowl eligible for the first time in 3 years.