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Illinois victory shows stats don’t tell full story

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Updated: December 25, 2013 6:46AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Illinois lost the turnover battle 4-1. Coach Tim Beckman’s defense gave up yet another long touchdown run, a 62-yarder to Purdue’s Akeem Hunt on the opening series of the game. The Illini failed to get into the end zone themselves after the first play of the second quarter.

And — what else? — Illinois won.

It makes no sense beyond a pair of explanations. One, the Boilermakers are incredibly bad at football. Two, the Illini are the much better team.

Which is true? Or are both true?

‘‘It’s just nice to see everyone feeling better after a win,’’ quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase said.

Fair enough. (For the record, they’re both true.)

Moving the pile

For only the second time this season, Illinois got a 100-yard rushing performance from one of its running backs. Both have come from sophomore Josh Ferguson, whose 115 yards were a career high.

It was a hard-working 115, too. Ferguson carried the ball a career-high 20 times and didn’t have a run of longer than 15 yards. He now has 669 yards for the season.

Corner pick it

V’Angelo Bentley picked off Danny Etling on Purdue’s final offensive play, giving the Illini their first interception by a cornerback all season.

Yes, that’s as bad as it sounds. Illinois has a scant three interceptions, one of the lowest totals in the country. Linebacker Jonathan Brown and safety Taylor Barton have the other two.

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