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Our writers think Illinois bounces back against Northwestern

We see the Illini ending the regular season on a high note.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Illinois Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ethan Holesha: Illinois 42, Northwestern 7

Illinois is coming off of three straight losses so this will be a big frustration win. Northwestern has been horrendous all year and will be dominated by the Illini. Look for massive games from Tommy Devito and Chase Brown.

Matt Rejc: Illinois 38, Northwestern 10

Only horrible turnover luck or another bizarre weather day could make this a competitive game. This is far and away the worst Northwestern team that the Illini have faced in years. Illinois keeps the HAT, Chase Brown rushes for 150+ yards, and the Illini cruise into bowl prep with some much needed momentum. On the other side, much bigger questions will need to be addressed this offseason in Evanston. It was unthinkable just two years ago, but Pat Fitzgerald’s seat will be getting noticeably warmer if he can’t get the ‘Cats to a bowl game in 2023. Northwestern is just 4-19 (2-15) since the start of the 2021 season. Much like Scott Frost at Nebraska, Fitzgerald has regularly reeled in highly rated recruits and transfers, so it’s clearly not a talent issue at Northwestern.

Will Charlton: Illinois 21, Northwestern 6

This game will be weird. It’ll be a really slow first half for both sides, with possessions being traded often. A big play by the offense or defense will set the Illini up for their first touchdown and will be up at halftime 7-3. The second half will be much cleaner for Illinois. They’ll dominate time of possession, be more efficient on offense, and will make the Wildcats struggle in all facets. Expect a very tight first half since it’s a rivalry game, but also expect Illinois to pull away eventually against the worst power 5 team. Yep, Northwestern is the worst team in all of power 5. ILL.

Ethan Parker: Illinois 31, Northwestern 13

Illinois goes to visit little brother this holiday weekend, as they look to get some anger out of their system. Chase Brown runs for over 110 sprinkled in with some Tommy TD’s to get everyone involved. With this being Northwestern’s last game I see them putting up a fight, but in no way should their effort result in more than 14 points. Illinois wins this one and moves on to a luscious bowl game.

Pleas Honeywood: Illinois 24, Northwestern 7

This game screams bounce back performance for Ryan Walters’ unit. They were solid against Michigan, but I expect the spectacular to return. And if this is Walters’ last game on the sidelines, give that man his flowers (and his Broyles Award) now. Even if it isn’t, I think the Illini offense will do enough to give the defense some breathing room. And if all goes well, I may be seeing you all in Nashville.

Drew Pastorek: Illinois 27, Northwestern 10

Illinois IS NOT losing to this team. Put it in Sharpie. Northwestern plays hard and will be prepared, but they have no squad. They’re the best team in Ireland, but they’re the worst Power 5 team in America. It’s unfortunate that Scott Frost ruined the chance for us to witness a winless Wildcats season. The Illinois team that showed up against Michigan is more emblematic of the guys we saw in August, September, and October, and they will be fired up and play with the same emotional intensity we saw last week.

Chase Brown will rush for 150–175 yards, claim the Illini’s all-time single-season rushing record, and lock up the Doak Walker Award (I stg if they give that to Blake Corum, somebody is gonna get a strongly-worded email). Tommy DeVito is also in really good position to finish with the best single-season completion percentage for an Illini QB, so I expect to see a lot of the usual short-to-intermediate passing plays we’ve come to expect. Illinois will control the clock, force at least two takeaways, and hang on to the Hat.

Please don’t send this team to the Pinstripe Bowl…

Kyle Tausk: Illinois 24, Northwestern 0

That’s right, I’m going with a shutout! I think Illinois is going to rally for their final game of the regular season and dominate this putrid Northwestern team. I don’t think Northwestern’s offense will be able to do anything on what should be an inspired Illini defense following their performance in Ann Arbor last week. I don’t foresee an issue getting Chase Brown the 117 yards he needs to break the single season program rushing record either. Illini keep the Land of Lincoln Trophy in Champaign without much of a sweat.