Tomorrow afternoon, Illinois will play instate rival Northwestern at historic Wrigley Field.
Both programs are headed in opposite directions, with Northwestern following a huge home win against #13 Iowa and Illinois still looking for its sixth win of the season to become bowl eligible after back-to-back losses.
With ESPN’s College Gameday scheduled to be in attendance, the UI-NU game was already worth watching prior to today’s strange announcement about the Wrigley Field playing conditions.
One Way Ticket
Less than 24 hours before the scheduled kickoff between Illinois and Northwestern, the Big Ten has come out and said that the eastern end zone does not have enough space to be used safely for the game.
As a result, both teams will use the same end zone the entire game.
This announcement came as a surprise to both teams and Cubs’ officials who had been told previously that, while very cramped, the end zone was safe to use.
Both coaches have said that they don’t think the change will have a major effect on the game.
ESPN has more information on the switch and why the last-minute decision was made.
Writing Illini Projection
As has been the case in past games, Illinois will start out with a strong opening drive, with starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase leading the Illini down the field for an early touchdown.
The Wildcats will fight back to the red zone, but an Illinois interception will keep them off the scoreboard.
In the second quarter, Illinois will score again, this time on a long run by Mikel Leshoure to go up two touchdowns.
The Wildcats won’t lay down, however, and a deep pass from quarterback Evan Watkins to wide receiver Jeremy Ebert will bring Northwestern within seven.
Northwestern will come out of the half strong and quickly score to tie the game.
Illinois will be plagued by another slow start out of the halftime gates, and the Wildcats will take the lead late in the third with another deep touchdown pass.
However, Illinois will get three second-half field goals from Derek Dimke, including a last-second shot, to pull off the upset and get that difficult sixth victory.
Illinois 23, Northwestern 21
Illini Game MVP Prediction
Northwestern Game MVP Prediction
Some Predictions from the Credentialed
→ Bob Asmussen: (News Gazette): Illinois 28, Northwestern 27
→ Tom Young: (News Gazette): Illinois 28, Northwestern 27
→ Scott Powers (ESPN-Chicago): Northwestern 27, Illinois 21
→ Adam Rittenberg (ESPN): Northwestern 21, Illinois 20
Tomorrow’s kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. central time.
The game is on ESPN.
Writing Illini will have its play-by-play blogging and drive updates on its Twitter page.
Topics: A.J. Jenkins, AJ Jenkins, Anthony Santella, Big Ten, Chicago Cubs, Cubs, Dan Persa, Derek Dimke, ESPN, Evan Watkins, Illini, Illinois, Illinois Fighting Illini, Illinois Fighting Illini Football, Jarred Fayson, Martez Wilson, Mikel Leshoure, Nathan Scheelhaase, Northwestern, Northwestern Football, Northwestern Wildcats, Pat Fitzgerald, Ron Zook, Ron Zook Nathan Scheelhaase, Terry Hawthorne, University Of Illinois, Wrigley Field, Writing Illini