Minnesota-Illinois football: Score, stats, recap (October 21, 2017)

Minnesota beat Illinois, 24-17, behind a powerful rushing attack.

Minnesota improved to 4-3 this season and is 1-3 in the Big Ten. Illinois is now 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. The Gophers ran for almost 300 yards, with both Kobe McCrary and Rodney Smith picking up 100-plus yards. McCrary had 153 yards while Smith added 103.

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Minnesota-Illinois football preview, picks

Both teams are 0-3 in Big Ten play, though Minnesota has lost two of those games by a combined 10 points. Illinois, meanwhile, has all three conference contests by double digits. On MyBookie, Minnesota is a 13.5-point favorite. The over/under is set at 45 points.

Minnesota averages 27.8 points a game, the 77th-best mark in the country, and allows 19.3 (25th). The Golden Gophers have a balanced offensive attack, evident by their 177.5 passing yards and 170.7 rushing yards per game.

Conor Rhoda has been the starting quarterback for much of the season, throwing for 839 yards, 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. But in the second quarter against Michigan State, quarterback  Demry Croft came into the game due to Rhoda’s ineffectiveness. Croft through for 3 fourth-quarter touchdowns in his team’s loss to the Spartans. Overall, he completed 11 of his 20 throws for 163 yards and the 3 passing scores. He also rushed the ball 7 times for 31 yards.

Sophomore Tyler Johnson leads the Minnesota receiving core in receptions (25), receiving yards (472) and touchdowns (6). No other player has more than 11 receptions, 94 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the ground, the Golden Gophers feature a two-headed attack of juniors Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. Smith leads the team with 119 carries and 442 rushing yards, while Brooks has 71 rushes for 322 yards. However, Brooks has five touchdowns compared to 2 for Brooks. Senior Koby McCary (27 carries for 115 yards) has scored 3 times.

Illinois is one of the worst offenses in the country, averaging 18.8 points per game. The Fighting Illini also give up more than 30 points per contest.

Sophomore Jeff George Jr. and junior Chayce Couch have both taken snaps for Illinois this season. George has completed 54 of his 105 passes for 765 yards, 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Couch has 4 interceptions to go along with 1 passing score.

George Jr. has played the past two games. In a 45-16 loss to Iowa on Oct. 7, he threw for 246 yards but had 3 interceptions. A week later, in an 11-point loss to the Scarlet Knights, he threw for 308 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Freshman Mike Epstein paces the rushing attack with 346 yards. He averages 6.1 yards per carry and has found the end zone 3 times.

Another freshman, Ricky Smalling, and junior Mike Dudek are the top receivers for the Fighting Illini.

The post Minnesota-Illinois football: Score, stats, recap (October 21, 2017) appeared first on Land of 10.

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