Wrigley Field Football, Northwestern Vs. Illinois: Illini Ground Assault Good For 48-27 Win

The Allstate Wrigleyville Classic is on tap this weekend, as the Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats square off in Big Ten action in Chicago at famed Wrigley Field.

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Illinois 48, Northwestern 27: Mikel LeShoure Rushes For 330 Yards At Wrigley Field

On Saturday afternoon, football was played in Wrigley Field for the first time in 40 years, and Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure made the event all the more memorable. His 330 yards on the ground set a school record and propelled the Illini over Big Ten rival Northwestern, 48-27.

The entire Illinois offense, it seemed, preferred to conduct business on the ground. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase rushed for 97 yards -- more than doubling his passing yards on the day -- and Jason Ford added another 86 rushing yards to bring the team's rushing total to 519 yards.

Northwestern also performed well on the ground, with Mike Trumpy rushing for 127 yards. After climbing out of a 14-0 hole in the first half, Northwestern's attack fizzled. Quarterback Evan Watkins filled in for the sorely-missed Dan Persa, who was injured at the end of last Saturday's game and learned he would be out for the rest of the season.

The confines of Wrigley Field turned out not to have much of an impact on the game itself, although one touchdown was scored at the foreboding east end zone following an interception return. The goals were not switched at halftime; rather, the teams simply traded bench areas at the half.

With this win, Illinois improves to 6-5 and is bowl-eligible. Northwestern, meanwhile, drops to 7-4.

For more on these teams, check out our Northwestern blog, Sippin' On Purple, and our Illinois blog, Hail To The Orange.


Wrigley Field Football, Northwestern Vs. Illinois: Mikel LeShoure Posts Over 200 Rushing Yards In First Half

On Saturday, Northwestern and Illinois are playing football at Wrigley Field. Judging from the halftime score, though, one would be forgiven for assuming that the two teams are playing basketball.

At the half, Illinois leads Northwestern, 27-24 after a wild thirty minutes. The big story is the show put on thus far by Illini running back Mikel LeShoure, who has already taken the ball 18 times for 208 yards. (The NCAA's single-game rushing record, in case you're curious, was set in 1996, when some fellow named LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 406 yards against UTEP.)

In fact, including quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase's 75 rushing yards and Jason Ford's 20, Illinois has a somewhat unbelievable 303 rushing yards at halftime. Luckily for Northwestern, the Illinois passing attack has been worse than ineffective, as they've thrown for two interceptions and only 16 yards in nine passing attempts.

Northwestern has also preferred to keep the ball on the ground. While quarterback Evan Watkins, filling in for the sorely-missed Dan Persa, is 4-for-9 with 72 yards passing, running back Mike Trumpy has 97 rushing yards at the half.

This has been a wild affair from the start, with multiple plays busting out for at least 70 yards, five turnovers, and a fumbled-and-recovered punt return that went almost all the way to the end zone. Here's hoping the second half is just as entertaining.

Follow along with this StoryStream for game updates. And for more on these teams, check out our Northwestern blog, Sippin' On Purple, and our Illinois blog, Hail To The Orange.


Wrigley Football Field Dimensions Are Actually Against NCAA Regulations

Here's the latest on this morning's decision to have Northwestern and Illinois share one endzone for Saturday's Big Ten game at Wrigley Field. First, from ESPN, a timeline on the publicity runup that led to the decision to curb action on the east side of the field:

According to [Illinois spokesman Kent Brown], "The Big Ten was made aware of a rule that says it needs to be 12 feet from the back of the end zone to the barrier.
There is a bit of a natural assumption when we signed off and said we'd love to play there and we were told that the field fits. I don't know that anybody looks up that rule until you see [actual the field layout]."

About that rule ... Stewart Mandel raises the question we really want answered; namely, how did this never occur to anyone over the past two years of planning?

On page 27 of the book NCAA Football Rules and Interpretations (which can be located with a quick Google search), in a section about field "dimensions," the NCAA clearly states: "Limit lines shall be marked ... 12 feet outside the sidelines and the end lines, except in stadiums where total field surface does not permit. In these stadiums, the limit lines shall not be less than six feet from the sidelines and end lines."
Six feet. Not one foot.

Which begs the obvious question: Why did it take until the day before the game to address this?

For extra giggles, check out the statement the Cubs released that gracefully tosses the Big Ten beneath a passing motorcade:

The field dimension layout was delivered to the Big Ten approximately eight months ago and was approved by the conference. Last month, the field was built exactly to the dimensions previously approved by the Big Ten.

And you think the baseball types are mad? Imagine how disgruntled ticketholders in that east endzone are feeling about now.

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