Notes from Illinois vs. Michigan.
Illinois wasn't crying foul after a 27-17 loss to No. 24 Michigan. After the Illini had 10 penalties for 107 yards, they're weren't blaming anyone but themselves for the key mistakes while losing for the ninth straight home game against Michigan. The Wolverines had four penalties for 35 yards. "Conspiracy or not, the bottom line is that they beat us 27-17,'' Illini linebacker J Leman said. "I don't feel cheated. It was a fair game. Sometimes calls don't go your way. That wasn't what lost the game for us.'' A roughing-the-kicker call gave Michigan new life on one touchdown drive in the first half. A late hit along the sideline by Illini senior Kevin Mitchell was worth another 15 yards of field position before the muffed punt by Kyle Hudson. "You don't teach face-mask and holding penalties,'' coach Ron Zook said. "When you teach guys to be aggressive, it is going to happen. Playing aggressively and playing hard is good. Against godo teams, you can't do some of the things that we did and get away with it.'' Muffed Punt Hudson's drop of a punt gave Michigan the ball at the Illinois 13. Two plays later, the Wolverines were in the end zone for the go-ahead score and a 24-17 lead. "(Hudson) didn't lose the game for us,'' Leman said. "That's football. That happens all the time. It's not a big deal. People make mistakes. No one player loses the game. No one player wins the game.'' No Hart Michigan senior running back Mike Hart, the nation's leading rusher, didn't play against Illinois after suffering a high ankle sprain in a victory over Purdue last weekend. Hart wore sweats on the sidelines. Hart averaged 154 yards rushing per game but couldn't overcome the injury in the first half against the Boilers. After a slow start, the Michigan running game finally gained momentum during the game's middle quarters. Michigan compiled 115 yards rushing. QB Shuffle Like Illinois, Michigan also used two quarterbacks. Senior Chad Henne started for the fourth straight game but shared duty with freshman Ryan Mallett. Henne's time was limited due to a stinger suffered in the first quarter. Henne completed 18-for-26 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. "He couldn't play there for a while,'' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "At the half, we were just hoping that he would be able to return at some point. That really was up to him.'' Williams-McGee Illinois also split time between starter Juice Williams and backup Eddie McGee. Williams directed both touchdown drives, but McGee's first drive after entering the game in the second half ended with Illinois' only three points after halftime. McGee's time in the second half was limited after taking a big hit, Zook said. Illinois completed 14-for-26 passes for 116 yards with one touchdown and on interception. John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com. For more coverage, read Illini Talk blog at www.sj-r.com and www.pjstar.com.