Illinois repeats Land of Lincoln rivalry win, ends regular season 8-4

Owen+Carney+Jr.+hoists+the+Land+of+Lincoln+Trophy+following+Illinois+47-14+win+over+Northwestern+at+Memorial+Stadium+in+2021.

Jackson Janes

Owen Carney Jr. hoists the Land of Lincoln Trophy following Illinois’ 47-14 win over Northwestern at Memorial Stadium in 2021.

By Jonathan Alday, Assistant Sports Editor

By Jonathan Alday

Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois wrapped up its regular season against in-state rival Northwestern, holding onto the Land of Lincoln Trophy for a second year in a row via a 41-3 win. 

After an early exit by the nation’s leading rusher, junior running back Chase Brown, sophomore Reggie Love III picked up 43 yards and a touchdown off a 20-yard and 12-yard run to put Illinois up early in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, junior cornerback Devon Witherspoon undercut a pass during Northwestern’s first trip to the red zone, taking it the opposite way 57 yards to flip the field for Illinois. Illinois took it to the red zone but could not capitalize, settling for a field goal. Illinois came up with another interception with about five minutes left in the first half, this time via senior safety Sydney Brown. Illinois punted on the ensuing drive.

After some offensive struggles, Illinois exploded out of the gun after favorable field placement at the tail end of the first half. Senior quarterback Tommy DeVito hit sophomore wide receiver Pat Bryant on back-to-back plays for a combined 21 yards. Love then found a gap for a huge run for 32 yards to get the Illini within five yards of the endzone. DeVito snuck across the goal line to cap off the drive and put them up 17 before halftime.

Witherspoon closed out the first half with his second pick of the day off a hail mary pass by Northwestern quarterback Cole Freeman.

Chase Brown returned in time for the second half, finding gaps in the defense to inch closer to the endzone. Illinois settled for another field goal to expand the score by 20.

The second half did not prove any better for the Wildcats as the offense struggled to get anything going against the Illini defense. The point couldn’t be proven further as Sydney Brown scooped-and-scored a mishandled exchange for a touchdown, adding seven more to the board. Brown soon added another touchdown, this time off a pick-six for 37 yards.

Northwestern canceled the shutout with a field goal toward the start of the fourth quarter.

Illinois would continue to put the pressure on Northwestern, hitting Chase Brown for 43 yards to get them back in scoring position. Brown walked in, untouched, to complete the 41-3 blowout for Illinois.

Shortly after the game, Indiana, despite holding a lead early in the game, was unable to hold off Purdue, losing 30-10. The final scoreline of the game punched the Boilermakers’ ticket to Indianapolis to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship. The Boilermakers’ win officially delivered the Big Ten West title to West Lafayette.

The Illini (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) will now wait for Dec. 4 to see where they will travel and who they will play in their first bowl appearance since 2019.

 

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