Illinois head coach blasts referee after loss to No. 3 Michigan

The Illinois Fighting Illini were on the verge of a massive upset in the Big House against No. 3 Michigan, forcing the Wolverines to convert a fourth-and-3 with under a minute to go, their most important play of the season so far.

The Wolverines’ College Football Playoff hopes were riding on the play. He got the first down, but it can certainly be argued that he ran an illegal pick play.

Illinois was later called for a defensive pass interference to set up Michigan’s game-winning 35-yard field goal.

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Illinois Fighting Illini Head Coach Brett Bielema protests a call during a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Champaign, Ill.

Illinois Fighting Illini Head Coach Brett Bielema protests a call during a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Champaign, Ill.
(Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

Illinois head coach Brett Bielema criticized the officials after the game.

“I’m very upset. Very angry. Very upset,” Bielema told reporters via CBS Sports. “I think our kids have done a lot to win football games and are very disappointed to constantly have things go against us. You have to stand up for the people you believe in. There’s a lot of faith in the room.” And I know they will rise to the challenge once again.”

Bielema also took to Twitter to throw shade at the referee.

No. 3 Michigan Survives Unranked Illinois, Keeps College Football Playoff Hopes Alive

“We will be working in practice all week to defend this play, especially on fourth down,” he said in a tweet that shared the controversial fourth down conversion.

Illinois entered the fourth quarter with a 17–10 lead but allowed three unanswered field goals in the fourth.

Michigan improved to 11–0, setting up a must-win game against No. 2 Ohio State the following week in Columbus. This would be the first time since 2006 that the two teams would face off as undefeated squads, a game referred to as the “Game of the Century”, which ended in a 42–39 victory for the Buckeyes at home.

Illinois Fighting Illini Head Coach Brett Bielema protests a call during a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Champaign, Ill.

Illinois Fighting Illini Head Coach Brett Bielema protests a call during a game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Champaign, Ill.
(Michael Hickey / Getty Images)

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The Illini fell to 7–4 and 4–4 in conference play, one game behind Purdue, Iowa and Minnesota, making their chance at the Big 10 championship game more difficult.

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