CHAMPAIGN - Where was the offense?
Those looking for a shootout Saturday in Memorial Stadium were disappointed, as both Illinois and Purdue struggled to put points on the board in the first half.
The first quarter was unkind for both teams. Illinois' junior receiver Ryan Lankford fumbled twice, while Purdue managed only eight total yards.
The offenses sprang to life, somewhat, in the second quarter. Purdue put together two long drives, but settled for short field goals on both occasions.
Tim Beckman took a chance on kicker Taylor Zalewski, who rewarded the coach by nailing a 54-yard field -- the third longest kick in school history.
Player of the half: Purdue running back Akeem Shavers. The senior had seven carries for 41 yards, sparking the Purdue offense to life in the second quarter. Behind Shaver's running and a shift to a quick passing attack, Purdue put together two scoring drives.
Stat of the half: Third-down disappointment. Again. It seems as though this happens each Saturday, but third down wasn't pretty. The two teams were a combined 3-of-13 on third down attempts.
What went right: The defense was ready to play. Purdue isn't exactly a model of offensive excellence, but credit the Illinois defense for coming out ready to go. The Illini forced a three-and-out on each of the Boilermakers first three possessions.
What went wrong. Lack of respect for the football. In total, Illinois had three turnovers in the first half -- two from Lankford and another by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Illinois caught a break -- no points were scored off the mishaps.