Box Score |
Illinois won the coin toss and elected to kick off.
This was the 102nd all-time meeting between Illinois and Northwestern, and the 62nd Sweet Sioux Tomahawk rivalry contest. Earlier this week, the University of Illinois announced that this would be the final Tomahawk trophy game out of respect to the Native-American community. With the Northwestern win, Illinois now leads the overall series 52-45-5. The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy series ended in favor of the Illini, 32-28-2. Northwestern will retain permanent possession of the trophy and it will be displayed in a Wildcat trophy case. The two schools are expected to announce a new rivalry trophy series early next year.
Northwestern has won five of the last six meetings with the Illini. Since 1995, NU is 9-5 against Illinois. Northwestern and Illinois have played each year dating to 1927.
With the victory, Northwestern (9-3, 5-3) now has nine wins in 2008. The Wildcats are just the fifth team in school history to win nine or more games. Northwestern also has won four or more conference games for the fourth time in the last six years.
NU coach Pat Fitzgerald, in his third year as the Wildcats' head coach, became just the fourth NU head coach to guide a team to nine or more wins in a season.
Northwestern's senior class (2004-08) concludes the regular season with 32 wins in their career, the most by any five-year class since the early 1900's. The class helped post a .500 or better record in four of their five seasons (6-6 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 6-6 in 2007 and 9-3 in 2008).
For the fifth straight season, Northwestern won its final home game of the year. In 2004, the Wildcats defeated Illinois; in 2005, NU defeated Iowa; in 2006, NU defeated Illinois; in 2007, NU defeated Indiana.
Northwestern finished the regular season with a 5-2 record at home; 4-1 on the road. The Wildcats went 3-1 in November, with their only late-season loss coming to Big Ten co-champion Ohio State.
Northwestern moved to 7-0 this season when carrying a lead into the fourth quarter.
QB C.J. Bachér completed 22-of-33 passes for 230 yards and a pair of TD's. With his 230 yards, he became joined Brett Basanez (2002-05) and Len Williams (1990-93) as the only quarterbacks in school history to throw for 7,000 or more career yards. Bachér now has 7,015 career passing yards. His 230-yard game marked the 22nd time (out of 27 career starts) that he has passed for 200 or more yards in a game. His two TD passes also gave him 40 for his career, which ranks fourth all-time.
Bachér totaled 264 yards of total offense, giving him 7,300 for his career, which moves him past Zak Kustok and into third place at NU.
The Wildcats are 16-11 with Bachér as the starting quarterback.
RB Stephen Simmons, making his third career start in place of injured RB's Tyrell Sutton and Omar Conteh, ran for a career-best 69 yards (3.1 ypc) and a touchdown. Bachér added 34 rushing yards, his fourth-best single-game total of the season.
Senior WR Eric Peterman set single-game season-bests with eight catches and 111 receiving yards. His key fourth-quarter TD (18-yard pass from Bachér with 9:08 to play) gave him a team-leading five TD catches this year. Peterman finishes the season with a team-best 654 receiving yards. He also moved into fourth place on NU's career receiving yardage list with 1,928 yards. Last year against Illinois, Peterman, who hails from Springfield, Ill., had 10 catches for 120 yards.
It was the fourth time in Peterman's career he has totaled 100 or more receiving yards. He has caught at least one pass in 29 straight games.
Senior WR Ross Lane moved to within nine yards of reaching the 2,000-yard mark for career receiving yardage. Lane, who had six catches for 57 yards vs. Illinois, now has 158 career receptions (sixth all-time) for 1,991 yards (third all-time). Peterman now has 153 career receptions (eighth all-time).
Lane's first-half touchdown reception was the 12th of his career, which moves him into sole possession of sixth place on NU's career TD list.
S Brendan Smith helped set up NU's fourth-quarter touchdown with a key 51-yard punt return, the longest of the season and his career. He finished with 58 punt return yards (two attempts).
DE Kevin Mims led NU with a single-game career-best 2.5 sacks. As a unit, Northwestern totaled five sacks for the game, upping its season total to 33. Mims now has 7.5 sacks for his career. Mims also totaled seven tackles and a forced fumble. DE Corey Wootton added a 0.5 sack, giving him 9.0 for the season.
Northwestern's defense held the Big Ten's top offense to 335 yards, 113 yards below its average, and a season-low 10 points. Illinois' previous single-game low for points was 17 (against Wisconsin and Western Michigan). NU limited the Illini to 86 yards and no points in the first half.
NU added two more scoreless quarters to its season ledger, giving the Wildcat defense 20 scoreless quarters in 2008.
P Stefan Demos, who came into the game with the Big Ten's highest percentage of punts to land inside the 20-yard line, added two more to his season total, giving him 25 for year (out of 58 punts).
S Brad Phillips, who ranked seventh in Big Ten tackles per game with 8.4 per outing, had nine tackles today, which included 1.5 TFL's. He closes the regular season as NU's leader in tackles with 101.
PK Amado Villarreal booted a pair of field goals (on two attempts), to up his season total to 19-of-23 (82.6 percent), one field goal shy of NU's single-season record (20), set by Brian Gowins in 1997. Villarreal made a field goal in 10 of the Wildcats' 12 games this season. He did not attempt a field goal against Syracuse (Aug. 30) or Michigan (Nov. 15). Villarreal is 32-of-42 for his career, an NU-best 76.2 percent.
Northwestern, which entered the game ranked 31st nationally in scoring defense, lowered its season defensive average to 19.3. The Wildcats held seven of their 12 opponents (Syracuse, Southern Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois) to 17 points or less.
Northwestern's current 127.7 rushing yards allowed per game is the best single-season average in school history.
LB Prince Kwateng led all NU players with 11 tackles, which equaled a career single-game best. Kwateng, who has totaled 11 tackles in a game three times, also had 11 hits against Michigan State (2008) and Duke (2008).
LB Quentin Davie recovered his first career fumble today.
CB Sherrick McManis notched his fourth career interception today.
Northwestern will learn its postseason bowl destination no later than Sunday, Dec. 7.