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TCR Staff Predictions: Illinois at Northwestern

Do you think the Illini can take back the HAT?

NCAA Football: Illinois at Rutgers Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Cohn: Northwestern 16, Illinois 6

I certainly think there is something to be said for Northwestern looking ahead to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. I know I certainly would, since they know they really have a shot at knocking the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff, and that’s a LOT to play for. But at the same time, even if Illinois played a perfect game, I think Northwestern is far too competent to stumble two games in a row. The Illini keep it close, but 16-6 just SCREAMS 2020 Northwestern. Let’s hope for a better result next week.

Michael Berns: Northwestern 38, Illinois 17

Uh oh. It seems like forever ago Nern lost to Michigan State. Given the Covid situation, NW didn’t play last weekend, and you can bet they were watching the Illini crumble to the Hawkeyes. Nw is a better offensive team than a season ago. They take it to us, and stomp our necks while we’re down.

Matt Rejc: Northwestern 41, Illinois 13

Northwestern is the better team in this matchup, and I expect them to play like it. I’m sure Rod Smith is going to throw a few curveballs on offense, but it won’t make much of a difference. Like last year, I expect this game to get away from the Illini quickly.

Jeff Horwitz: Illinois 27, Northwestern 21

I say nay! I do not accept Northwestern superiority in this rivalry. They were flat out bad at MSU and only beat Nebraska by a score at home. Yes, I know that they’ve crushed the Illini for the entire Lovie Smith regime. But, if anything this season is certain - if this season has taught us anything - it’s that you can beat bad Big Ten teams on the road. And that’s what Northwestern is, another bad Big Ten team.

Drew Pastorek: Illinois 24, Northwestern 21

The Wildcats have owned this rivalry of late. I have no rational reason to pick Illinois. But, we’re sports fans — we’re irrational by nature. What can I say? If Michigan State can beat up Northwestern...why can’t the Illini? The Wildcats either unimpressively win (except against Maryland) or look like trash. Here’s hoping that Fitz is looking ahead to Indiana — errr — Ohio State next weekend. Whatevs, I’m in full basketball mode now and I’m still basking in the glow of that ass-whipping of Duke. I’m in a good mood, don’t screw this shit up.

Quentin Wetzel: Northwestern 27, Illinois 13

I actually think I have a pretty good idea of how this game will go, and here’s why. FPI ranks Iowa’s offense 45th and Northwestern’s 70th; the two teams’ defenses rank 6th and 4th, respectively. So we essentially saw a preview of this game last week. Northwestern has a slightly better defense than Iowa, and its offense is worse than the Hawkeyes’, but the two teams are pretty similar overall. This game should just be a lower-scoring version of last week’s loss. I do think Illinois has a path to victory though. If Brandon Peters returns to form and the defense forces a few turnovers, the Illini could pull off the upset in Evanston. But the more likely scenario is that Northwestern keeps the Hat... again.