Reggie Corbin rushed for a career-high 137 yards and a touchdown, Illinois dominated the ground game and snapped a 13-game losing streak in Big Ten play with a 38-17 victory over host Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
Corbin surpassed his career high of 98 yards on Sept. 15 against South Florida in the first half when he had 128 of Illinois’ 228 yards. The junior finished with 11 carries and averaged 12.5 yards per carry.
Corbin scored on a dynamic 73-yard run late in the first half and posted his first 100-yard game.
Quarterback A.J. Bush returned after missing the previous 11 quarters with a hamstring injury and did most of his damage on the ground. Bush gained 116 yards on 18 carries and two rushing TDs while completing 10 of 18 passes for 89 yards.
Illinois (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) finished with 330 rushing yards and won its first conference game since beating Michigan State at home on Nov. 5, 2016. The Illini also halted a nine-game road losing streak in conference play that dated back to their last visit to Rutgers in Oct. 2016.
Rutgers (1-5, 0-3) allowed at least 200 rushing yards for the fifth straight game and lost its fifth consecutive contest. The Scarlet Knights were called for 10 penalties for 105 yards and committed three turnovers, upping their season total to 16.
Scarlet Knights quarterback Artur Sitkowski completed 29 of 46 passes for 267 yards but threw three interceptions.
Rutgers took a 7-3 lead on a 32-yard run by Jonathan Hilliman with 5:18 remaining in the first quarter, but Illinois took control thanks to its potent ground game. The Illini went ahead late in the first on a 3-yard run by Bush following his fumble recovery and then used a pair of long runs to take a 24-7 lead in a span of 2:19.
Bush made it 17-7 with a 41-yard run on third-and-four and Illinois took a 17-point lead on Corbin’s run down the left sideline on a first down with 7:17 remaining. The Scarlet Knights cut the deficit to 24-14 on a 7-yard catch by Travis Volkolek but Illinois extended the lead to 31-14 on Ricky Smalling’s diving catch in the left corner of the end zone less than a minute into the fourth.
Rutgers threatened to inch closer but settled for a 20-yard field goal with about five minutes left. Illinois sealed it on the first play of its next drive when Mike Epstein raced in alone down the left sideline for a 41-yard score following a failed onside kick by Rutgers.
—Field Level Media