Brandon Peters set career highs, throwing for 225 yards and four touchdowns as the Illini overcame an early 13-point deficit to beat UConn 31-23.
It was the first nonconference road win for Illinois (2-0) in a dozen years.
Jakari Norwood had 62 yards to lead a rushing attack that accounted for 130 yards.
Jack Zergiotis, making his first start in place of an injured Michael Beaudry, completed 21 of 31 passes for 275 yards for the Huskies (1-1).
UConn, a three touchdown underdog, jumped out to an early lead when defensive back Tyler Coyle stepped in front of a Peters pass in the first quarter and returned it down the left sideline 52 yards. Clayton Harris added two of his three field goals in the first half.
But Ra’Von Bonner got the Illini rolling, taking a screen pass and weaving 28 yards down the right side for a score. That was the first of three second quarter touchdown passes for Peters, the Michigan transfer. The Illini put up 24 unanswered points, closing the half with a 53-yard field goal from James McCourt that was set up by a 29-yard interception return from Michael Marchese.
Illinois fumbled its first handoff after a 68-yard second half kickoff return from Dre Brown and UConn drove 59 yards, getting back in the game when Kevin Mensah dove into the end zone from 2 yards out.
But Southern Cal transfer Josh Imatorbhebhe capped an 87-yard drive with his second touchdown catch of the game to put Illinois on top 31-20 and an interception by Dele Harding stopped a late UConn drive to preserve the win.
Defensive end Oluwole Betiku, another Southern Cal transfer, was in the UConn backfield much of the game, recording 3½ sacks. He had six tackles, three for losses and 1½ sacks in the Illini’s opening win over Akron.
The Illini return home to take on Eastern Michigan next Saturday.