Illinois running back Reggie Corbin (2) breaks away to the end zone in the second half of a NCAA college football game against Minnesota, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Holly Hart)

FOOTBALL
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The hot seat Illinois coach Lovie Smith has found himself on lately cooled down a bit on Saturday as Illinois beat Minnesota 55-31 in a game that saw some impressive and long scoring runs.

Meanwhile, things are heating up for Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, who has watched his team drop five of its last six games.

Illinois managed to win in dramatic fashion.

Reggie Corbin rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns — both coming on runs of more than 70 yards — to become the first Illini player to rush for two 70-yard-plus touchdowns in a single game since 1944.

“Reggie plays like that every game,” Smith said. “Week in and week out, he just plays football for us.”

It was Corbin’s fourth 100-yard rushing game in the last five games.

Minnesota (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) had trouble all game stopping the run, giving up 430 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Illinois racked up 646 total yards of offense.

“It’s a lack of consistency that’s hurting us,” Fleck said. “And it’s all over the field, on offense, defense, special teams. This was just not a good football game for us. And that’s on me.”

The 55 points were the most for Illinois (4-5, 2-4) since Smith took over as head coach before the 2016 season.

“We didn’t tackle anyone,” Fleck said. “I think our speed got exposed on defense. They were running away from us.”

Illinois quarterback AJ Bush managed the game well and accounted for four Illinois touchdowns, going 18 of 25 for 216 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Bush rushed for 127 yards on 14 carries and two more touchdowns.

“AJ played well, both running and passing,” Smith said. “He’s shown us what kind of a leader he is.”

Redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan got the start again at quarterback for Minnesota after an excellent performance in beating Indiana last week in his first career start. True freshman Zack Annexstad won the job in fall camp, hurt his ankle in the third game, played through it rather ineffectively and then suffered an unspecified midsection injury in a loss at Nebraska on Oct. 20.

Morgan had the first 300-yard passing game last week for the Gophers since 2015 and may have secured the starting role even if Annexstad gets healthy.

Morgan was 14 of 27 for 258 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois.

Illinois led 24-17 at the half.

Sandwiched between the Illini scoring runs to open the game was a 12-play Minnesota drive that resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Mohamed Ibrahim.

QUICK START

Illinois’ first two possessions resulted in two 72-yard touchdown runs — one by Corbin and the other by Dre Brown. Both came on second-and-long and both backs were untouched once they cleared the line of scrimmage. Corbin later ripped off a 77-yard scoring run.

Brown rushed for 92 yards and one touchdown. He was playing in lieu of injured starting running back Mike Epstein, who generally shares carries with Corbin.

TURNING POINT

Trailing 31-17 midway through the third quarter, the Gophers were starting to click offensively and were driving when running back Seth Green fumbled on the Illinois 30-yard line.

On the next play, Bush lofted a pass to Daniel Barker for an easy score and a 38-17 lead.

THE TAKEAWAY

Minnesota: Needs six wins to nail down a bowl bid, and Saturday’s defeat makes it all the more difficult. With three games left, against Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, they need wins in two of them. Not impossible, but not easy.

Illinois: Calling the defense after the abrupt resignation last week of coordinator Hardy Nickerson, Smith acquitted himself well, with his defense giving up 438 yards, substantially less than in past weeks.

“We needed to come back and show we can play defense,” Smith said. “I think we’re getting closer.”

UP NEXT
Minnesota: Hosts Purdue on Saturday.
Illinois: Travels to Nebraska next week.

VOLLEYBALL
The No. 3 University of Minnesota volleyball took down Michigan State in five sets (23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 21-25,15-7). With the win, the Gophers improve to 20-2 overall and 14-0 in the Big Ten. Michigan State drops to 15-12 and 3-11 in the conference.

Regan Pittman led the team with 15 kills and hit a team-high .520. She also added eight blocks, which tied her career high. Three other Gophers added 14 kills a piece, Stephanie Samedy, Alexis Hart and Adanna Rollins. Hart reached 1,000 career kills in the five-set win. Rollins (13 digs) and Samedy (20 digs) each added double-doubles. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 55 assists and chipped in four kills. CC McGraw led the defense with 22 digs.

As a team, the Gophers hit .273 and had 68 kills, 80 digs and 13 blocks. The Spartans hit .189 with 55 kills, 59 digs and 14 blocks.

MEN’S HOCKEY
MANKATO, Minn. – An unlucky bounce ultimately cost the No. 8/10 Gopher Hockey program a chance at a series split with No. 4 Minnesota State on Saturday night as Minnesota fell 2-1 at the Verizon Center.

Minnesota (1-3-1 overall, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) and Minnesota State (7-1-0, 2-0-0 WCHA) traded power-play goals in the second period only for the fourth-ranked Mavericks to notch the game winner in unusual fashion while shorthanded. Eric Schierhorn stopped Jake Jaremko’s opening shot on the play only for the rebound to careen into the net off a Gophers skater for the eventual game winner at 5:06 of the second period.

Rem Pitlick scored Minnesota’s lone goal on the Gophers’ first advantage of the night at 5:10 of the first period, giving Minnesota a power-play goal for the third-straight game. Tyler Sheehy picked up the lone assist as the Maroon & Gold went 1-for-5 on the advantage.

The lead held until 3:46 of the second period when Parker Tuomie added a power-play strike for the Mavericks. The power-play goal would be the only blemish for the Minnesota penalty killers on the night as the unit went 6-for-7 in the series finale and 12-for-14 in the series.

After outshooting Minnesota State on Friday night, the Gophers were held to 15 shots on Saturday compared to 22 from the Mavericks.

Making his 100th career start and first of the season, Eric Schierhorn made 20 saves for the Maroon & Gold, taking the loss to move to 0-1-0 on the year.

The Gophers open Big Ten play next weekend with a two-game Border Battle series against Wisconsin in Madison.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS — Grace Zumwinkle broke a 1-1 tie in the third period when she scored the game-winning goal on the power play as the No. 2 University of Minnesota women’s hockey team secured a 2-1 win and WCHA series sweep over visiting Bemidji State on Saturday evening at Ridder Arena.

Minnesota (9-2-1, 7-2-1-0 WCHA) also received a goal from Taylor Williamson, and Alex Gulstene made 25 saves in the win for the Maroon & Gold. The Gophers won 6-3 in game one of the series, receiving goals from six different players in the two games. For the series, Zumwinkle and Alex Woken led the way with two goals each.

Bemidji State (0-9-1, 0-5-1-0 WCHA) got its lone goal from Jacqueline Kaasa along with 25 saves from Kerigan Dowhy on Saturday. Minnesota had a 27-26 advantage in shots on goal for the game despite being outshot 8-6 in the middle frame and 11-8 in the third period.

The Maroon & Gold got on the board first, improving to 6-0-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. Catie Skaja won a faceoff in the BSU end to Dowhy’s left, flicking the puck back to Williamson who moved into the slot and let the puck fly through traffic, beating Dowhy and giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the first period.

The second period saw BSU even the score at 1-1 when Kaasa scored her first goal of the season on an unassisted effort after battling for possession at the Beaver blue line. Kaasa gained control of the puck through neutral ice and got through on a breakaway, beating Gulstene and putting the visitors on the board.

The Gophers regained the lead in the third period when Zumwinkle ripped a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle to break the 1-1 tie and put Minnesota on top 2-1 with 14:52 remaining. Taylor Wente gained control of the puck off the faceoff and found Emily Brown, who set up the play as the Gophers converted on their first power play of the game.

The Gophers held Bemidji State scoreless on the power play, going a perfect four-for-four on the penalty kill while going one-for-two on the power play behind Zumwinkle’s goal.

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