Though his team was coming off an embarrassing 37-7 loss at home to Minnesota, Illinois coach Ron Turner didn't bother to deliver a Win One for the Gipper speech as the Illini prepared to face No. 9 Michigan at the Big House last Saturday. "How we played and how we responded to our worst loss of the season was more important to me than winning the game," said Turner after the game in Ann Arbor. "I told the players not to worry about the score and, no matter what happened in the game, to keep fighting."
That was sage advice, given what happened on the field. Illinois fell behind Michigan 27-7 in the third quarter but rallied for a 35-29 upset victory, only its second win over the Wolverines since 1984. Quarterback Kurt Kittner passed for 280 yards and four touchdowns, one of them a 59-yarder to halfback Rocky Harvey, who also ran 54 yards for a score. With the win, the Illini ran their record to 4-3 after having finished 0-11 two years ago in Turner's first season and 3-8 last year.
Turner got the Illini's attention the day after the Minnesota debacle—their third straight Big Ten loss—by putting them through a hour scrimmage in full pads. "We took a big step back when we hit the Big Ten schedule, but now we're back on track," he says. "This group has been through a lot of tough times, but I think they've seen that hard work and commitment eventually are rewarded."
USC's Disturbing Trend
The Trojans Are Their Own Worst Enemy
Three days after USC raced to a 21-0 lead at Notre Dame on Oct. 16 only to lose 25-24, Trojans coach Paul Hackett lambasted his seniors for their lack of leadership. "I think a good, contending team that sees itself as a champion will win those games," he said. "That has to do with seniors, with the older players stepping up and getting the job done....
We have some veteran players and some senior players who, quite frankly, are playing at a level that will not allow us to be a true contender in our conference....
That's the thing that is most disturbing."
Hackett pegged his team perfectly. Southern Cal raced to a 21-0 lead against Stanford last Saturday, only to lose 35-31.
Had! and Sayers Fire Up the Jayhawks
Two keys to Kansas's surprising 21-0 shutout of Missouri: One, the Jayhawks got 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Moran Norris, a 245-pound fullback who was converted from tight end two years ago, and two, they got Friday-night pep talks from Kansas greats John Hadl and Gale Sayers....