Illinois 14, No. 20 Gophers 6
The recap: The Fighting Illini cashed in a Tanner Morgan interception for a first-possession touchdown and had an 86-yard scoring march that concluded on the first play of the second quarter for a 14-0 lead. That turned out to be more than enough to beat the Gophers, who mustered only Morgan's 1-yard TD run with 4:56 left in the fourth quarter.
Illinois (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) made the Gophers (6-3, 4-2) play outside their comfort zone by holding Minnesota's run game to 89 rushing yards. The Illini dared the Gophers to pass, and Morgan went 15-for-28 for 180 yards with two interceptions. Three Gophers drives that made it inside the Illinois 30-yard line ended up producing no points.
Tight ends become targets
With their running game shut down, the Gophers had to pass, and their tight ends became an option. Brevyn Spann-Ford was targeted six times and caught five passes, including receptions of 12, 9, 9 and 17 yards on the Gophers' fourth-quarter TD drive. In the second quarter, wildcat QB Cole Kramer found tight end Ko Kieft for a 20-yard gain.
Very few explosive plays
Illinois was stingy on defense when it came to allowing explosive plays, too. The Gophers had only three plays that gained 20 yards or more. The first was Kramer's pass to Kieft. The second was Morgan's 24-yard hookup with Chris Autman-Bell to the Illinois 19 in the second quarter. The final came on the first play of Minnesota's final possession from the Gophers' 2-yard line when Morgan found Dylan Wright for 36 yards.
Gophers defense recovers after sluggish start
Illinois finished with 265 total yards (185 rushing, 80 passing), and 140 of those came during its first two possessions that produced the 14-0 lead. Led by Chase Brown with 67 rushing yards on those first two drives, the Illini averaged 7.4 yards per play. After that, the Gophers defense adjusted and held Illinois to 125 total yards at an average of 3.2 yards per play.
Up next: Iowa
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Kinnick Stadium, BTN
The skinny: The Hawkeyes ascended to No. 2 in the Associated Press media poll and AFCA coaches poll after their 6-0 start, but back-to-back losses to Purdue (24-7) and Wisconsin (27-7) brought the Hawkeyes back to the pack. They defeated Northwestern 17-12 on Saturday as running back Tyler Goodson rushed 21 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. The Hawkeyes replaced the struggling Spencer Petras at quarterback with sophomore Alex Padilla, who led three scoring drives and completed 18 of 28 passes for 172 yards.
Iowa lives and dies off turnovers. The Hawkeyes are plus-17 on turnovers in their seven wins and minus-4 in their two losses.