Illinois Week – A Recent History

Get that DeLorean to 88, Marty, we’re taking a look back at the recent history between Northwestern and Illinois.

2011: In Which the ‘Cats Squander an 18 Point Second Half Lead

I wanted the 2011 game in Champaign badly after the debacle at Wrigley Field in 2010 (we’ll get there). Dan Persa was making his debut after his Achilles injury. Though the Illini were ranked at the time, the ‘Cats (led by #7), jumped out to an insurmountable a 28-10 lead in the second half. Eighteen points evaporated quickly as Scheelhaase-to-Jenkins somehow turned itself to Montana-to-Rice. The Illini signal caller threw for 393 yards and three TD’s (all to Jenkins). A.J. Jenkins torched the Northwestern secondary for 268 (WTF?) yards and three touchdowns.


I still hold to this day that this performance singlehandedly got Jenkins drafted; it constituted 23% of his entire yardage haul last year. 23%?!

/Double-checks his math

/Steps away from computer

/Violently vomits

Ok, I’m back. Persa finished 10/14 with 4 TD and 123 yards before removing himself due to injury. If you want to relive the horror, here’s the game recap.

2010: Wrigley Field

Let’s start with the positives, shall we? College Gameday was there. The atmosphere was electric. They painted the marquee purple! This was a big deal. A lot of buzz for the Northwestern football program. Also it was my senior year. Senior year was a good year for Roche.

Wrigley Gettin’ Purple’d Out (AP Images)

But then the game started. Dan Persa’s Junior season had ended the week before against Iowa with an Achilles injury. Mike Trumpy broke his hand during the game. Evan Watkins wasn’t yet taking his talents to the superback position. Mikel Leshoure happened. 33 carries, 330 yards (speaking of games that get players singlehandedly drafted). I’m going to stop doing this to myself. 48-27, Illini win. For the masochists out there, here’s the game recap.

2009: In Which Northwestern Almost Squanders an 18 Point 4th Quarter Lead

The week before the Wisconsin win that sent us to the Outback Bowl and the week after handing jIowa its first loss in Iowa City, the ‘Cats went south. Illinois was having a rough go of things, and Northwestern was surging after suffering early season losses against Syracuse and Minnesota. Here’s what I remember mostly about this game: it wasn’t on TV. I had to watch it on ESPN3. Back in 2009, the program wasn’t close to what it was now. It was choppy. I can’t imagine this game not being televised on at least BTN ever again. So dry your years, 2009 Roche, HD will be forever in your future. Mike Kafka (new Steelers backup?) threw for 307/1 TD, and both he and Arby Fields (throwback!) rushed for a touchdown as well. After opening up an insurmountable a 21-3 lead in the 4th, the #B1GCats saw the lead evaporate before intercepting the Illini late in the 4th to seal the victory. Game Recap? Game Recap

2008: In Which the ‘Cats Doesn’t Squander a 17 Point 4th Quarter Lead

The last time the ‘Cats got to 9 wins was the 2008 season. CJ Bacher led Northwestern to a 27-10 win on Senior Day. He threw for 230 yards and 2 TD, Stephen Simmons added another on the ground and Amado Villarreal contributed two FG’s. The Illini came in at 5-6 and were a far cry from the team that made it to the Rose Bowl the year before. Not having Rashard Mendenhall will do that to you. Illinois pulled within 6 points on a 4th quarter Matt Eller FG, but the ‘Cats answered immediately, and the game was pretty much over after that Eric Peterman TD. Game recap is here.


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