Nathan Scheelhaase was 16-20 for 195 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead Illinois to a 44-10 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers at Memorial Stadium. Scheelhaase also had 118 yards on 21 carries.
The Boilermakers (4-4, 2-2) entered the game with severe injury problems. Their first two quarterbacks are out for the season, and third-string Rob Henry was injured last week in a loss to Ohio State. Henry split time with freshman Sean Robinson, who threw every pass for Purdue.
The Illini (5-3, 3-2) opened the scoring on their second possession of the game. They went 80 yards in 10 plays, using a little trickery, and culminating with a 17 yard touchdown pass to A.J. Jenkins.
On the ensuing kickoff, Derek Dimke bounced the kickoff off the back of a Purdue defender and Nate Bussey recovered the fumble. The Illini scored 11 plays later with a one-yard touchdown run from Mikel Leshoure.
Illinois took a 17-0 lead to halftime and never looked back. In the third quarter, Scheelhaase threw touchdown passes to Lehsoure and freshman Darius Millines, while Leshoure added another one-yard plunge. It was 37-0 after the third quarter.
Purdue added a 35-yard field goal, and a 7-yard touchdown reception from Gary Bush late in the fourth quarter. Illinois finished the scoring with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Scheelhaase to Chris James.
Illinois is one win away from confirming their bowl eligibility for this season. They will travel to Ann Arbor next weekend for a big matchup with the Michigan Wolverines (5-2, 1-2). Michigan plays at Penn State later tonight.