November 17, 2007

A flat finish

Northwestern certainly had a lot to play for on Saturday against Illinois. A win would have meant a bowl berth, bragging rights over the Wildcats' in-state rival and holding onto the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy for a school-record fifth straight season.

But Northwestern came out as flat as the farmlands around Champaign and took that tomahawk right between the eyes without putting up much of a fight. Illinois won 41-22, but the game wasn't as close as the final score indicated.

Illinois kicked Northwestern around Memorial Stadium for most of the game on Saturday. The Illini ran 88 plays for 541 yards and held onto the ball for 38:30. And Illinois quarterback Juice Williams pretty much did whatever he wanted against the Wildcats, accounting for 356 yards of offense and three touchdowns.

NU, meanwhile, displayed all the signs of a team that wasn't ready to play. On defense, they blew assignments and missed tackles. Offensively, they converted just 2 of 10 third downs. And as a team, they were flagged nine times for 79 yards in penalties, including seven in the first 30 minutes.

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