Wildcats need win Saturday

By Courtney Linehan

For Illinois, a win Saturday in Evanston, Ill., would mean the seniors finishing their seasons on a good note and the underclassmen riding a positive wave into the offseason.

“I think that’d be huge,” said head coach Ron Turner. “Obviously it’d be big for the seniors to go out, finishing their careers with two wins. I think it’d be big momentum for the offseason for the young guys.”

For Northwestern, however, winning means only one thing stands between it and a trip to a bowl game – another win, this one in Hawaii on Nov. 27.

The Wildcats are led by senior running back Noah Herron, who has rushed for 1,194 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

“Northwestern is sound on offense and on defense,” said Illinois redshirt-freshman linebacker J Leman. “Offensively, Noah Herron, you can’t say enough about him; he’s a do-it-all guy.”

The Wildcats are 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten. Last weekend they lost 42-20 against Michigan, as Herron had 23 carries, scoring on a season-long 68-yard run.

“They’re a tough matchup, but I think we play well,” Leman said. “We get up for Northwestern usually, so I’m excited for it.”

Illinois head coach Ron Turner said a late conference win will be good for the Illini.

“They’re a good team, I think they’ve proven that,” Turner said of Northwestern. “They’re a very good football team, and any time you can beat somebody in the Big Ten it’s a quality win.”

Honorable Mentions

Saturday is Northwestern’s Senior Day, on which 15 players will be honored.

Approximately 50 former female athletes will also be honored. Varsity letters will be awarded to those athletes who competed for the Women’s Athletic Association before women were eligible to receive letters.

Sweet Sioux

In 1945, the staffs of Northwestern’s and Illinois’ student newspapers began a tradition in which the winning team of the two schools’ annual matchup maintained possession of a trophy until the next matchup. In 1948, the Tomahawk Trophy was introduced, and the same trophy is still used today.

Illinois leads the series against Northwestern 31-24-2, but Northwestern currently controls the trophy, having beaten Illinois 37-20 in 2003.

Justin’s Jam

Illinois freshman defensive back Justin Harrison should recover enough from a hand injury suffered in Illinois’ last game to play in the final contest of the season.

Harrison broke his thumb in the Indiana game Nov. 6 at Memorial Stadium.

“He won’t have much (mobility) at all,” Turner said. “He’ll have his thumb and his index finger, but he won’t be able to move at all.”