Illinois falls to Big Ten killer Western Michigan
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CHAMPAIGN — Jamauri Bogan ran for 189 yards and two touchdowns to lead Western Michigan to its second win over a Big Ten team this season, 34-10 over Illinois.
The 5-7, 187-pound Bogan carried the ball 24 times, battering an Illini defensive line that is considered the strength of the team.
The Broncos (3-0) came into the game as three-point favorites just two weeks after beating Northwestern 22-21. Saturday’s game was never that close.
Western Michigan opened up a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and finished the afternoon with 437 yards of offense, 287 of it on the ground.
While Western Michigan shoved Illinois (1-2) down the field, the Illini could barely sustain a drive. Their only touchdown came on a trick play, a reverse flea flicker that ended with quarterback Wes Lunt hitting tight end Ainslee Johnson deep down the right sideline for a touchdown that cut the Western Michigan lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
The two wins over Big Ten teams in a season is a first for Western Michigan, which regularly takes on Big Ten foes. The Broncos are just the fourth Mid-American Conference team with two wins over Big Ten opposition in one season.
Western Michigan: The Broncos’ win at Northwestern was a squeaker, requiring a late touchdown and some defensive heroics. The win at Illinois was a domination of a Big Ten school by a MAC team on the rise. Western Michigan ran the ball right at Illinois and the Illini couldn’t do much about it. The Bronco defense, meanwhile, stuffed Illinois’ run game.
Illinois: That feel-good period that followed Lovie Smith’s hiring is over and the reality that he has taken over a mistake-prone team short on talent has set it in. Smith said from the beginning he wants to run the ball, but lead back Ke’Shawn Vaughn had just 22 yards on eight carries Saturday. And while Lunt was had 312 yards passing, he lacks a true go-to receiver who can grab balls over the middle or consistently threaten other teams deep.
Western Michigan: The Broncos are at home Saturday, against Georgia Southern, before they start MAC play at Central Michigan, which has its own win at a Power 5 school (Sept. 10 over Oklahoma State).
Illinois: Illinois gets a week off before heading to Nebraska to open the Big Ten season on Oct. 1. The Cornhuskers provided the 2015 highlight for the Illini, who came from behind to win their meeting in Champaign, 14-13.