Illini Edge SIU In Opener, 42-34
Nathan Scheelhaase threw for career-best 416 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lead Illinois to a 42-34 win over Southern Illinois.
But the Illini had to hang on late to beat the Football Championship Subdivision school.
Trailing with 44 seconds to play and fourth down at the Illini 3-yard line, Saluki quarterback Kory Faulkner threw too high for leaping wideout Adam Fuehne.
Illinois was up 42-24 with as little as 12 minutes left.
Coach Tim Beckman admitted that Saturday's victory over the Salukis was 'not the most glorious' win.
"There's no question that we've got to make strides and learn from exactly what happened from them to be back in that football game," he said. "But I'm proud of this team, and I'm proud of the senior leadership."
The Illini offense was mostly Scheelhaase. He was 28 for 36 and his second-quarter touchdown passes to Jon Davis and Josh Ferguson built a 25-7 halftime lead.
Beckman called the senior quarterback's game one of the best he's had in his career.
"I thought he did a tremendous job of reading defenses," he said. "I thought he did a tremendous job of putting our players in position. This offense that coach Cubit (Offensive Coordinator Bill Cubt) does, you don't know understand how much the quarterbacks are involved in making things right and how much work they put in."
Ryan Lankford caught six passes for 115 yards.
The temperature hit 95 and the heat index 108. Big Ten officials said one linesman, Bob Davis, was hospitalized for heat exhaustion.