Indiana gets first Big Ten win in Wilson era
CHAMPAIGN — The weight of a losing season seems obvious to Illinois coach Tim Beckman.

"I've lost 22 pounds," he said. "You think I like losing? I haven't been around it. I hate it."

Saturday's 31-17 Homecoming loss to Indiana only added to the discontent Beckman and Illini fans are feeling.

Illinois (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten) has lost 10 straight conference games, dating back to a win on Oct. 8, 2011, at Indiana.

Conversely, Indiana (3-5, 1-3) won just its second Big Ten game in 25 attempts and recorded its first conference victory since beating Purdue in overtime on Nov. 27, 2010.

It may be a tough thought to absorb for Illini fans, but right now the program is trying to become more like Indiana's, which has seen improvement in coach Kevin Wilson's second season.

"You're looking at some programs that have built some continuity," said Beckman, who is in his first season at Illinois. "That's exactly what we're trying to do. You want it to happen fast. You want to be successful as fast as you possibly can. Right now we're not."

Illinois exhibited some improvement, taking an early lead against the Hoosiers in front of an announced crowd of 47,981. But they invalidated any progress by self-destructing with penalties that were so glaring, the guilty players slapped their own helmets in frustration.

Illinois fumbled twice — once on a muffed punt return by Tommy Davis that led to a 22-yard touchdown drive by Indiana that provided the Hoosiers a 21-14 lead, and another by running back Donovonn Young that led to a Hoosiers field goal for a 24-14 lead.

Illinois outgained Indiana 372-292 and held the Hoosiers to just 1 of 13 on third-down conversions, but the Illini committed eight penalties for 81 yards. Some were game changers.

Defensive end Justin Staples' late hit on third down kept alive an Indiana drive that allowed the Hoosiers to tie the game 14-14. Later in the second quarter, Glenn Foster was baited into jumping offside on fourth-and-1, allowing the Hoosiers to score a play later for a 21-14 lead.

"We played hard today," linebacker Jonathan Brown said. "We played our butts off. We just made too many mistakes."

Illinois had hoped after an open week and facing another struggling Big Ten team that they would finally find a cure to end its losing streak, which was extended to five straight.

"We talked about how we can't beat ourselves," defensive end Michael Buchanan said. "That's one of the things we continued to do today. It's like we're all kind of pressing too much and trying to do a little too much in our jobs."

The Illini scored on their opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to Eddie Viliunas for a 7-0 lead. They took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter with a 5-yard Scheelhaase touchdown run.

But after Indiana's Stephen Houston scored for a 14-14 tie in the second quarter on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who took over early for starter Cameron Coffman, the Hoosiers never trailed.

"We came out and did some things we thought were good," Beckman said. "We faced a good offensive football team. But again it comes down to shooting yourself in the foot."

sryan@tribune.com

Twitter @sryantribune