The Illini were playing their first game under new Head Coach Lou Tepper, who was named John Mackovic's replacement a little more than two weeks earlier when Mackovic took the head coaching job at Texas. The Illinois defense certainly came to play, holding the high-octane UCLA attack to just 268 yards of total offense. The Fighting Illini offense didn't fare much better, though, totaling 308 yards of its own in a classic defensive struggle. Illinois missed an early scoring opportunity when Jason Verduzco's pass was intercepted at the Bruin goal line. The Illinois defense forced a UCLA fumble six plays later, but then promptly turned the ball back to the Bruins at the UI 24-yard line after a blocked punt. The Illinois defense stiffened and held UCLA to a field goal. Both teams traded punches until Illinois freshman Chris Richardson kicked a 27-yard field goal. The score remained tied until the opening drive of the fourth quarter when Illinois' Filmel Johnson fumbled a UCLA punt at the UI 11-yard line that lead to a 19-yard Louis Perez field goal. Illinois linebacker Mike Poloskey earned the Jimmy Rogers Jr. Trophy as the game's Most Valuable Lineman.