Washington scored first and led 7–0, until late in the first half. Washington's score came following an Illinois fumble at its own 27-yard line. Backup quarterback, Bill Siler, kept it for three yards, then passed it to Joe Mancuso for 18 yards to the Illini 6. Siler then faked a pass and pitched to halfback Dave Kopay, who scored behind the block of halfback Ron Medved, with 8:26 left in the first half.
The Illini's first score came on Jim Plankerton's field goal in the waning seconds of the second quarter. In the third quarter, Jim Warren scored the "go-ahead" touchdown on a two-yard run in the third quarter. Grabowski rushed for 125 yards, and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Grabowski was named the game's Most Valuable Player. Dick Butkus played both ways in this contest, both at center and linebacker. He recovered a fumble, and had an interception (in addition to leading a defense that held Washington to only 59 yards rushing and 71 yards passing for the game).