Indiana Hoosiers try to keep Illini guessing until Friday night affair

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Indiana Hoosiers try to keep Illini guessing until Friday night affair originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Illinois broke in a new quarterback and crashed into the win column, and now Tommy DeVito and the Fighting Illini take the show on the road for the team's first matchup with Indiana since 2017.

The Hoosiers are taking a page from Illinois coach Bret Bielema's book by withholding the identity of the starting quarterback for the Friday night affair in Bloomington, Ind.

DeVito, a transfer from Syracuse named the starter for Illinois (1-0) days before the opener, leaned on Illini running back Chase Brown (three TDs) to bury Wyoming 38-6. The Illini's bruising offensive line will be tested by the Hoosiers.

"Just impressed with what Coach Bielema's done there in a short time he's been there," Indiana coach Tom Allen said Monday. "Their running back, Chase Brown, is very special. He had a great season last year and showed it again on Saturday."

Indiana, 2-10 last season, follows Week 1 with home dates against Idaho and Western Kentucky before a Top 25 meeting at Cincinnati on Sept. 24. The stretch in September might allow the Hoosiers time to determine which quarterback gives the team the best chance to compete.

Fifth-year senior Jack Tuttle started two games in 2021 but wasn't handed the starting job. He said he has carried himself "with a chip on my shoulder" since the end of last season, but he's locked in a duel with Missouri transfer Connor Bazelak. The former Tigers quarterback made 20 starts at Mizzou and passed for 5,058 yards with 23 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and a 66.3 completion percentage.

"I'm not happy," Tuttle said of the competition. "I'm motivated."

DeVito played more of a game-manager role in the opener with Illinois running downhill at will against Wyoming. Allen's defense has seven returning starters, and they largely will be keyed on Brown -- 19 carries, 151 yards last week -- and the ground game.

DeVito completed 27 of 37 passes for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Wyoming.

"I liked Tommy's demeanor. Thought he did some things that don't go in the newspaper," Bielema said. "Just getting rid of the ball on early downs so we don't get in negative situations. He distributed the ball to a lot of players, 12 players caught passes."

Indiana has won three consecutive games in the series, which is led by Illinois 45-24-2.