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GAMEDAY College Football

Illinois 41, Northwestern 3

By MATT CARLSON
Associated Press

EVANSTON, Ill. - Safety Sydney Brown returned a touchdown and an interception for scores and Illinois snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-3 rout of Northwestern.

Brown raced 53 yards for a touchdown after Northwestern quarterback Cole Freeman fumbled, then sprinted in for a 39-yard score off an interception, both in the third quarter.

Illinois (8-4 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) entered with a chance to win the Big Ten West and advance to the conference championship for the first time. However, Purdue defeated Indiana 30-16 to win the division title and will play Michigan at Indianapolis next Saturday.

Still, the Illini took a huge step forward under second-year coach Bret Bielema and now look forward to playing in a postseason bowl game... somewhere.

It just won't be for the Big Ten crown.

"This year we were a game shy of making it to Indy, and a lot of positive steps for our program," Bielema said, "I couldn't be more excited about this team and where we're at, but more importantly where we're going.

"We lost four (conference) games that were one-score games," Bielema added. "That will motivate and galvanize, whatever, you want to say to myself and the coaching staff during the offseason as much as anything - those four that got away from us."

Brown's twin brother, running back Chase Brown, punched in a 1-yard touchdown and finished with 61 yards on 19 carries. He entered leading the nation in yards rushing with 1,582 yards but fell short of Mikel Leshoure's single-season school record of 1,697 in 2010.

Sydney Brown was trying to digest scoring twice off defensive plays, something he hadn't done since high school in London, Ontario.

"I love interceptions, that's always on my mind," Brown said. "Anyway I can get in the box (score), that's fun."

But he really wanted more yards for his brother.

"I said it to him on the side, if I get another turnover I'm going to reverse the field on the 20, 25 just so you can go get the rushing record. That's all I wanted for him today."

But Bielema didn't push Chase Brown, who played with an injured ankle.

"Chase, I just didn't want to put him back in there at the end," Bielema said, while joking that he might have put brother Sydney in at tailback. "I just thought it was something I didn't want to press the envelope on today."

Tommy DeVito threw for 136 yards on 12-for-18 passing and ran for a touchdown, and Reggie Love III scored on 2-yard touchdown run to get the Illinois offense rolling. Caleb Griffin kicked a pair of field goals as the Illini finished with eight or more wins for the first time since the 2007 Rose Bowl team finished 9-4.

The Illini have a winning conference record for the first time since 2007 when they went 6-2.

The Illini handed Northwestern its 11th straight loss following a season-opening win over Nebraska in Dublin, Ireland. The Wildcats, 1-8 in the Big Ten, managed only Adam Stage's field goal.

Northwestern seemed be getting on a roll with several drives in the first half, but Freeman, a second-year walk-on, threw three of his four interceptions in his second career start.

Freeman was replaced by Jack Lausch after his fourth interception.

TOUGHER LOSSES

Bielema fought back tears in the postgame presser, but not because his team narrowly missed the Big Ten title game.

Bielema's mother, Marilyn, died on Thursday, Nov. 17, but he was on the sidelines two days later against Michigan.

Following the win over Northwestern, Bielema revealed that his father-in-law, Greg, had passed away last Tuesday in Florida. The coach traveled to services and didn't rejoin the Illini until Friday night.

"I never saw my team again until late last night," Bielema said. "I just knew from watching them last night and their intensity today that they were going to play pretty well."

Bielema said was close to his father-in-law.

"He and I did fishing trips," Bielema said. "I even took him to Vegas. Who takes their father-in-law to Vegas, right?"

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois: The Illini continue to progress under Bielema, improving on their 5-7 overall and 4-5 conference records in 2021.

Illinois peaked at 7-1, 4-1 Big Ten and No. 14 in the national after a 26-9 win over Nebraska on Oct. 29.

Northwestern: Error-prone and injury-raked, Northwestern became decreasingly competitive as the season wore on and the losses grew more lopsided.

November 26, 2022


Scoring Summary
First Quarter IllNW
Ill TD 5:22 Reggie Love III 2 yd run (Caleb Griffin kick) 7 0
Second Quarter IllNW
Ill FG 7:57 Caleb Griffin 23 yd FG 10 0
Ill TD 1:25 Tommy DeVito 1 yd run (Caleb Griffin kick) 17 0
Third Quarter IllNW
Ill FG 8:51 Caleb Griffin 43 yd FG 20 0
Ill TD 7:23 Sydney Brown 53 yd fumble return (Caleb Griffin kick) 27 0
Ill TD 4:06 Sydney Brown 39 yd interception return (Caleb Griffin kick) 34 0
Fourth Quarter IllNW
NW FG 12:17 Adam Stage 28 yd FG 34 3
Ill TD 5:25 Chase Brown 1 yd run (Caleb Griffin kick) 41 3
Team Stats
  Illinois Northwestern
First downs 16 22
  Rushing 7 11
  Passing 7 8
  Penalty 2 3
3rd Down Efficiency 4-10, 40% 6-16, 38%
4th down efficiency 1-1, 100% 1-3, 33%
Rushes-Yards 36-156 49-154
Passing Yards 136 167
Return Yards 96 0
Completions-Attempts-Int 12-18-1 17-31-5
Sacks-Yards Lost 3--12 2--3
Punts 3 4
Punts-Average 49.3 36
Fumbles Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties - Yards 5-42 5-44
Time of Possession 26:39 33:21
Illinois Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
T. DeVito 12 18 136 0 1
Northwestern Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
C. Freeman 12 22 93 0 4
J. Lausch 4 8 68 0 1
M. Washington 1 1 6 0 0
Illinois Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
R. Love III 11 85 7.7 1
C. Brown 19 61 3.2 1
H. Robertson 1 23 23.0 0
T. DeVito 4 -11 -2.8 1
Northwestern Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
E. Hull 20 53 2.7 0
A. Clair 3 35 11.7 0
C. Freeman 7 32 4.6 0
M. Washington 3 19 6.3 0
J. Himon II 2 15 7.5 0
A. Tyus III 4 8 2.0 0
C. Porter 3 6 2.0 0
J. Lausch 6 -3 -0.5 0
Illinois Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
C. Brown 1 43 43.0 0
P. Bryant 3 33 11.0 0
C. Washington 3 22 7.3 0
L. Ford 1 17 17.0 0
I. Williams 3 16 5.3 0
H. Beatty 1 5 5.0 0
Northwestern Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
M. Washington 7 56 8.0 0
E. Hull 3 33 11.0 0
C. Johnson II 2 23 11.5 0
J. Gill 1 20 20.0 0
D. Gray 1 18 18.0 0
G. Hooper Price 2 11 5.5 0
C. Porter 1 6 6.0 0
Illinois Interceptions
Player Int Yards
D. Witherspoon 2 57
S. Brown 2 39
T. Strain 1 0
Northwestern Interceptions
Player Int Yards
R. Heard II 1 0
Illinois Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
H. Robertson 3 148 49.3
Northwestern Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
L. Akers 3 102 34.0
H. Renner 1 42 42.0
Illinois Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Northwestern Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Illinois Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Northwestern Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Illinois Missed FG
Player Length
Northwestern Missed FG
Player Length




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