The Northwestern Wildcats smoked the Illinois Fighting Illini 50-14 on Saturday at Ryan Field to win the Land of Lincoln Trophy. The victory moves the Wildcats to 9-3 on the season, and all but assures them a spot in a New Year's Day bowl game.
Illinois actually got on the board first, taking advantage of sloppy Northwestern tackling to go up 7-0 on Donovonn Young's 15-yard touchdown run. But it was pretty much all Wildcats after that. Northwestern scored the next 17 points, and after the Illini closed the gap to 17-14, the Wildcats scored the last 33 points of the game.
Northwestern used a strong rushing attack and took advantage of numerous Illinois miscues in the victory. The Wildcats racked up 338 rushing yards and forced four Illini turnovers, including three interceptions of quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Illinois also racked up eight penalties for 88 yards.
With the loss, Illinois finished their season winless in the Big Ten and 2-10 overall under first-year coach Tim Beckman.
Box Score Hero: Venric Mark was impressive on the ground, but quarterback Kain Colter was the star of the game. Colter completed 9-of-11 passes for 102 yards and three scores, while also rushing for another 88 yards and a touchdown.
Rankings Ramifications: Northwestern was just outside the AP Top 25, and could potentially move into those rankings and perhaps the BCS standings with the victory.
But Did They Cover? Northwestern was a 19-point favorite, so they easily covered.
Next Week's Schedule: Northwestern is likely headed toward a New Year's Day bowl game. SB Nation's latest bowl projections had the Wildcats in the Gator Bowl. Illinois' season is mercifully over.