Northwestern 37, Illinois 34: That's All Folks

Thanks for everything, Nate. - Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

And just like that, the 2013 season comes to a close.

Before the season started, a lot of us saw something like a four win season being the best possible outcome for the 2013 Illini football team. Here we are on the verge of December and we got just that. And somehow it feels disappointing. I wanted Nathan Scheelhaase to have that storybook ending. He was supposed to pass Juice Williams and become the school record holder in total yards while engineering an upset against the Northwestern Wildcats.

But this is real life. We don't get clean and convenient happy endings. Things kind of suck sometimes and that's what today's game was. The seniors don't get to go out with a win. They played a solid chunk of their career on some bad squads. I was hoping they'd get a happier swan song. Oh well. This season was definitely an improvement on last year's and you can see good things beginning to develop. With a few more talented receivers, a pass rush of any sort, and a more experienced secondary this could very well be a lower tier bowl team next fall. But we have to wait until September.

Il buono:

  • The punt team really turned it on towards the end of the season and today's game was no exception. Justin DuVernois pinned Northwestern deep in their own territory all day and the gunners were on the receiver almost instantly for some highlight reel hits. It's fun having special teams that don't make you want to stab your eyes out.
  • Can we please get an extra year of eligibility for Steve Hull? There has to be some sort of Ron Zook Hardship loophole. The senior continued his torrid second half, hauling in 13 catches for 155 yards and a beautiful touchdown. Bill Cubit has a talent for turning less heralded players into NFL caliber weapons and he did so with Hull.
  • Josh Ferguson will be the main returning weapon for next season and he ended this one on a high note, rushing for 104 yards with two TDs and 27 receiving yards as well. Expect huge things from him next season with teams having to respect Wes Lunt's arm and our new army of giant receivers.
  • Nathan Scheelhaase is now the school record holder for total yards. Good on him.

Il cattivo:

  • Nothing fun about giving up almost 600 yards to the Wildcats. Best of luck wherever you land, Tim Banks.

Il bruto:

  • Two Northwestern "catches" were reviewed and deemed catches despite, you know, not actually being catches. The interception was juggled on the way out of bounds and the pretty touchdown was straight up admitted to not be a catch because why not?
  • Not saying the Wildcats were faking injuries, but boy did they seem to have a lot of injuries.
  • Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Mark Primiano on Twitter at @SBN_UGod.

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