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Illinois’ 45-0 loss is historic — for all the wrong reasons

Updated: November 15, 2012 6:49AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The numbers are ugly.

Illinois’ 45-0 slip-and-slide at Michigan on Saturday was its first shutout loss since a 30-0 pasting at Ohio State on Sept. 26, 2009. It was Illinois’ biggest margin of defeat since a 63-10 loss to Penn State on Oct. 22, 2005, in Ron Zook’s first season as coach.

And senior defensive end Michael Buchanan is concerned that the Illini also might be losing their determination to fight after being routed for the fifth time.

‘‘That’s something that needs to be addressed,’’ Buchanan said. ‘‘We’re still playing for a lot. If we win out, we can still go to a decent bowl game. We need to stress to the young guys that we’re playing for something.’’

That’s more of a reminder that college football opportunities are more precious than anything else.

‘‘I challenged them in the locker room,’’ coach Tim Beckman said. ‘‘I said, ‘There’s five opportunities left. We have to step forward and try to make our team better.’ ’’

How many fingers?

Nathan Scheelhaase did not return after being knocked woozy when he banged his helmet on the field while being tackled after a 23-yard run in the second quarter.

But he wanted to.

‘‘Nate said he was all right,’’ Beckman said. ‘‘He tried to go right back into the game. But there were some things Nate did where you could tell Nate wasn’t all right.’’

Scheelhaase is expected to be available for Illinois’ next game vs. Indiana on Oct. 27.

Good bye

Asked if this bye week is coming at a good time, Beckman wasn’t sure. ‘‘I guess,’’ the humbled coach said. ‘‘I don’t know when a good time is.’’

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