With the Huskies on a bye this weekend, many fans were probably tuned into ESPN2, scouting next week’s opponent, the Illinois Fighting Illini. What they saw might have scared them, as Illinois dominated Cincinatti, 45-17.
The game was far closer than the score indicates, however. Despite falling behind, 21-0, in the first half, the Bearcats mounted a comeback that fell short due to a couple reasons. The biggest one being the apparently serious injury suffered by quarterback Munchie Legaux.
The turning point in the game was a questionable ruling on a fumble by the Bearcats at the 1-yard line. The original ruling was a touchdown QB keeper from Legaux, but after the officials went to the replay booth, they overruled the touchdown, saying that Legaux fumbled the ball before he crossed the plane of the goal line.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase then led the Illini on a 99-yard touchdown drive to nearly put the game out of reach, 28-10. If the Legaux had held onto the ball, or the officials hadn’t overruled the touchdown, it would have been a 21-17 game with over a quarter-and-a-half to go.
In addition to the 22-yard touchdown pass Scheelhaase threw to Steve Hull to cap the 99-yard drive, he passed for 312 yards and three more touchdowns. He’s now thrown for over 700 yards in two games to go along with seven touchdown passes.
While the score shows a blowout, Illinois didn’t dominate the Bearcats. Cincinnati was consistently able to drive on the Illini defense, especially when it broke out the no-huddle offense. At the end of the third quarter, the Bearcats drove 76 yards in 1:14 to score a touchdown.
The showdown at Soldier Field looks to be a slightly more competitive affair next Saturday, but there was nothing in this game to give Husky fans doubts about losing the game. As long as they are able to contain Scheelhaase and continue to run the hurry-up effectively, Washington shouldn’t see any issues against Illinois.