As you might know, No. 5 Cincinnati beat Illinois 49-36 today.
Senior QB Tony Pike threw for 399 yards and a school-record 6 touchdowns, which wasn't exactly a surprise considering the Bearcats entered the game as THE NATIONAL LEADER in pass efficiency (170.01 rating). They also ranked No. 7 in passing yards per game (314.3 ypg).
Throw in the fact that Illinois entered the game the nation's 85th-best pass efficiency defense and two true freshmen starting in the secondary -- and it made all the sense in the world that Cincinnati CHOSE TO RUN THE BALL JUST FOUR TIMES in the first three quarters and let Pike throw to the wide-open receivers all over the field.
Alas, all of these numbers and common sense apparently eluded Illinois' game-planners. Frankly, because I like co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch, I hope this is a misquote from the Associated Press. From the game story:
"You go into a game trying to make them pass," Illinois defensive coordinator Dan Disch said. "That may be a mistake against them. We gave up too many big plays."
The 399 passing yards marks the most against a Ron Zook team at Illinois. It's the third-highest total against the Illini in this decade, trailing LSU's 444 yards in the 2002 Sugar Bowl and the 408 yards for San Jose State in a shocking home loss on Sept. 21, 2002.
One other thing slightly related to Illinois' bad defensive performance: The officials were even worse. The Big East crew made at least two brutal personal-foul calls on the Illini, including a phantom call on LB Nate Bussey that turned a fourth down (and likely FG attempt) into an eventual TD for Cincinnati.
Then there was Pike's last touchdown pass, when at least one-third of the receiver's foot landed on the white turf in the back of the end zone. Not only did the official on the field give the Bearcats the touchdown, but the replay official didn't stop the game to review it. Terrible.
There were a few other questionable calls/non-calls that I'm not remembering at this moment, but I'm sure Zook will see them when he reviews the video and he'll file a report.
I'm not sure what warrants a one-game suspension for a crew in the Big East, but this ought to be somewhere near the line.