Mikel Leshoure Breaks Illinois Rushing Record at Wrigley Field



With many apologies to Jeff Joniak of the Chicago Bears Radio Network, on Saturday, November 20th, 2010, at Wrigley Field, Mikel Leshoure truly was ridiculous.

With the entire Illinois offense on his shoulders, Leshoure rushed for an Illinois-school-single-game-record 330 yards on 33 carries, and in the process also set a single-game rushing record at Wrigley Field. It was the fifth-most yards in Big Ten history, fourth-most yards in a Big Ten conference game and the most yards in an FBS game since Navy’s Shun White ran for 348 yards on August 30th of 2008.

By Paul Schmidt

It was a historic day at Wrigley Field for the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic, regardless of anything else that was going to happen. It was the first football game in Wrigley since 1970, and the first college football game since 1938. The national media was everywhere. They was danger at every turn — or at least in the east end zone.

There was drama, excitement, and subplots galore (like the Illini getting bowl eligible). Who could ask for anything more?

Enter Mikel Leshoure. Though he wasn’t thinking about anything like a record setting day heading into the game.

“That definitely wasn’t on my mind going in to the game,” Leshoure said. “All I was thinking about was getting that win and helping our team get to a bowl game. Happy the stats were the way they were, but it wasn’t on my mind going into the game.”

Leshoure’s running style was on display for the nation to see, but it was evident to any Illini fan all season prior to today. He’s a strong runner, with a surprising burst of speed, but it is Leshoure’s field vision that makes him the great runner we saw today.

Not only does Leshoure’s vision allow him to see and hit the initial holes well, but he also anticipates up-field contact very well.

“I think a lot of that just comes with experience, and just being out there on the field and getting plays,” Leshoure said. “Fortunately it started a little bit last year and I’ve gotten a lot of playing time this year, so I just think it comes with experience and just reacting.”

It’s that playing time — and film-work, too — that gave Leshoure the knowledge he needed: Cutbacks would be VERY important against this Northwestern defense.

“At the start of the game, those holes were pretty open, and the cutback lanes, the linebackers were flowing for us, and that opened up those lanes,” Leshoure said. “Throughout the game, later on in the game, they had more men in the box to stop the run, so the holes were a little bit tighter. But again, you’ve got to react and make plays.

“Yeah I think cutbacks were important because after watching film, we’d seen how their linebackers, they were fast, and with the fast moving linebackers you just want to press the line of scrimmage and make a cutback as soon as you can,” Leshoure added.

The atmosphere at the game wasn’t daunting to Leshoure, or any of the Illini for that matter, as the offense started blasting people early and never stopped.

Even more amazingly, not only was this Leshoure’s first time at Wrigley Field, it was his first time in a Major League Baseball stadium, period.

“Yeah, I’m not really a baseball fan,” Leshoure said with a laugh. “I’m thinking of becoming one though!”


  1. What an amazing day! and it ended the way it began. ILL came out running right from the start. and kept with the established run throughout.

    1 complaint though is that he got caught from behind twice. he broke away but still got caught from behind. I know its nitpicking, since they punhced it in a coupel plays later both times. but if he’s going to jump to the nfl. he wont really…it;s like walter young. WY wasn’t able to have that closing speed

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