Wins are tough to come by in Division I college football and Bret Bielema’s men found out the hard way on Saturday night. The Illini (1-1, 1-0 Big Ten) lost a dogfight against UTSA (1-0, 0-0 CUSA) falling just short of a tying touchdown on the final play of the game.

From the very start, the game had the feeling of a tough matchup. The Roadrunner offense played fast and the Illini struggled to match their tempo for much of the game. At the end of the first quarter UTSA led 7-0.

The Illini were without starting quarterback Brandon Peters so the start was given to Artur Sitkowski. Sitkowski went 22-for-42 for 266 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Illini were also without star running back Chase Brown so it was once again running back by committee for Tony Peterson’s offense. Reggie Love III, Mike Epstein, Jakari Norwood and Josh McCray all recorded touches and the Illini ground game racked up 146 total yards.

The Illini trailed 20-14 at the half and 23-17 after the third. In the fourth, UTSA scored two touchdowns. After a record breaking James McCourt field goal the Illini found themselves down seven with a minute and a half left in desperate need of a stop. The defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out and the Illini got the ball back with a minute left on the clock. They drove down the field and had the ball inside the fifteen before a costly penalty pushed them back near midfield.

On the last play of the game, Sitkowski heaved one on the run up to Casey Washington who made the catch but landed out of bounds, ending the game and giving UTSA the win.

Roadrunner quarterback Frank Harris went 20-for-32 for 280 yards and one touchdown. UTSA’s ground game totalled 217 yards and three touchdowns on the night.

On the whole, UTSA outgained the Illini 497 to 412, largely due to the quick pace their offense played with and some Illini offensive struggles.

The Illini look to right the ship next week on the road against Virginia. After a promising start, Illini fans are wondering which team they will see for the rest of the season.