Cornerback Nate Hobbs and linebacker Dele Harding scored defensive touchdowns as Illinois tallied 28 unanswered second-half points and moved closer to bowl eligibility with a third straight victory, beating Rutgers 38-10 in Big Ten play Saturday in Champaign, Ill.
Dre Brown had rushing touchdowns of 10 and 2 yards for the Fighting Illini (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten), who recorded their first three-game winning streak since 2011 and their first in conference play since 2007. Brandon Peters was 6 of 11 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a key 54-yard run for Illinois, which is one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2014.
Rutgers (2-7, 0-6), meanwhile, suffered its 18th consecutive league defeat and 12th in a row overall on the road. Scarlet Knights freshman Johnny Langan was 5 of 10 for just 86 yards with a touchdown pass and ran for 41 yards.
With the game tied 10-10 coming out of halftime, the Illini took advantage of three straight Rutgers turnovers.
After Brown’s second touchdown run put Illinois up 17-10 with 9:08 to play in the third, Hobbs returned an airborne Langan fumble 36 yards for a TD to make it 24-10 with 7:29 left in the quarter.
Peters and Josh Imatorbhebhe hooked up for a 52-yard touchdown pass to push the Illini advantage to 31-10 with 3:30 to go in the third.
Harding then intercepted Langan early in the fourth and returned it 55 yards for a score.
Rutgers’ lone touchdown came with 12:26 left in the second quarter when Langan threaded a perfectly placed ball through traffic and into the arms of Mohamed Jabbie for a 31-yard touchdown. The Scarlet Knights played without top rusher Isaih Pacheco (541 yards, six TDs), who is dealing with a foot injury.
—Field Level Media