Season in review: Illinois football

Tim Beckman’s debut was one to forget, as the Fighting Illini struggled on both sides of the ball. Spotty play along the offensive line hindered an offense that was last in the Big Ten in scoring (16.7 ppg); No. 11 in rushing (127.8 ypg); No. 10 in passing (168.8 ypg).

The defense wasn’t much better, ranking No. 11 in scoring defense (32.1 ppg); No. 10 overall (387.6 ypg); No. 10 vs. the run (193.3 ypg). Compounding matters: Illinois’ 30 turnovers were second most in the league.

Illinois 2012
Date Opponent Result / Time
9/1 vs. Western Michigan 24 – 7
9/8 at Arizona State 14 – 45
9/15 vs. Charleston Southern 44 – 0
9/22 vs. Louisiana Tech 24 – 52
9/29 vs. Penn State 7 – 35
10/6 at Wisconsin 14 – 31
10/13 at 25 Michigan 0 – 45
10/27 vs. Indiana 17 – 31
11/3 at 6 Ohio State 22 – 52
11/10 vs. Minnesota 3 – 17
11/17 vs. Purdue 17 – 20
11/24 at Northwestern 14 – 50

Record: 2-10 overall; 0-8 Big Ten

High point: The season opening 24-7 win over Western Michigan was it. In fact, this was Illinois’ only victory over any FBS foes. The other win was against FCS Charleston Southern.

Low point: There are too many to count, but a 52-24 home loss to Louisiana Tech on Sept. 22 was a sign of things to come. Some other memorable beat-downs: 45-14 at Arizona State; 35-7 to Penn State; 45-0 at Michigan; 52-22 at Ohio State; 50-14 at Northwestern. Illinois ended the season on a nine-game losing skid. And its Big Ten losing streak stands at 14.

Offensive MVP: T Hugh Thornton. The big senior was second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and honorable mention by the media. No other Illini offensive player earned as many postseason accolades. Indeed, Thornton was the lone consistent bright spot week after week on an otherwise moribund offense. C Graham Pocic also had a standout season.

[RELATED: Read Tom Dienhart's ongoing series of 2012 football season reviews. ]

Defensive MVP: E Michael Buchanan. The rangy Buchanan was one of the few consistent players on a defense that had its struggles, as the Fighting Illini ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten in total defense (387.6 ypg). But Buchanan was a pass-rushing force who had to be accounted for.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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