Illinois At Minnesota: Gophers Defeat Illini, 27-7, On Senior Day

For more on the Golden Gophers, visit SB Nation's The Daily Gopher. For more on the Fighting Illini, visit SB Nation's Hail to the Orange.

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Kim Royston Named Big Ten Defensive Player Of The Week

For the first time in two years the Golden Gophers have a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. Defensive back Kim Royston had a solid game on Saturday as Minnesota ended its season with a 27-7 win over Illinois. He shares this week's conference honor with Lavonte David of Nebraska.

Co-Defensive Players of the Week

Kim Royston, Minnesota

Sr., DB, Minneapolis, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall

·         Recorded 13 tackles, the eighth time this year he finished a game with 10 or more stops, in Minnesota’s victory over Illinois

·         Added his first sack on the final play of his career, and had a pass breakup in the game

·         Had 11 tackles in the second half to finish the season with 123 stops, the most by a Gopher since 2001

·         Records his first career Defensive Player of the Week honor

·         Last Minnesota Defensive Player of the Week: Garrett Brown (Nov. 1, 2009)

Royston's honor came in his final career game, as the senior will graduate later this academic year.

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Illinois At Minnesota Final Score: Gray, Defense Key 27-7 Domination Of Illini

Minnesota's senior class got to go out in style as the Minnesota Golden Gophers played their best game of the year on Saturday afternoon, dominating the Illinois Fighting Illini for most of the day and emerging with a 27-7 victory in the Big Ten regular season finale for both teams.

The Golden Gophers defense was nothing short of dominant in the first half. Illinois went three-and-out on six of their first seven possessions, and the one possession that wasn't a three-and-out was a fumble that RaShead Hageman forced on Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase that set the Gophers up at the Illini 16-yard line. MarQueis Gray took it from there, as he rumbled into the end zone on the very next play to give Minnesota a 7-0 lead. Gray played a big part in the second scoring drive, too, as he hit tight end John Rabe for an 8-yard touchdown pass on Minnesota's next drive to make it 14-0.

A couple of Jordan Wettstein field goals gave Minnesota a 20-0 lead at halftime. Going into the locker room, the Fighting Illini generated all of one first down, and that came with less than a minute left in the half. Illinois had just 18 yards of total offense in the first half of play. The 20-point lead for the Gophers was the first time they had led anybody by at least 20 points since taking a 35-13 lead against Purdue back in 2009.

Minnesota wasted no time in expanding their lead in the second half, as they moved down the field on their first possession of the half and got into the end zone again, as Gray put up another rushing score. This one was a 14-yarder, and gave the Gophers a 27-0 lead.

Illinois did finally get on the scoreboard, as running back Troy Pollard got into the end zone for Illinois with 4:25 left in the third quarter. The 11-yard touchdown run cut the Minnesota lead to 27-7, but that was as close as Illinois would get, as neither team would score again the rest of the way.

It was, by far, the most impressive and dominant performance by the Golden Gophers this season. They more than doubled Illinois' total yardage output (338 to 160), and put up 248 yards on the ground. 167 of those yards belonged to Gray, who came up just four yards short of tying the Gopher record for rushing yards for a quarterback that he set earlier this season against Miami (Ohio). The Gophers also went 8-of-16 on third down, and only took two penalties on the afternoon.

The victory leaves Minnesota with a record of 3-9 on the season, and a 2-6 record in the Big Ten Conference. Curiously, the Illini have the same 2-6 conference record that the Gophers have, and finish with a 6-6 record overall. The speculation is that Illinois coach Ron Zook is on a very, very hot seat at the moment, as the Illini started out the season on a six-game winning streak. . .and proceeded to finish the season with a six-game losing streak.

That concludes the 2011 Minnesota Golden Gophers football season. We thank all of you that have made us your source for score updates and coverage throughout the season, and we will continue to be your best source of Gopher football updates as the off-season goes on.

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Illinois At Minnesota Score Update: Troy Pollard Gets Illini On The Scoreboard

The Illinois Fighting Illini finally managed to dent the scoreboard against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Big Ten regular season finale, but you have to wonder if it might be too little, too late.

Starting out at their own 20-yard line, Illinois put together what is easily their best drive of the day, going 80 yards in 12 plays and taking 4:34 off of the clock in doing so. The key play on the drive was a gutsy call by Illinois coach Ron Zook as he called for a fake punt on 4th-and-8 from the Illinois 22-yard line. However, the call was a successful one, as Jay Prosch took the snap from the up back position and ran for nine yards to squeak out a first down and keep the drive alive for the Illini.

The drive concluded with an 11-yard touchdown run for Troy Pollard, finally putting Illinois on the scoreboard, though they still trail 27-7.

Time is winding down at TCF Bank Stadium, as we have a little more than four minutes remaining. Barring a pretty sizable collapse by Minnesota, they should match their win total from 2010 and send their senior class out with a victory.

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Illinois At Minnesota Score Update: MarQueis Gray's Third TD Makes It 27-0

I'm not saying that Ron Zook is in trouble, but if anyone wants to pass this information along to him, the closest Kinko's to TCF Bank Stadium is located just a few blocks away.

He might need to run off a few copies of his résumé before he leaves town.

After Illinois had to punt it away again, the Minnesota Golden Gophers put together another nice touchdown drive on their first possession of the second half, moving the ball 57 yards in seven plays and four minutes to increase their lead to 27-0.

The Fighting Illini appeared to have the Gophers stopped on a 3rd-and-4 from the Illinois 36, but defensive back Justin Green was ruled to have interfered with Da'Jon McKnight on a deep pass downfield to allow Minnesota to keep their drive going. Three plays later, MarQueis Gray was cruising into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon, this one coming from 14 yards out. Jordan Wettstein added the extra point, and the rout is pretty much on in Minneapolis.

Illinois has made a change at quarterback in the second half, too, turning to Reilly O'Toole in place of the ineffective Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini have nearly tripled their offensive yardage output in the second half thus far. Of course, they only had 18 yards at halftime, so tripling it isn't terribly impressive, and it doesn't give them a whole lot of yardage. However, the Illini just executed a fake punt when it looked like they were going to punt it away, and Illinois will keep the ball.

We've got about six minutes left in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers lead the Illinois Fighting Illini by a score of 27-0.

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VIDEO: Minnesota Golden Gophers First Half Highlights

The Minnesota Golden Gophers played a great first half of football on Saturday afternoon against the Illinois Fighting Illini. Here are the highlights, thanks to the good folks at Gopher Sports, which include both Gophers touchdowns, a ridiculous 36-yard run by MarQueis Gray, and Jordan Wettstein's 51-yard field goal.


Hopefully there will be plenty of highlights to come in the second half as well. The Illini have just picked up their second first down of the afternoon, as they got the ball first in the second half, but Minnesota has forced them into another punting situation. The Gophers lead this one on Senior Day at TCF Bank Stadium by a score of 20-0 in one of the best halves of Gopher football that we've been witness to in a long time.

Keep yourself tuned here to SB Nation Minnesota for all of the latest news and updates on this afternoon's contest.

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Illinois At Minnesota Halftime Update: Gophers Dominant, Lead 20-0 At Halftime

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have picked a fine time to play their best game of the season, as they dominated the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first half of the Big Ten regular season finale, taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Golden Gophers' defense has already set a season high for sacks in a game with four in the first half, two of them coming from defensive tackle RaShede Hageman. One of those two sacks forced a fumble from Illinois' quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase deep in Illinois territory that the Gophers turned into their first touchdown of the afternoon, courtesy of a 16-yard touchdown run by MarQueis Gray.

A short field led to Minnesota's second touchdown as well, as they began the drive on the Illinois' 46-yard line. From there, they moved down the field in seven plays, completing the drive with an 8-yard pass from Gray to tight end John Rabe to increase Minnesota's lead to 14-0.

Jordan Wettstein took care of the rest of the scoring from there, as he added a 43-yard field goal with 1:17 left in the second quarter to make it 17-0. Then, on the final snap of the first half, he bombed one home from 51 yards out to increase the lead to 20-0.

Thus far, the Illinois' offense has only generated 18 total yards (compared to 205 for the Gophers) and did not register a first down until there were five minutes left in the second half. For Minnesota, Gray is already over 100 yards rushing, having carried the ball 18 times for 110 yards and a score. He has also completed seven of eleven pass attempts thus far for 85 yards and a touchdown.

We're at halftime of the Big Ten regular season finale at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are leading the Illinois Fighting Illini by a score of 20-0.

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Illinois At Minnesota Score Update: John Rabe Makes It 14-0 For The Gophers

The Minnesota Golden Gophers have extended their lead over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Senior Day at TCF Bank Stadium.

After the Gophers' defense once again forced the Illini into a three-and-out, they started out in Illinois territory at the 46-yard line. It took just seven plays from there, as MarQueis Gray got into a bit of a groove passing the football, finding Da'Jon McKnight for gains of 16 and 11 yards to move the ball inside the Illinois red zone. On a 3rd-and-5 play from the Illinois' 8-yard line, Gray faked a handoff, rolled out to the right and, when it looked like he was going to run, flipped one to a wide open John Rabe in the end zone. The replay confirmed that it was an 8-yard touchdown pass, and the Jordan Wettstein extra point made it 14-0, Minnesota.

The Gopher defense continues to be impressive, as they've already set a season high with four sacks on the day, and we're not even to halftime. In fact, the Illinois offense, with seven minutes remaining in the first half, has minus-one yards of total offense to their name, and have yet to pick up a first down.

With seven minutes left in the first half at TCF Bank Stadium, the Minnesota Golden Gophers lead the Illinois Fighting Illini, 14-0.

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Illinois At Minnesota Score Update: MarQueis Gray Gets Minnesota On The Board

The Minnesota Golden Gophers' defense forced the Illinois Fighting Illini into a big turnover deep in Illinois' territory, and it didn't take the Gopher offense long to capitalize.

On 3rd-and-7 from the Illinois' 23, Illini quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase dropped back to pass, but faced a heavy rush from Minnesota's RaShede Hageman, who got to Scheelhaase for his second sack of the game. The hit forced a fumble, and defensive end Michael Amaefula fell on the ball at the Illinois 16-yard line to give the Gophers great field position.

It took the Gophers just one play to capitalize on the turnover, as MarQueis Gray faked a handoff, kept it himself, and bulled his way into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown run. The extra point gave the Gophers a 7-0 lead, and the early momentum in this Big Ten season finale.

The Gophers' defense continues to be impressive, as Illinois now has just two net yards of total offense, and we have 12:40 remaining in the first half of play. The Illini came into this one reeling from a five-game losing streak after starting 6-0, and it doesn't appear to be getting much better for them thus far.

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Illinois At Minnesota First Quarter Update: Scoreless Game After 15 Minutes

Generally here at SB Nation Minnesota, we give you updates on the in-game action every time there's a score. So, if you've been wondering why there haven't been any updates on the action at TCF Bank Stadium thus far. . .well, that's why.

After one quarter of play in Minneapolis, we still have a scoreless game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Minnesota defense has really shown up to play on this Senior Day. Illinois has had the ball three times, and has gone three-and-out on each possession. The Fighting Illini have just six yards of total offense through the first fifteen minutes of play. The Gophers' offense has held the ball for nine and a half minutes of the first quarter thus far.

So, as we move to the second quarter of play, Minnesota has the football with a 1st-and-10 at their own 42-yard line, and they are still in a scoreless tie with Illinois in the Big Ten regular season finale for both teams.

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Illinois Vs. Minnesota Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will celebrate Senior Day and wrap up the 2011season when they host the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday afternoon.

The Gophers will be looking to finish the season with their second Big Ten win while trying ten end a three-game losing streak. Illinois knows all about streaks this season as they arrive at TCF Bank Stadium looking to break a five-game losing streak after beginning the season by winning their first six games.

Here's all the information you'll need to know going into one of college football's best rivalry games:

Game date, time: 3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Nov. 26

Location: TCF Bank Stadium; Minneapolis, MN

TV channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Illinois favored by 11

Series history: Golden Gophers lead, 33-28-3

For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit The Daily Gopher for the Wolverines and Hail To The Orange for the Fighting Illini. Here's the complete Week 13 college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news hub for more.

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Illinois At Minnesota: Gophers Face Struggling Illini

For more on the Golden Gophers, visit SB Nation's The Daily Gopher. For more on the Fighting Illini, visit SB Nation's Hail to the Orange.

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