current subscribers Register me
not a subscriber? See my options

current subscribers Register me
not a subscriber? See my options

already a subscriber? Register me
Subscribe now See my options
College Football
Preview
Illinois at Northwestern
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, November 29, 2014
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois

State bragging rights and bowl eligibility are on the line when Illinois visits Northwestern in the regular-season finale for both on Saturday. The Illini, who have come from behind in the fourth quarter in all five of their wins, rallied with a pair of field goals to edge Penn State 16-14 last week to earn a chance to finish at .500. The Wildcats won at Notre Dame and Purdue the last two weeks after dropping four straight and scored 87 points combined to beat Illinois the last two seasons.

Illinois has not played in a bowl game the last two seasons and must win its first road contest (0-4) to end the slide. It may come down to quarterback play as both Reilly O’Toole and Wes Lunt took snaps for the Illini last week, while Northwestern must go with backup Zack Oliver after Trevor Siemian was lost to a knee injury. “It comes down to a one-game season for us,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. “We’ve been through a lot this calendar year.”

TV: Noon ET, ESPNU. LINE: Northwestern –8

ABOUT ILLINOIS (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten): Lunt, who threw for at least 266 yards in four of his first five games this season before suffering a broken leg, struggled against Penn State while completing only 8-of-17 passes for 58 yards. O’Toole went 18-of-25 in relief against the Nittany Lions and was still listed as the backup on the depth chart midweek. Whoever gets most of the time under center will be looking for Mike Dudek, who has set Illinois freshman records for receptions (62) and receiving yards (902) while standing one shy of the TD mark with five.

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (5-6, 3-4): Fitzgerald told reporters the starter would be Oliver, who is 7-of-19 on the season for 146 yards and a touchdown as a junior, but freshman Matt Alviti will also play. The Wildcats must get another big game from freshman running back Justin Jackson after he put up 149 and 147 yards rushing the last two weeks while scoring three TDs combined. Northwestern will lean on its defense, which is tied for 12th in the nation with 26 turnovers forced and has allowed 23.2 points per contest (tied for 37th).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Northwestern LB Chi Chi Ariguzo leads the team with 92 tackles.

2. Illinois RB Josh Ferguson is one of two active FBS players with at least 1,700 career rushing yards (1,733) and 1,000 receiving yards (1,136), joining D.J. Foster of Arizona State.

3. Northwestern WR Kyle Prater has 22 of his team-leading 51 receptions in the last three games.

PREDICTION: Northwestern 24, Illinois 21
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Illinois 5-6 W1 24.7 34.0 5-2 0-4 0-0 0-0 2-5
Northwestern 5-6 W2 22.1 23.2 2-4 3-2 5-4 0-0 3-4
Last Meeting
Illinois Northwestern
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/30/13 NW 37 ILL 34 492 185 307 560 146 414
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Illinois N. Scheelhaase 68.9 307 2 1
Northwestern T. Siemian 70.5 414 4 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Illinois J. Ferguson 14 110 7.9 2
Northwestern T. Green 21 69 3.3 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Illinois S. Hull 13 155 11.9 1
Northwestern C. Jones 13 182 14.0 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Illinois J. Ferguson 2
Northwestern C. Jones 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Illinois W. Lunt 63.7 1729 14 3
Northwestern T. Siemian 58.2 2214 7 11
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Illinois J. Ferguson 124 590 4.8 6
Northwestern J. Jackson 221 1057 4.8 8
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Illinois M. Dudek 62 902 14.5 5
Northwestern K. Prater 51 535 10.5 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Illinois J. Ferguson 8
Northwestern J. Jackson 9
Quickchart Matchup
Illinois Off vs  Northwestern Def
353.4 yards
379.4 yards
3.4 yards/rush
4 yards/rush
7 yards/attempt
6.6 yards/attempt
Northwestern Off vs  Illinois Def
351.4 yards
472.7 yards
3.3 yards/rush
5.2 yards/rush
5.8 yards/attempt
7.9 yards/attempt