Illinois Football: 3 Takeaways from close home win against Toledo

Bret Bielema, Illinois football coach (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Bret Bielema, Illinois football coach (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Illinois Football
September 2, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini quarterback Luke Altmyer (9) runs with the ball during the first half against the Toledo Rockets at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Illinois football might have a star in Luke Altmyer

The Fighting Illini scored on the first drive of the game. The offense looked dominant on its ten-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. Illinois proceeded not to score again until the third quarter, and that score was an interception returned for a touchdown. After the touchdown, Illinois ran a combined 14 plays on three drives, two punts, and a turnover on downs.

They couldn’t run or throw. The offensive line was supposed to be one of the best in the conference, but Toledo’s defensive front held its own most of the game.

Toledo’s offense held up well against Illinois’s vaunted defense. They did not back down at all. Anytime the Illini bowed up, Toldeo fought back. Rockets’ quarterback DeQuan Finn had a big day, throwing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He added 75 rushing yards and a touchdown as well.

When the Rockets figured out they could not run at Illinois, Toledo ran loads of stretch zone. Their offensive line did a great job of getting “a hat on a hat” running the football wide. What kept Illinois in the game was Toledo’s inability to score touchdowns.

This game might have been different if the Rockets did not settle for field goals.