The Illini ran away from Northwestern, 48-27, almost entirely because Mikel Leshoure played as well as any running back ever has. With 330 yards on 32 carries, Mikel Leshoure set a school record for rushing yards in a game. The Illini total rushing offense on the day exceeded 500 total yards between four ball carriers. In an effort that is no doubt reminiscent of the college games that took place at Wrigley in the 1930’s, the game was decided by big offensive linemen and strong running backs.
For the Illini, the win over Northwestern makes them bowl eligible for the first time since 2007, and brings them out from under a cloud of disappointment after losing in back to back weeks in close games against Michigan and Minnesota.
Northwestern played very well in the game, especially first time starter Evan Watkins, who after early turnovers settled down and had a very productive second half, going 10 for 19 for 135 total yards. Another freshman, running back Mike Trumpy, had his own career day gaining over 100 yards on 12 carries.
This is a tough loss for Northwestern given how much build up there was for this game, and the amount of yards given up on the ground is sure to alarm Wildcats fans. Coach Fitzgerald certainly has to be happy with the way that his young QB and running back performed, and certainly have plenty of potential for upcoming seasons.
When all was said and done, the special rules and brick walls that had so many worried before the game began mattered very little, with the dreaded East end zone only entered once on an interception return. However, given the controversy, this will probably be the last college football game we will ever see at Wrigley.