Illini Struggle in Homecoming Loss To Michigan State, 42-3
by The Associated Press, with additional reporting from Illinois Public Media
Connor Cook threw for three touchdowns and Michigan State's defense locked down Illinois Saturday on the way to a 42-3 win.
The Spartans (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) used a big defensive stand and a back-breaking drive to crush the Illini, scoring 14 points in the second, third, and fourth quarters.
Illinois (3-4, 0-3) was trailing 7-3 midway through the second quarter when it failed twice to punch the ball in from the Spartans 1-yard line. Michigan State took over and drove 99 yards for a touchdown. Cook found receiver Bennie Fowler from 18 yards for a 14-3 lead.
The Fighting Illini are in the midst of a 17-game losing streak to Big Ten opponents. Despite the lopsided loss, Fighting Illini Coach Tim Beckman said he felt there's a lot left to play for in the 2013 campaign.
"You've got five games left, we're 3-4, we're not 0-7," he said. "(We've) felt success, I believe in every one of these football players that we have, and our job as a coaching staff and as a football team and everybody involved in this family is to move forward and know we've got to get ourselves ready for Penn State (on the road next Saturday.)"
Cook finished an efficient 15-of-16 for 208 yards. Tailback Jeremy Langford had 104 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns.
The Spartans defense came into the game ranked first in the nation in total defense and held Illinois to just 128 yards. That included 25 on the ground.
Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was 13-of-21 for 103 yards and an interception.