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University of Kansas Defeats Illinois 34-23: Dominance Dawns the Color Black





The Jayhawks are out to prove those who called last year's successes a fluke performance. After a 1st half-scare against Missouri State, those doubters seemingly got louder. It was time to put up or shut up for Kansas, and if they did not have a statement performance against the Fighting Illini of Illinois, it's hard to say when those skeptics would start to take them seriously. The situation was very similar for Illinois, who was coming off their own scare against MAC opponent Toledo, barely scraping by at the last second. For more regarding the implications of this game, check out the preview article here. This game could very well decide the trajectory of the season for either program and on the national stage, ESPN2 made it all the more important for both squads that they came out firing. With a 97% capacity home crowd and new-look black uniforms, the University of Kansas already had the advantage, and they ran with it.


Game Summary

The Jayhawks outscored the Illini 28-7 in the first half in what would prove to be an insurmountable lead. Jalon Daniels would finish the game 21/29 with 277 yards 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception that Daniels just barely missed, as well as 11 carries for 24 yards in his season debut. The running back tandem of Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw ran for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in exposing the weak Illini run defense. The biggest performance though came from Kansas's pass rush, racking up an impressive 6 sacks and forcing 2 interceptions. Austin Booker and Jereme Robinson each had 2 sack games. However, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for KU. Kansas got into penalty trouble, losing two players to targeting ejections. Those two players? Star corner Cobee Bryant and aforementioned EDGE rusher Austin Booker. They will both miss the first half of the upcoming game at Nevada. These penalties, along with other ones called throughout the game, whether questionable or not, resulted in the Illini putting up a few scores in the second half to at least make it mildly interesting, but the damage had been done. Luke Altmeyer ended up throwing 19/28 for 202 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, as well as being the team's leading rusher with 13 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. Star running back Reggie Love III was held to 8 carries for 45 yards after a slow start, only one receiver had over 5 catches, and Tip Reiman scored the lone receiving score. The defense for the Illini got gashed both in the air and on the ground, coming up with only 2 sacks both by Jer'Zhan Newton, and 5 total tackles for loss. They also came up with 1 fumble and 1 interception, but again, it was too little, too late. The Illini felt doomed once the first half was over. Overall, Kansas was the team that proved they're for real this game, and with another potential statement game against a rebuilding Nevada squad, Kansas could be ranked by next week. The Illini, however, look like they're in for a tough season as they face a strong Big Ten West. Only time will tell if they will be able to recover from this.


Turning Point of the Game

The play of the game happened after Kansas let up the lone Illini score of the first half. With 41 seconds to go as well as receiving the second-half kickoff, some teams would choose to simply kneel it out to go into half, especially with the two-possession lead. However, Kansas had two timeouts, and with a phenom quarterback the likes of Jalon Daniels at the helm, they felt like they could make something happen. It all started with a Daniel Hishaw draw play for 10 yards. After catching the Illini defense napping once, the Jayhawks decided to do it once again, only this time showing the arm strength of their star quarterback. Jalon Daniels heaved the ball downfield to receiver Luke Grimm, who caught it at the Illinois 17-yard line for a gain of 48 yards. The Jayhawks sprinted to the line for a hurry-up play and exploited a lapse of discipline in Illinois defensive back Tyler Strain, who haphazardly tried to grab at receiver Quentin Skinner in the endzone after getting beat warranting a defensive pass interference call. This set up the Jayhawks at the 1-yard line, where Daniel Hishaw basically put the nail in the coffin by scoring the touchdown with 5 seconds left in the half to put the Jayhawks up 21. This gut punch resonated with the Illini, and while they did keep fighting in the second half, it felt like the game was all but over after the Jayhawks decimated this Illini defense with their fast-paced, explosive offense.




University of Kansas MVP: Jalon Daniels

In his season debut, Jalon Daniels picked up right where he left off, making guys miss with his scrambling ability and pocket presence, firing off beautiful throws downfield both on the move and when he sets and throws, and overall, just living up to his Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year moniker. While his durability is still in question, his playing ability certainly isn't, he proved that with this past Friday's performance. Stats-wise, other than a pretty good completion percentage of 73%, it wasn't anything super special from the Junior QB, especially given some of his past MVP performances, but Daniels still showed he can make huge plays both with his legs and with his arm. With the playbook of Andy Kotelnicki by his side as well, Daniels has proven he is a weapon to be reckoned with. Daniels will look to continue to make his case for the Big 12's best offensive player against Nevada this coming week, a game where he can really open up the arsenal against an ailing Wolfpack defense.





Illinois MVP: Luke Altmeyer

Yes, Altmeyer had a less-than-stellar 38.2 QBR, throwing 2 interceptions and getting sacked 6 times. He still kept the Illini fighting though and made solid plays to keep morale up. He threw for the lone touchdown in the first half and threw a couple of really solid passes throughout the game. He also broke off a 72-yard scamper for a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter that energized the Illinois sideline. After getting hit hard in the ribs by Austin Booker on the proceeding two-point conversion, Altmeyer was slow to get up. The hit ended up being the targeting call against Booker which warranted a review, where Altmeyer was able to catch his breath and get back out there to run the play for the successful conversion. This toughness and ability to make a big play earned Altmeyer MVP honors for his team, while it may not have been the outcome they would have liked, far from it really, Altmeyer showed he can be a leader for this program and potentially right the ship. They will need his toughness and abilities when they go up against 7th-ranked Penn State...





Conclusion

The Jayhawks will look to keep the momentum going and go 3-0 in non-conference play when they go on the road to face Nevada. They open as 28-point favorites over the Wolfpack, which bodes well for the Jayhawks, being their largest spread in over a decade. They will certainly take this team seriously, but KU has the ability to silence the rest of their doubters with a convincing win in Reno. The Illini move on to a home matchup with #7 Penn State, who will prove to be an extremely tough test. With how the past two weeks have gone for the Illini, things certainly do not look ideal, but if they can pull out a win over the Nittany Lions it puts their season right back on track. Overall, a big Week 3 for both teams could prove to be extremely beneficial for the trajectory of their seasons.





1 Comment


Great recap!

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