Illini Exposure: A 'signature win'

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‘Signature win’ by Illinois Fighting Illini

Published 2019-10-20 19:15:27 UTC

Story by Illinois Fighting Illini


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It was a Happy Homecoming in Champaign, Illinois, as James McCourt kicked a 39-yard field as time expired and the Fighting Illini pulled off the biggest upset of the college football season, knocking off No. 6 Wisconsin 24-23.

“I didn’t even look at [the field goal]. I didn’t look at it. I rushed the field man, saw my dad, gave him a hug. He was the first person I saw. It was perfect.”

-Illinois running back Reggie Corbin

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Tony Adams picked off a pass for Illinois, who were 30 ½-point underdogs, at midfield with 2:33 remaining that set up the winning drive.

“It was an amazing feeling. My confidence was kind of down because I wasn’t playing [well]. Coach kept coming back out there and telling me he believed in me. I don’t know, they kept running the same play on me and it was about time for me to play on the ball.�

-Illinois cornerback Tony Adams

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Prior to Adams’ interception, Josh Imatorbhebhe caught a touchdown pass from 29 yards out with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter to cut the Wisconsin lead to 23-21. Imatorbhebhe’s score was the result of a Brandon Peters scramble and throw on second and four. The transfer from Southern California entered the game with a Big Ten-leading five touchdown catches on the season.

“My freshman year [at USC] we came back 20 points in the fourth quarter and kicked a game-winning field goal to win the Rose Bowl, but this is right there with it. Beating a number 6 team in the nation after losing four games, on home field, on Homecoming there’s nothing like it. This was huge for the fans.”

-Illinois wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe

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Fighting Illini fans young and old attending the 109th Homecoming game did their part during the game to create a home-field advantage. It was only fitting they celebrated on their field after the win.

“When I talk about a big win for our program, there’s nothing like seeing that locker room celebrate. We talk about our program and trending upwards, moving into a top facility, having top recruits here to see what we’re doing. It was pretty big.â€�

-Head coach Lovie Smith

“In my time at Illinois, this is our signature win. We have needed a signature win, against the number-six team in the country, we played them toe-to-toe. We saw so much FIGHT we learned a lot about our guys. One of the best wins you could possibly have.”

-Head coach Lovie Smith

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Footnotes: Photos by Craig Pessman (Illinois Athletics), Michael Glasgow (Illinois Athletics) and Patrick Gorski (USA Today SPORTS)

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