Final Score: Minnesota 14, No. 24 Illinois 26

Brief Recap: Illinois’ magical resurgence in Year 2 of Bret Bielema is rolling onward! After a tight, hard-fought win over Iowa last week, the Illini rolled into Week 7 and a visit from Minnesota.

Despite the Gophers coming off of a bye week, Illinois played like the more efficient and detailed team on Saturday. And in the matchup of Mohamed Ibrahim vs. Chase Brown, it was Brown who logged over 30 carries and helped his team control time of possession.

Right out of the gate, it was Illinois racing to a 10-0 lead with an early touchdown to Brown, though this one came through the air. Tommy DeVito — active for the game after an ankle injury vs. Iowa — was also a recurring theme for the Illini offense with some brilliant deep throws.

While Minnesota did close things to 10-7 and take a quick 14-13 lead in the third quarter, the Gophers were not able to sustain that offensive work against the Illini defense. Minnesota finished the day with less than 200 yards of offense and was dominated in terms of the time of possession.

The injury and departure of Tanner Morgan is something to monitor for the Gophers, but that doesn’t change the overall outlook for the B1G West. While the winner of Nebraska vs. Purdue will remain tied for the lead in the division, Illinois is playing like the favorite to land in Indianapolis.

Key Player: At the risk of slighting the intense work of Chase Brown, it is hard to pick just one player from the win over Minnesota. Brown is undoubtedly still the heart and soul of the offense, but the unit is also guided by Tommy DeVito’s ability to make plays.

On Saturday, DeVito was 24-for-31 throwing the ball with 2 total touchdowns. He has shown he can make the tough throws and the big-time plays downfield, allowing the Illini offense to open things up and get the ball to their playmakers.

For Brown, he carried the ball 39 times for 165 yards and added 53 yards and a touchdown receiving. Mark down yet another 100-yard outing for Brown.

Coming out of Week 7, it sure looks like this duo can lead Illinois through the West and into Indy.

Key Moment: Late in the third quarter, Illinois got the ball back while leading 20-14. The Illini proceeded to chew up nearly 7 minutes of game clock and used 15 plays to cover 75 yards.

While the Illini failed to punch in the ball for a touchdown, a chipshot field goal made it 23-14 — a two-possession game — and more than enough cushion for its defense.

Key Stat: Time of possession. Illinois had the ball for nearly 40 minutes of game time, a tactic Minnesota traditionally uses to wear down the opposition. While Illinois would like to cash in more of those possessions for touchdowns, the offense did more than enough to put points on the board and maintain control of the game.

What it means for Minnesota moving forward: The Gophers should not have any issues getting into the postseason and a bowl game. However, the goal of a B1G West title has all but evaporated for Minnesota.

The Gophers have two conference losses and now are on the wrong side of head-to-head tie-breakers against Purdue and Illinois. Hopefully, Tanner Morgan is okay and gets back on the field quickly, but Minnesota is playing for bowl positioning at this point of the season.

What it means for Illinois moving forward: Can Illinois really win the West in Year? That’s really the only question surrounding Champaign right now, and it appears to be a resounding “yes” with each week that passes.

Bielema’s offensive line is doing the heavy lifting, and the defense is one of the best in the country. Right now, it’s a winning combination.