Chase Brown rushed for 180 yards on 41 carries and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass, Minnesota was held to its fewest rushing yards in five years and No. 24 Illinois won its fifth straight game with a 26-14 victory on Saturday.
The Illini (6-1, 3-1) are bowl eligible for the first time since 2019 and will finish the day in first place in the Big Ten West.
Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 127 yards, his nation-leading 14th straight 100-yard game and the bulk of the Gophers’ 180 total yards. It was the fewest yards against Illinois by a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since at least 2000.
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, who was held to just 21 yards on 4-for-12 passing, left early in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to the head. Athan Kaliakmanis came on for the Gophers (4-2, 1-2) and was intercepted twice.
Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito, returning from an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game at Iowa in the first half, ran for a 5-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to put the Illini up 20-14. He completed 25 of 32 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown.
Brown went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second year in a row with his eighth straight 100-yard game. He now has 13 100-yard games, second most at Illinois behind Robert Holcombe’s 16 games from 1994-97.
Brown got wide open on a wheel route for his 40-yard touchdown to cap Illinois’ nine-play, 75-yard drive to open the game. Fabrizio Pinton made a 31-yard field goal to give the Illini a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Pinton connected on 23-yard runs in the third and 30 yards in the fourth to extend Illinois’ lead.
Ibrahim was around everything Minnesota had offensively. The Gophers were just 2 of 7 on third downs and finished with their fewest yards since gaining 133 against Ohio State in 2017.
No opponent had scored a touchdown at Memorial Stadium this season before Morgan’s 9-yard run midway through the second quarter. The play capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive the Gophers couldn’t repeat the rest of the game.
Quentin Redding’s 92-yard punt return in the first half set up Ibrahim’s 4-yard touchdown run to give the Gophers a brief 14-13 lead.
Minnesota: Just as Ibrahim is coming back from injury, Morgan comes out. The extent of the sixth-year quarterback’s injury could significantly affect how the Gophers finish.
Illinois: The Illini have won six straight at home, four straight against Big Ten West opponents and are off to their best start since 2011. With DeVito healthy, the Illini could be favored in every remaining game except for a Nov. 19 trip to No. 5 Michigan.
Minnesota: Challenging trip to No. 10 Penn State next Saturday.
Illinois: Open date precedes visit to Nebraska on Oct. 29.