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					SPORTS                                                                                                            6
                                                                                                                              The Cubs’ magic
                                                                                                                            number after a
                                                                                                                            win Saturday and
                                                                                                                            a Brewers loss.
                                                                                                                                                                D           Sunday, September 23, 2007
                                                                                                                                                       Sports Editor Jim Rossow 217-351-5231 jrossow@news-gazette.com




                                                                                 Illini 27, Hoosiers 14



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                                  MARCH                                                                                                                                                     EXTRA
                                                                                                                                                                                            POINTS
 positive                                                                                                                                                                                   STAR OF THE GAME
                                                                                                                                                                                            RASHARD MENDENHALL

   steps                                                                                                                                                                                      The junior apparently has had
                                                                                                                                                                                            no trouble adjusting to being
                                                                                                                                                                                            the primary Illinois tailback,
                                                                                                                                                                                            gaining a career-best 214 yards.

 for Illini                                                                                                                                                                                 He’s the school’s first 200-yard
                                                                                                                                                                                            rusher in nine years. Menden-
                                                                                                                                                                                            hall ought to be a lock for Big
                                                                                                                                                                                            Ten Player of the Week.
By BOB ASMUSSEN                                                                                                                                                                                                           D-4
rasmusse@news-gazette.com
   BLOOMINGTON, Ind. —
When last seen in Champaign,
the Illinois football team was a
shaky 1-1, coming off a ho-hum                                                                                                                                                              NUMBERS GAME
offensive game against I-AA
Western Illinois.
   But the chests will be puffed
out for the Illini’s next appear-
ance at Memorial Stadium,
                                                                                                                                                                                                           7
                                                                                                                                                                                              That’s how many sacks the Illi-
when a ranked Penn State team
                                                                                                                                                                                            ni had against normally elusive
visits next Saturday. Consecu-
                                                                                                                                                                                            Kellen Lewis. Before Saturday,
tive road wins and a three-game
                                                                                                                                                                                            the Hoosiers had been sacked
winning streak will do that for a
                                                                                                                                                                                            twice in three games. Illinois
team.
                                                                                                                                                                                            end Will Davis had double that
   The Illinois defense forced
                                                                                                                                                                                            total by himself.
four turnovers and recorded
seven sacks in a 27-14 victory
against Indiana on Saturday.
While making Dick Butkus
and Simeon Rice proud, the
Illini ended a string of 13 con-                                                                                                                                                            WHAT IT MEANS
secutive losses in Big Ten open-                                                                                                                                                              Illinois has its first three-game
ers.                                                                                                                                                                                        winning streak since running off
   “I don’t know that I’ve ever                                                                                                                                                             seven in a row during the 2001
been so excited about being                                                                                                                                                                 Big Ten title season. And Ron
able to go back home and play,”                                                                                                                                                             Zook doesn’t have to worry
Illinois coach Ron Zook said.                                                                                                                                                               about continuing his string of
“Even though it’s only been two                                                                                                                                                             two-win seasons at Illinois.
games, it seems like it’s been a
long, long time since we’ve
been able to get back in our sta-
dium.”
   “I think (the fans) are excit-                                                                                                                                                           WHAT’S NEXT
ed,” Illinois linebacker J Leman                                                                                                                                                               After being gone three of the
said. “They expect big things,                                                                                                                                                              first four weeks, the Illini return
and we expect big things.”                                                                                                                                                                  home for a two-game home-
   Going into the weekend,                                                                                                                                                                  stand. First up is legend Joe
there were about 1,000 tickets                                                                                                                                                              Paterno and 3-1 Penn State. The
left for the upcoming game                                                                                                                                                                  Nittany Lions should be angry
against Penn State.                                                                                                                                                                         coming off Saturday’s loss at
   “After this win, they should                                                                                                                                                             Michigan.
go grab them,” Illinois corner-
back Vontae Davis said.
   If your name was Davis, you
played a huge part in the Illinois     ABOVE: Illinois running back
win.                                   Rashard Mendenhall tiptoes                                                                                                                           WHAT’S INSIDE
   Cornerback Davis blanketed              over a defender and into                                                                                                                                             Game notes.
Indiana star receiver James              the end zone for a 15-yard
Hardy, holding him to 42 yards.                                                                                                                                                                                           D-4
He also blocked a punt and
                                               touchdown reception                                                                                                                                             Columnist
made a game-clinching inter-           Saturday as the Illini sideline                                                                                                                                       Loren Tate says
ception in the end zone.                    erupts. Mendenhall also                                                                                                                                          thank the
   Defensive end Will Davis had         scored on a 5-yard run and                                                                                                                                           ‘grunts’ — the
four sacks and made life miser-        racked up a career-high 214                                                                                                                                           offensive and
able for Indiana quarterback                rushing yards in a 27-14                                                                                                                                         defensive line-
Kellen Lewis.                                                                                                                                                                                                men — for Illi-
                                             victory against Indiana.
   The Illini won with defense,                                                                                                                                                             nois’ success Saturday.
special teams and the hard run-       RIGHT: Illinois defensive back                                                                                                                                                      D-5
ning of Rashard Mendenhall,                                                                                                                                                                   Sports editor Jim Rossow’s
                                     Vontae Davis (1) intercepts the
who averaged 7.9 yards on 27                                                                                                                                                                review of Illinois’ victory.
                                     Hoosiers’ last-ditch effort in the
romps.
                                            fourth quarter. Davis also                                                                                                                                                    D-5
   And the Illini won without a
big game from quarterback              blocked a punt — his second                                                                                                                            Michigan knocks off 10th-
Juice Williams. The sophomore         this season — to help the Illini                                                                                                                      ranked Nittany Lions, plus a look
hit 13 of 28 passes for 98            win back-to-back road games.                                                                                                                          around the rest of the Big Ten,
yards and was intercepted                                                                                                                                                                   state and country.
twice.                                         Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette                                                                                                                                                D-6

                                                                                                                                                                                                       City population and
STATE OF THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE                                                                                                                                    Normal
                                                                                                                                                                  50,681     Go figure enrollment figures from
                                                                                                                                                                                       around the Big 12:
There are rumors
       of Mattoon
  wanting out. Of
                                     as ‘stable’ as ever                                                                                                 Bloomington
                                                                                                                                                            70,970                    Urbana
                                                                                                                                                                                      38,658
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Danville
                                                                                                                                                                                                              32,760
  Decatur losing a                   By FRED KRONER
                                     fkroner@news-gazette.com
                                                                             that can trace its roots to a pre-
                                                                             World War II era.
                                                                                                                  the schools fielding teams in 20
                                                                                                                  sports.                                                Champaign
                                                                                                                                                                           73,685
    school. And of                      The Big 12 Conference was
                                     around before the existence of
                                                                                “We take pride in being a
                                                                             Big 12 school,” Danville athlet-
                                                                                                                    Even with the advent of
                                                                                                                  cell phones and video games,
     Bloomington-                    contact lenses and air condi-           ic director B.J. Luke said. “I       the Big 12 continues to flour-                                               2006-07 enrollments
                                                                                                                                                                                               Bloomington — 1,537
                                     tioning.                                wouldn’t want to see Danville        ish.
Normal needing a                        It was created before the            be in any other conference.”           Consider this: Of those 20          Decatur                                Centennial — 1,471
                                     Dodgers moved to Los Angeles               The league has had members        sports that are part of the Big       77,047                                 Central — 1,326
 third school. But                   and prior to the federal man-           as far away from Champaign-          12’s play list, the league has had                                           Danville — 1,605
                                     date that led to girls’ inter-          Urbana as Springfield and            individual state champions or                                                Eisenhower — 1,220
    Big 12 athletic                  scholastic athletics.                   Peoria. For the past four years      teams placing among the                         Mattoon                      MacArthur — 1,295
                                        For high school athletes in          — since Rantoul departed             top eight in 18 sports this                      17,340                      Mattoon — 1,041
  directors say the                  the central part of the state, the      after the 2003-04 school year —      decade.                                                                      Normal Community — 1,828
                                     Big 12 represents a storied tra-        it has been a stable 10-school                                            Note: Estimated population figures      Normal West — 1,633
   conference is ...                 dition of success and excellence        conference with the majority of              Please see BIG 12, D-11      from 2006 U.S. Census Bureau            Urbana — 1,224

				
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