With the weather hot and humid and the clouds dissipating, the MSU Spartans came to the home of the mighty Illini with one thing on their mind: WIN! They have heard as well as all the country how MSU folds after a big win. The Illini had talked and privately many in the Spartan Nation had, today however, felt different from the beginning.
Historic Memorial Stadium, the home of some of the greats: Grange, Nitschke and of course Butkus, is falling apart but first year head coach Ron Zook has them on the up swing. MSU led by the Old cowboy John Lansing Smith was looking to continue the special season that although in itâ€™s infancy, was creating a national buzz.
MSU started with the ball and it was a three and out when Stanton recovered his own fumble on third down. State punted and Illinois began itâ€™s first drive at itâ€™s own 32.
The Illini started in an I formation but quickly went to the air, and it was completed out of bounds. They where unable to move the ball however against the gang green offense and they had to punt after a three and out. Kyle Brown took his first punt after the disaster in South Bend and it was a fair catch at the MSU 25.
MSU, led by sensational Drew Stanton took the ball and the beating was on. Stanton and the Spartans wasted no time showing why this much-heralded offense had that title. On a gorgeous pass to Kyle Brown, it was a quick 75-yard pass for the TD. Goss hit the PAT and with 12:26 left in the 1st quarter it was MSU 7 and Illinois 0.
The Illinois offense came back on the field after the onside kickoff and began their drive at their own 35. They were able to secure a first down on a nice 17-yard pass by Brasic on a good read over the middle. Again on the next series, Brasic had a great 13-yard run for the 1st down. Zook continued to show his offensive mind as the Illini continued to drive, all the way down to the MSU 11. Brasic had a nice 11-yard TD to Thomas and the PAT was good. That made the score tied at 7 with a 8:42 left in the first quarter.
Diego Oquendo took the kickoff from the Illini but it was a very deep kick and he was unable to return. Out came Stanton and the Spartans at their own 20. Javon Ringer began the drive with a 21-yard run. After a Stanton miss, Ringer ran a nice handoff for 12 more yards and another MSU 1st down. Stanton had a nice run on first down for 6 yards, but missed a wide-open Kerry Reed on 2nd that could have been six. He however continued his magic on 3d down when he hit Matt Trannon for 20, giving MSU a 1st and 10 on the Illinois 21. Teague ran for 10 on first down, taking MSU to the 10. On first down, Ringer had a magical run to the 1 and made a nice reach for the TD and had a acrobatic flip in the air but could not complete the score. After Ringer failed to score on 1st down, Teague lost 1 on 2nd down, bringing up a huge 3rd down. Out of the gun, Stanton tried a draw to himself and failed. MSU took the 21-yard field goal and the Spartans took a 10-7 lead with 3:54 left in the first.
Again out came the Illini but this time, gang green defense let them do nothing. After a quick three and out, we found the Spartans again with the ball from their own 48. A run by Jehuu and a Trannon reception gave MSU a first down at the Illinois 39. On a 2nd and 10 Ringer ran for 22 in a Barry Sanders type run, headlined by a great Drew Stanton block as the quarter ended. So at the end of the first quarter it was MSU 10 Illinois 3 with the Spartans driving from the Illini 17. On the 1st play of the 2nd quarter Stanton hit Reed for a 15-yard pass and Jehuu ran for 1-yard making it 2nd and goal form the 1. MSU wasted no time however completing this visit to the red zone as Stanton rolled to his right and hit a wide-open Dwayne Holmes for his first career MSU TD. The PAT by Goss was good and MSU had a 17-7 in the 2nd quarter.
The Illinoisâ€™s next drive however looked hopeful but again was stymied by the voracious MSU defense. The Illini again punted and Kyle Brown made another unwise special team decision as he fair caught the ball at the eight. A good rule of thumb for those of you at home is that if the ball is going to land within the 10, just get out of the way. He made the same mistake at the ND game.
MSU again began to drive however thanks to the wise decisions of QB Drew Stanton. He marched his Spartans down the field to the Illini 38. The Spartans had a 1st and 10 and were moving the ball. Ringer again took the ball for another 15 and yet another MSU 1st down. Stanton hit TE Kellen Davis for a nice 7-yard gain. After two running plays, one a nice reverse that Scott missed a block on or it would have been a TD, Kyle Brown dropped a pass but Stanton hit Scott for the 10-yard TD and with the PAT, MSU had a 24-7 lead. It was a 12-play 92-yard drive with 7:55 left in the first half.
Illinoisâ€™s anemic offense continued however to struggle and could muster nothing in itâ€™s next drive. Brown took the Illini punt at his 29 and he once again fumbled, he was however able to pick it up and run it to the Spartan 40. On came field general Stanton and with 6:32 left in the 1st half, he began yet another MSU drive. Stantonâ€™s first pass was complete to Davis. On 2nd down he lined up in the gun and with a 4WR 1TE set he once again completed a pass. Unfortunately for State, both passes had a net gain of zero yards. On 3rd down he hit a wide-open Scott who dropped the perfect pass.
On the next drive, once again the Illini looked hopeful but it still ended the same way with a Illinois punt, giving MSU yet another opportunity to drive and score before the end of the half. MSU began from the Illinois 49. Stanton hit Reed immediately for a 2-yard gain. On 2nd down Stanton hit a wide-open Jason Teague for a 21-yard gain, and a wise get out of bounds move to stop the clock by Jason. On first down, MSU did a direct snap to Jerramy Scott for a beautiful 16-yard gain. On yet another first down direct snap, Scott ran for a TD. The PAT was good and MSU took a 31-7 lead with 1:32 left in the 1st half.
On the Illini last drive however, Bazemore forced a fumble by Brasic and Thornhill got the fumble for the Spartans. It was now 1st and 10 at the Illinois 29. Stanton wasted no time however, hitting Trannon for a 29-yard TD strike. The PAT was good, and MSU had 38-7 lead with only 22 seconds left in the 2nd half. The 38 points in the first half was the most ever for a MSU team, led by Smith in the first half.
Here is how the stats looked at halftime for the beloved Spartans.
Rushing 157 yards
Ringer 7 carries for 96 yards.
Teague 4 carries for 15 yards.
Caulcrick 3 carries for 12 yards.
Scott 2 carries for 26 yards and 1 TD.
Receiving 224 yards
Trannon 4 catches for 68 yards and 1 TD.
Teague 3 catches for 46 yards.
Reed 2 catches for 17 yards.
Davis2 catches for 7 yards.
Stanton: 15 of 21 for 224 yards and 4 TD.
The Illini started the 2nd half with the same confused play as the first half. MSU continued itâ€™s domination after what looked like a small light of hope early and MSU got the ball on the Illini punt at their 20.
Ringer took the first play 59 yards down to the Illinois 21. Stanton hit a wide-open Trannon for 7 yards on 1st down. On second down Jehuu Caulcrick picked up 12 giving MSU a 1st and goal on the 2. Stanton hit Kellen Davis (one of many open Spartans) for the TD. The PAT was good and with 10:33 left in the 3rd quarter, the Spartans had a 45-7 lead. The drive was 4 plays and 80 yards.
The Illini limped on the field however and even though there was plenty of time left in the game, they looked and acted defeated. They gave the dwindling faithful some hope, but broke their hearts. The ensuing drive did nothing, giving MSU back the ball.
On came Drew Stanton again, up 38 in the third quarter, Coach Lansing willing to roll the dice. His pass was complete to Caulcrick a 2-yard gain. Caulcrick again had a 5-yard gain on 2nd. In the gun on third down, Stanton ran like a deer for the 1st down to the Spartan 39. On 1st he gave the ball back to Caulcrick who picked up a quick 14. Once again, the Spartans found themselves on the move with another 1st down. Stanton hit Carl Grimes for the complete on first down. On 2nd down, Teague took the ball for 5 yards and the Spartans were on the move again. The 3rd and 4 play was a shovel pass to Kyle Brown that picked up 15 more. 1st and 10 MSU on the Illini 26. Another direct snap with a fake pass from Scott that picked up 6 yards. On 2nd and 4, and about 2:10 left in the 3rd quarter, Hoyer replaced Stanton, and the Spartans picked up a 1st down with Jehuu. On 1st down, Caulcrick picked up another 4. On 2nd down ringer picked up 9, making it a 1st and goal on the 2. Ringer got stuffed on 1st down however, losing 3. On 2nd down and goal from the 5, Hoyer gave the ball to Caulcrick who got down to the 4. So, that brought up 3rd and goal on the 4. The Illini were exhausted and luckily for them, the end of the third quarter came. So the Spartans began the 4th quarter with a 3rd and goal from the 4 with Hoyer under center. Hoyer hit Dwayne Holmes for his 2nd TD. The PAT was good and it was MSU 52-7 with 14:56 left in the 4th quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Illinois had a great return deep into the MSU end, but Javon Ringer came out of nowhere for the big stop. Illinois quickly floundered the opportunity when they threw a interception on the first play.
Caulcrick took the first play for a 2-yard gain. On 2nd down Hoyer hit Reed for 10 more. After a penalty, MSU just continued to run the clock rushing the ball. On a 3rd and 7 however, Brian Hoyer showed some magic with a thread the needle strike for a 1st down.
The Spartans simply couldnâ€™t be stopped. They tried to just eat time off the clock, but the pathetic Illini defense couldnâ€™t stop them. Hoyer hit Kerry Reed on a 30-yard TD and the PAT was good, making it a 59-7. That was a MSU record for TD passes in a game at 7. It was a 9 play 80-yard drive. It made the score MSU 59 Illinois 7!
The Illini got a late scrappy TD and MSU got a safety to mercifully end the beating at 61-14, MSU!
This was an incredible explosion of football power. After the game former MSU coach Reggie Mitchell and Dave Baldwin had a heated exchange about the score but that was the most fight shown by any member of the Illini all day. Here are your final stats.
Stanton: 20 of 26 for a 76.9% completion rate. He had zero interceptions and 5 TDâ€™s. He also had zero sacks and his longest TD score was for 75 yards.
Hoyer: he was 6 for 8 for a 75% completion percentage, zero sacks and his longest TD was for 30 yards.
Ringer had 13 carries for 194 yards.
Caulcrick had 10 carries for 57 yards.
Teague had 8 carries for 41 yards.
Stanton had 5 carries for 12 yards.
Kahn had a8 carries for 38 yards.
Scott had 3 carries for 32 yards and 1 TD.
Brown had 1 carry for 2 yards.
Team total was 48 carries for 376 yards and 1 TD. Average per carry was 7.8 yards!
Total yards: 705
Special Teams: B
John L. Smith for doing what no one sense Duffy could do, he kept this team from slipping after a huge win.