If this game against Michigan is really a chance for the Illinois football team to make a statement, the Illini sure did some talking in a modest way with its play in the first half.
The Orange and Blue scored three times, including taking the lead to go into the locker room 17-14 on an electrifying 57-yard screen pass from quarterback Juice Williams to junior running back Daniel Dufrene.
That score quieted a raucous Michigan Stadium crowd that had been on edge throughout the first quarter with its Wolverines scoring first on a three play drive that ended with a four-yard Sam McGuffe rushing touchdown.
The Illini struck right back though, driving back on seven plays for 38 yards with Matt Eller putting a punctuation mark on the series with a 48-yard field goal.
After that came more flashes of offense from both sidelines.
The Wolverines were the next to strike with "The Stephen Threet Show." The redshirt freshman quarterback accounted for 56 total yards of offense on a 61-yard scoring drive on the next Michigan series that ended in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Greg Matthews. The play was reviewed and upheld after the officials looked at the instant replay.
The Illini fired back though, scoring 14 unanswered points on the Wolverines with a Juice Williams six-yard touchdown rush and the aforementioned Dufrene touchdown.
From there, it was all defense with the two teams trading seven punts to close out the last 11 minutes of the first half.
Illinois quarterback Juice Williams had a superb first half, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown to go along with 36 yards rushing and a score.
The Illini and Wolverines have put on an offensive show, combining for 428 yards of offense in the first half alone.
Note: Alex Symonds is a journalism student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.