Champaign, Ill. — Western Michigan came to Illinois Saturday as three-point favorites to pick up its second win in three weeks over a Big Ten team.
Maybe that line should have been a little bigger.
The Broncos (3-0) knocked off Illinois 34-10, two weeks after beating Northwestern on the road, 22-21.
Western Michigan looked the part of a Big Ten team for much of the game Saturday, pushing the Illini (1-2) around the field. The Broncos held Illinois to three yards rushing while they piled up 287 yards on 54 carries.
Sophomore running back Jamauri Bogan led Western Michigan with 189 yards on 24 carries, including a pair of long touchdowns.
Bogan now has 425 yards — 6.8 yards per carry — and four touchdowns. He praised an offensive line that dominated the Illini defensive line, considered the strength of the Illinois team.
“Line came to play,” he said. “It’s always the guys around me that allow things to happen when we play good football games.”
Broncos coach P.J. Fleck celebrated the win with fans who made the trip and said his team was never overwhelmed by the idea of facing another Big Ten team.
“They never flinched; they weren’t going to be intimidated,” he said, while trying to play down the significance of beating Illinois on the road. “It’s no bigger or less than any other win.”
Western Michigan opened up a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and finished the afternoon with 437 yards of offense.
While Western Michigan shoved Illinois down the field, the Illini could barely sustain a drive. Unable to run, their only touchdown came on a trick play, a reverse flea flicker that ended with quarterback Wes Lunt hitting tight end Ainslee Johnson deep down the right sideline to cut the Western Michigan lead to 21-7 midway through the second quarter.
Talking about a fourth-and-1 stop by the Broncos in the first half, Illinois coach Lovie Smith summed up the Illini’s afternoon.
“They beat us up front,” he said. “We knew it was going to be about our line. They know we’re running, and of course we are running. Now, who’s a better man?”
The two wins over Big Ten teams in a season is a first for Western Michigan, and just the fourth time a Mid-American Conference team has two wins over Big Ten opposition in one season.