Illinois Fighting Illini was on the verge of an upset in the Big House against No. 3 Michigan, forcing the Wolverines to convert a 4th and a 3 with a minute to go, by far their most important game of the season.
The Wolverines’ college football playoff hopes were pinned on the play. They got the first down, but it’s safe to say they performed an illegal draft play.
Illinois was called for defensive pass interference a play later to set up Michigan’s game-winning 35-yard field goal.
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Illinois head coach Bret Bielema criticized the officials after the game.
“I’m extremely pissed off. Very angry. Very upset,” Bielema told reporters, via CBS Sports. “I think our kids did a lot to win the football game and to keep things going against us, very frustrated. You have to defend your people who you believe in. I believe a lot in our dressing room, and I know that ‘they will rise to the challenge once again.”
Bielema also took to Twitter to throw shade at the referees.
NOPE. 3 MICHIGAN SURVIVES AGAINST UNRANKED ILLINOIS, KEEPS COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS HOPES ALIVE
“We’ll be working all week in practice defending this game, especially on 4th down,” he said in a tweet in which the controversial 4th down conversion was shared.
Illinois entered the fourth quarter with a 17-10 lead, but allowed three unanswered baskets in the fourth.
Michigan improved to 11-0, setting up a must-win game against No. 2 Ohio State next week in Columbus. It will be the first time the two teams meet as undefeated teams since 2006, a game dubbed the “Game of the Century”, which ended in a 42-39 victory for the Buckeyes at home.
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The Illini are down 7-4, 4-4 in conference, one game behind Purdue, Iowa and Minnesota, making their chance at a Big 10 championship game that much tougher.