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Champaign Dreams

Volume 1 Issue 6 November 14, 2023


After a homecoming loss that put the Illini's options for bowl eligibility in serious doubt. Two weeks later and with two late-game wins vs Minnesota and Indiana, Illinois seemingly had a solid path to 6 wins and a bowl game for the second year in a row. The last time that happened was the 2010 Texas Bowl and the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl. Ahh but reality rears its ugly head.


At Minnesota two weeks ago the first Quarter was back-and-forth with The Illini coming out on top 14-7. The second Quarter was all Minnesota as they put up 10 points to take the lead at half 17-14.

Jer'Zahn Newton by Joe Robbins Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The second half marked the return of Jer'zahn Newton from suspension in the Wisconsin game. He would get an early sack and drew a double team from the Minnesota defense on many occasions. He would end the day with 3 tackles and a sack.

Illinois had a 21-20 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Gophers would get the lead in the fourth at the

Luke Altmyer by Patrick Pierson vis Illinois athletics

5:53 mark. they would trade possessions and Illinois would have the ball deep in their own territory with a little over 2 minutes to go. Luke Altmyer would get sacked on 3rd down and have to leave the game with a concussion.

Sr. transfer John Paddock was forced into the game with the Illini down by 5 and facing a 4th-and-11, on their 15-yard line. with just over a minute left in the game. His first play was a 22-yard pass to Isaiah Williams near the sideline to get a first down. then hit Pat Bryant with a 17-yard over-the-middle bullet. After an incompletion, Paddock would find an open Williams for a 46-yard play and a Touchdown to put Illinois on top by 1 with just 50 ticks left on the clock. The Illini defense would hold and come away with the 1 point win.

Altmyer was 24-31 for 212 yards, 3 TDs, and 1 pick.

Paddock's drive was 3-3 for 85 yards and a TD

Kaden Feagin had 89 yards on 22 carries

Isaiah Williams had 13 catches 131 yards and 2 TDs.


For the next game at home vs Indiana QB duties fell to John Paddock and he made the most of it. Going 24 of 36 for 507 yards 4 TDs, and 1 INT.

In a true Big Ten shootout the Illini would come away victorious but need overtime to do it winning 48 to 45 against the Indiana Hoosiers.

It seemed neither defense could hold the other team back, The first quarter was somewhat slow. the Illini started with a field goal, Indiana put a drive together after an Isaiah Williams fumble on a punt return to take the 7-3 lead but the Illini would follow with a TD but would miss the extra point to gain a 1st Quarter 9-7 lead. In the second quarter, both teams scored a combined 37 points. Indiana would hold the halftime lead at 27-26. The Illini defense was strong in the third quarter giving up zero points. The Illini regained the lead in the 3rd with a 42-yard TD pass from Paddock to Williams. The Illini scored a TD early in the 4th but a missed two-point conversion would come back to haunt them. Indiana would come back and with 28 seconds left, they would tie the game with a two-point conversion. Indiana had the first crack in the OT. The Illini defense stood firm and the Hoosiers had to settle for a 41-yard Field Goal. Illinois would take over and three plays later Paddock would hit Williams for the winning score.

Paddock's 507 yards was the second most for a single game in School history.

Reggie Love via 24/7 Sports Isaiah Williams by Rich Grassle Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Par Bryant by Alamy Stock Photo

Reggie Love III ran for 140 yards on 24 carries.

Isaiah Willimas had 9 receptions for 200 yards and 2 TDs

Pat Bryant caught 5 passes for 131 yards and a TD

Casey Washington corraled 5 passes for 99 yards and one score.


QB John Paddock found it hard sledding against the Iowa Defense in Iowa City. One thing that became clear is that Paddock's lack of running ability was an issue. He was sacked in the end zone for a safety on Illinois' first series and continuously through the day had balls batted down at the line of Scrimmage due to his short dropbacks to get quick passes out. He was 1-3 in Illinois' first two possessions and would end the day 22-47 for 215 0 TDs.

Reggie Love III was the only healthy RB available he had 18 rushes for 67 yards 1 TD.

Isiah Williams led Illinois receivers with 8 catches for 105 yards.

It was a back-and-forth struggle with both defenses rising to the occasion time and time again. The lead changed hands 4 times.

Defensively Illinois played very well for most of the game. they sacked Hill 4 times twice by Seth Coleman

The Illini did outgain Iowa in the air 215 to 167, but Iowa did outrush the Illni 116 to 67.


Many fans think there is a QB situation with the Illini. Mostly due to Paddock's late-game heroics at Minnesota and the 500-yard + effort vs Indiana, If anything the Iowa game should put it back in perspective. Plus Paddock will be gone after this season and Altmyer will be the top candidate to start next year. As for the rest of the year plays out, the Illini have Northwestern this week and if they should win and get a bowl bid I believe it will be situational or at least should be.

Illini volleyball heats up!

After a rough start to the season, the Illini volleyball team has been on fire lately going 8-2 in their last 10 matches. After starting the season 8-10. In that stretch, they won 6 matches in a row including beating #16 Purdue 3-1. They are currently 6th in the BIG Ten.

Terry Rain via U of I Athletics

The Illini are led by Sr. Terry Raina (Outside Hitter) leads Illinois in the BIG ten in points with 585(5.37 points per set) and 508 kills, which is good for 2nd in the Big Ten. She also has 35 Service Aces good for 10th in the BIG Ten. She

She is supported by

Brooke Mosher by Sydney Laput via the Daily Illini Kennedy Collins Via U of I Athletics Cari Bohm via U of I Athletics

Redshirt So. Brooke Mosher (Setter) leads the team in assists with 1002, 8th in the Big Ten

Mosher also leads the team in service aces with 36 followed also good for 8th in the conference.

5th year Sr. Kennedy Collins (Middle Blocker) leads the team in hitting .358% which is good for 8th in the Big Ten.

Redshirt Fr. Cari Bohm (Middle Blocker) leads the team in blocks per set with 1.12 which is good for 10 in the BIG Ten.

With only two matches left on the schedule, the Illini might be hard-pressed to be selected for the NCAA tournament. Nebraska has already won the conference regular season title. and the BIG Ten does not have a conference tournament.

Illinois has two recruits signed for next season Ashlyn Philpot a 6-4 Middle Blocker from Greenville NC, named a #44 prospect by prep volleyball. and Laynie Smith a 6-3 Outside Hitter from Durhan NC, named to the top 125 by Prep Volleyball. Both Smith and Philpot play on the same club team, Triangle Volleyball Club. And should be good additions to an already good team.

Thanks for reading follow me on Twitter/X @tsotbgcs or contact me with your thoughts at GO ILLINI!

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