Nov. 26, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the second straight year, Northwestern and Illinois will close their regular seasons by competing for the Land of Lincoln Trophy, this season staging their post-Thanksgiving rivalry clash at U of I's Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m. on BTN. The two teams have split their four meetings since the Land of Lincoln Trophy replaced the hardware formerly handed out in the series -- the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk -- in the 2009 campaign.
Saturday marks the 107th all-time meeting between Northwestern and Illinois since 1892, the most for the Wildcats against any one opponent. The teams have met every year since 1927.
Fans can catch the live television broadcast on the Big Ten Network with Eric Collins, Chuck Long and Jon Jansen on the call, or listen to WGN720 in Chicago, the flagship radio station of Northwestern Football.
All-Time Series: Illinois leads, 54-47-5
Current Streak: Northwestern won 1
Previous Meeting: Nov. 24, 2012 (Evanston) Northwestern 50, Illinois 14
The Last Meeting
November 24, 2012
Northwestern Routs Illinois, Reclaims Land of Lincoln Trophy, 50-14
Northwestern built a 27-14 halftime lead and poured it on in the second half, posting a 50-14 victory over rival Illinois on Senior Day at Ryan Field Saturday. Junior QB Kain Colter directed the NU offense to the tune of 88 yards and one TD on the ground and a career-best three passing touchdowns, helping the Wildcats reclaim the Land of Lincoln Trophy in the process.
The last time these rivals met, Northwestern built a 27-14 halftime lead and poured it on in the second half, posting a 50-14 victory over rival Illinois on Senior Day at Ryan Field. Kain Colter directed the NU offense to the tune of 88 yards and one TD on the ground and a career-best three passing touchdowns, Venric Mark racked up 127 rushing yards, and the defense intercepted two different Illini QBs a total of three times.
Although it ended in defeat, NU's last trip to Champaign produced more positive memories for a few current Wildcats, including RB Treyvon Green. As a true freshman playing in his first Big Ten game in 2011, Green led the 'Cats with 17 rushes for 67 yards. Also in that game, LB Collin Ellis made his first career start and collegiate appearance (having missed the first three games of 2011 with an injury) and notched a sack of QB Nathan Scheelhaase, one of Ellis' three tackles on the day.
Northwestern offensive coordinator Mick McCall and wide receivers coach Dennis Springer each spent two seasons on the same coaching staff as Illinois head coach Tim Beckman while at Bowling Green in 2003 and 2004. McCall was the quarterbacks coach for the Falcons and Springer oversaw the running backs while Beckman was the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Illinois linebackers coach Mike Ward also was on that staff, coaching BG's defensive line.
NU starting superback Dan Vitale was a high school teammate of Illinois backup QB Reilly O'Toole at Wheaton Warrenville South in Wheaton, Ill. Vitale, a tailback in high school, graduated one class behind O'Toole.
Northwestern Game Notes
Budzien Leaves Mark on NU Record Book
Senior PK Jeff Budzien, the 2012 Bakken-Andersen Big Ten Kicker of the Year, is closing out a record-setting career with the Wildcats and has built a substantial case both to repeat as the conference's top kicker and to take home All-America and Lou Groza Award honors. Among Budzien's accomplishments this season:
Ranks No. 1 in the Big Ten in field goals made (20, five more than his closest competitor) and field goal percentage (90.9, 20-of-22); also No. 2 among all Big Ten players with 8.3 ppg.
His 90.9 conversion rate ranks No. 1 in the country among kickers with at least 20 attempts, while his 20 makes are one off the current FBS leaders (M. Hunnicutt, OKLA, Ryan Bustin, TTU)
Against Michigan State, Budzien became Northwestern's all-time leader in career points (267), topping the previous mark of 262 held since 1998 by PK Brian Gowins
With 20 field goals this year, Budzien is tied with Gowins (1997) and Amado Villarreal (2008) for the Northwestern single-season record
Budzien is a perfect 132-for-132 in his career on extra point attempts, the most of any current FBS kicker with a 100-percent success rate
Wildcats Defense Aims to Finish A Strong Season
Northwestern's defense began the year with a pair of pick-sixes in the season-opener at California and has been a source of strength for NU ever since.
The Wildcats stand in a four-way tie for third in the Big Ten with 25 sacks on the year (2.27 pg) and also are third with 6.5 tackles for loss per outing, behind only Nebraska (7.3) and Ohio State (6.8).
Senior DE Tyler Scott is enjoying an All-Big Ten-caliber end to his career, ranking sixth in the league with 6.0 sacks and leading NU's D-line with 41 total tackles.
NU continues to rank tied for fourth in the country with 18 interceptions (1.64 pg), two shy of matching a Northwestern single-season mark set in 1948 and 2005. The 'Cats rank in the top 30 nationally in total turnovers gained with 22.
Senior LB Damien Proby is fourth in the Big Ten with 8.8 tackles per game, entering play this weekend two tackles shy of reaching the 100-tackle plateau for a second straight season (112, 2012)
If cleared to play Saturday from a health standpoint, senior QB Kain Colter
will play his final collegiate game against the same opponent against whom he first stepped on the field as a true freshman in 2010. Colter took off his redshirt with two regular-season games remaing after a season-ending injury to Dan Persa
and made his debut against the Illini in the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic at Wrigley Field. Colter recorded three rushes for 10 yards in that game.
Also in that memorable 2010 matchup at the Friendly Confines, RB Mike Trumpy came up with what remains the longest rush of his NU career, an 80-yard touchdown. But Illinois' Mikel Leshoure stole the show with a record-setting 330 yards as the Illini won the first college football game at Wrigley Field since 1938 by a score of 48-27.
The NU defense is tasked with containing prolific Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase, who last week against Purdue became the 10th player in Big Ten history to reach 10,000 career yards of total offense. The senior averages 269.5 passing yards per game, while Josh Ferguson provides the spark out of the backfield with his 5.3-yard per carry rushing average. The Illini rank third in the Big Ten and 23rd nationally in third-down conversion percentage (47.7) and are 17th in the country in completion percentage (66.1).
Download the PDFs linked at the top of the page for complete Northwestern and Illinois game notes.
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