Chase Brown’s 180 yards, defense carry No. 24 Illinois past Minnesota

Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Chase Brown just keeps impressing Illinois coach Bret Bielema.

“If there’s a better player in college football who has had an effect on his program,” Bielema said, “I’d like to know who it is.”

Brown rushed for 180 yards on a career-high 41 carries and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass to complement the No. 24 Illini’s strong defensive performance in a 26-14 victory over Minnesota.

The Illini (6-1, 3-1) became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2019 with their fifth straight win. They’ll go into their off week tied for first in the Big Ten West.

Brown has a lot to do with it. But he might have to take it easy for a bit after setting a Bowl Subdivision season high for single-game rushing attempts.

“(Ice) tub and tub again,” Brown said. “Just live in the training room for the next two weeks.”

Brown became the first player to go over 1,000 yards for the season. He has a nation-leading 1,059 after running for 1,005 last year. His average number of carries per game has increased from 17 last year to 27.

“It hurts,” he said, “but I just have got to take my recovery to a whole new level and just come back stronger. Use this bye week to get my body back and come back explosive against Nebraska.”

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 an FBS opponent since at least 2000.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, 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 entered for the Gophers (4-2, 1-2) and was intercepted twice.

Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito, back from an ankle injury that forced 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.

DeVito said the Illini haven’t reached their potential.

“We’re going bowling in October, and that’s a really good feeling,” DeVito said. “But I don’t think that’s the team’s goal. I think we want to go way past that. But it’s just another notch in our belt.”

Brown recorded his eighth straight 100-yard game and has 13 for his career, second most at Illinois behind Robert Holcombe’s 16 from 1994-97.

Bielema said Brown “takes incredibly good care of his body,” but promised he would have a light week after carrying the load against the Gophers.

“He won’t be doing much this week,” Bielema told reporters. “You guys could hang out with him for all I care.”

Brown got wide open on a wheel route for his 40-yard touchdown to finish Illinois’ nine-play, 75-yard drive to start the game. Fabrizio Pinton tacked on a 31-yard field goal to give the Illini a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Pinton connected from 23 yards in the third and from 30 yards in the fourth to extend Illinois’ lead.

Ibrahim was about all Minnesota had going offensively. The Gophers were just 2 of 7 on third downs and finished with their fewest yards since gaining 133 against Wisconsin in 2017.

No opponent had scored a touchdown at Memorial Stadium this season before Morgan’s 9-yard run in the middle of the second quarter. The play capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive the Gophers were unable to replicate the rest of the game.

Quentin Redding’s 92-yard return of the second-half kickoff set up Ibrahim’s 4-yard touchdown, which gave the Gophers a brief 14-13 lead.

HUMBLE HELPS

Illinois offensive lineman Alex Palczewski said he expects he and his teammates to stay humble as winning raises their profile. That especially goes for Brown, who could start getting some Heisman Trophy buzz.

“That’s one thing I love about him,” Palczewski said. “All the guys, no one is really a diva. No one’s like, `Me, me, me.’ ”

BOUNCING BACK

The Gophers have dropped in the West standings, but that doesn’t mean they won’t bounce back in a wide-open division race.

“We have a chance to respond, learn from this game and move on for the next,” sixth-year center John Michael Schmitz said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Minnesota: Just as Ibrahim returns from an injury, Morgan exits. The extent of the sixth-year quarterback’s injury could factor heavily into how the Gophers finish.

Illinois: The Illini have won six straight home games, four in a row against Big Ten West opponents and are out to their best start since 2011. With DeVito healthy, the Illini could be favored in each remaining game except for a Nov. 19 trip to No. 5 Michigan.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 19 Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma might allow the Illini to move up.

UP NEXT

Minnesota: A challenging trip to No. 10 Penn State.

Illinois: An open date precedes an Oct. 29 visit to Nebraska.

Texas State hires Incarnate Word coach Kinne to lead Bobcats

Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas State hired Incarnate Word coach G.J. Kinne on Friday to lead a Sun Belt program that has had only one winning season since moving up to the Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

The 34-year-old former Tulsa quarterback has made a fast rise in coaching since ending his professional career in 2017.

After three years as an offensive analyst at SMU, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles, Kinne became offensive coordinator at Hawaii in 2020. He held the same role for UCF in 2021 before landing the head coaching job at FCS Incarnate Word this season.

Incarnate Word is 10-1 and averaging 53 points and 8.3 yards per play, both FCS highs, heading into its playoff game Saturday against Furman. Kinne will remain with Incarnate Word through their playoff run.

“It’s with great honor that I’m accepting the call to be next head football coach of the Texas State Bobcats,” Kinne said. “We are going to play fast, have relentless energy, and when the going gets tough, have the mental confidence to win tight games in the second half and represent the state of Texas. Eat ‘Em Up!”

Texas State fired Jake Spavital last week after the Bobcats won just 13 games in his four seasons.

Kinne signed a five-year contract, the school said. Terms were not immediately released.

“My goal was to hire someone with demonstrated leadership experience, success as a head coach, established relationships with Texas football coaches, and success with recruiting and developing players,” said Texas State President Kelly Damphousse. “I sought a leader with a plan to capitalize on our location in the heart of the best high school football in the country.”

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”