Despite suffering season-ending injuries, Mike Epstein, Jake Hansen take the field for Illinois' final play vs. Northwestern
Running back Mike Epstein and linebacker Jake Hansen had their seasons ended earlier this year because of injury. Yet the two key pieces to the Illinois puzzle got to step onto the field one more time this weekend.
Late in Saturday’s game, Illinois owned a convincing 47-14 lead on Northwestern, cruising to a victory to take back the Land of Lincoln trophy. Because the score was so lopsided, both Epstein and Hansen were sent onto the field for the team’s final kneel down.
It was an awesome moment for the two players and an incredible gesture by head coach Bret Bielema. Big Ten Network captured that final play:
This is why we love College Football 👏.
Following season ending injuries earlier in the year, seniors Jake Hansen and Mike Epstein joined the Huddle on the final kneel down of the win over Northwestern.@Juggs35 // @Dat26Kid // @IlliniFootball pic.twitter.com/F8ty7imKzo
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 28, 2021
Both Epstein and Hansen meant a lot to the Illinois program. Getting an opportunity to hit the field one more time in a rivalry victory — in front of a home crowd — had to be a special moment.
Illinois concludes the year with a 5-7 record in Bielema’s first season as head coach.