CHAMPAIGN—After a 56-0 beat down by then-No. 11 Ohio State two weeks ago, Rutgers had hit rock bottom – particularly in the Big Ten.The Scarlet Knights tried to turn their lowest point into a turning point on Saturday, managing nearly 400 yards of total offense in a 35-24 win over Illinois.Gus Edwards led the way for Rutgers (2-4, 1-2), rushing for 91 yards and two touchdowns as it ended a 16-game losing streak in the Big Ten.The Scarlet Knights led the entire way for their first conference victory since 2015 at Indiana.
”Nobody gave us a chance to come out here and win a football game,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. ”I know that, but nobody gave up on each other in that locker room.”
Rutgers rushed for a season-high 274 yards. Edwards, Raheem Blackshear and Josh Hicks all scored touchdowns. Blackshear provided the most exciting run – a 19-yard gain up the middle on the Scarlet Knights’ second possession that he finished by running over defensive back Jalen Dunlap at the goal line.Jeff George Jr. was 20-of-38 passing for a career-high 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Illinois (2-4, 0-3). George also threw two interceptions, totaling 12 in seven career games for the Illini, who have now lost six consecutive Big Ten games.
”Losing at home like that, it’s a tough deal,” George said. ”We’ve got to find a way to be more competitive as a whole team – each individual player, myself included.”
The Scarlet Knights offense wasn’t nearly as effective through the air. Ash benched Kyle Bolin – who started in the team’s first five games – and went with Giovanni Rescigno, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 89 yards.