All-America Anthony Carter caught five passes for 125 yards, 40 coming on a touchdown reception, as Michigan won, 16-10, yesterday at Illinois and remained unbeaten in the Big Ten.
Michigan (7-2, 7-0) needs to win only one of its last two games to clinch the title and a Rose Bowl berth.
With Tony Eason completing 28 of 47 passes for 272 yards, with two intercepted, the Illini kept threatening. In the closing minutes, they moved from their eight to Michigan's two, but a fourth-down run was stopped to the dismay of a crowd of 75,256, largest in Memorial Stadium history.
"I accept the responsibility for the call," said Illini Coach Mike White. "I'm just sick for the kids. They deserved a better fate."
Carter's big plays and Lawrence Ricks' 177 yards running helped set up three field goals by Al Haji-Sheikh after Illinois (6-4, 5-3) took a 3-0 lead on Mike Bass' 26-yard field goal.
The No. 15 Wolverines responded by going 76 yards, the last 40 on Steve Smith's pass to Carter for a 7-3 lead. They made it 10-3 on Haji-Sheikh's 30-yard field goal, only to have the Illini drive 62 yards to score, Eason passing the last seven to Mike Martin with 1:03 left in the half.
Smith's 24-yard pass to Carter early in the third quarter set up Haji-Sheikh's 45-yard, tie-breaking field goal, and late in that period Smith twice passed to Carter to set up a 47-yeard field goal.