Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer will return to the starting lineup against No. 16 Iowa on Saturday after missing the latest game with a head injury, coach Bret Bielema announced Wednesday.
Speaking with SiriusXM Big Ten radio, Bielema said Altmyer cleared the concussion protocol on Tuesday. The sophomore sustained the injury toward the end of the Minnesota game on Nov. 4.
Ball State transfer John Paddock may have made the decision a little more difficult after leading the game-winning drive against the Golden Gophers in relief of Altmyer before throwing for a Memorial Stadium-record 507 yards to go with four touchdowns against the visiting Indiana Hoosiers in last Saturday in a 48-45 overtime win.
But Bielema said there was never a doubt about the identity of his starter if Altmyer were ready.
“He was our starting quarterback before he left (the Minnesota game), and that’s where I see it now,” Bielema said on the show. “The best part that we have is if there’s any part of that that gets gray, we have a guy who has proven he can play and do some good things. Super excited about both of those guys.”
The Fighting Illini (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) have won three of their past four games and can clinch bowl eligibility with a win Saturday in Iowa City, Illinois’ final road game of the season.
Altmyer, an Ole Miss transfer, is 175 of 270 for 1,883 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first season in Champaign, Ill.
–Field Level Media
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