CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A year ago, Illinois’ last home game was a heartbreaking loss. This year, Illinois ended its season with another loss, only this one was a different type of heartbreak.
In rainy, 40-degree temps, both teams felt the impact of the conditions, but Northwestern (3-9, 1-8 Big Ten) took home the Land of the Lincoln trophy for the fifth consecutive time and beat Illinois 29-10 for its first conference win this season.
With Illinois already bowl eligible after its win against Michigan State, there were still a few things at stake: ending the season with its best record since 2014, beating the enemy up North (as Lovie would say) and playing into a better bowl game.
It’s important to note that a significant amount of Illini were missing from the game: Brandon Peters, Jake Hansen, Jordan Holmes, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Dawson DeGroot. All players who have played significant roles in every Illini win this season.
The first half flew by in a matter of minutes — literally. The first quarter lasted 32 minutes, with the Illinois offense getting nothing going. Then in the second quarter, Nate Hobbs picked off Andrew Marty to wake up the offense. This lead to a 29-yard reception by Caleb Reams that perfectly set up Dre Brown to get into the end zone for the Illini’s first touchdown of the game.
The second half started off just as tough, Illinois couldn’t figure out how to stop the run or piece together a nice drive. The numbers don’t lie, the Wildcats embarrassed the Illini on the ground with 378 rushing yards compared to Illinois’ 14. That was the story of the second as multiple Wildcats racked up over 80 yards on the ground, including Marty, the backup quarterback.
Losing to Northwestern seems to be a tradition that the Illini can’t let go of. But at least Illinois and their fans have a bowl game to look forward to.
“We want to be a bowl team that finishes it off the right way. A chance to have a winning record is big for us” said Smith.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- Illinois defensive end Bobby Roundtree made his first visit back to Champaign to give a pregame speech before Senior day.
- “I’ll take that”: Nate Hobbs’ second quarter interception gave Illinois the only momentum it would see during the first half.
- A half to forget: One rushing yard, one completion, and one first down. That’s how the box score read at halftime.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Trash— The Champaign Room (@Champaign_Room) November 30, 2019
The first half took 1:12.— Illini Stats & Notes (@IlliniStats) November 30, 2019
First quarter - 32 minutes
Second quarter - 40 minutes.
We’re not sure where the Illini are going bowling, but we will keep the site updated once it’s announced.