LIVE! From Wrigley Field! The Allstate Wrigleyville Classic!

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12:30 PM, Central: HELLO EVERYBODY!!!! It’s an exciting day in my neighborhood!  This is Paul Schmidt, and I’m hunkered down in The Sports Bank’s underground secret auxiliary headquarters, and I’m getting fired up for a stroll down to Wrigley Field.

That happens often to me, as even when the Cubs are terrible, I get fired up for baseball at Wrigley, but today, I’m covering the first college football game at Wrigley Field since 1938!!  It’s been so long since there was a college football game there that the two teams that played in that game, DePaul and St. Louis, don’t even have football programs any more!

It’s going to be a historic day at Wrigley, and just like Northwestern and Illinois, I’m proud to be a part of that history, as is THE CEO, Paul M. Banks (also covering the game). There’s a ton of story lines today, and we all know them at this point, and we’ll be revisiting ALL of them throughout the day, as we bring you all of the action and all of the sites and sounds from Wrigley!
In the meantime, check out all of these awesome links we’ve got for you today. There’s a ton of stories here on the game, and every bit of it is coated in awesome!

Wait, exclusive video with Erin Andrews about the game???? YES PLEASE!!

Great feature story with Damien Anderson, Northwestern’s leading rusher and local boy (GO YOU WILMINGTON WILDCATS!!).

Our story on the field layout at Wrigley.

And…finally…Paul M. Banks’ brutally honest game preview!  For the record, I disagree — Illinois 35, Northwestern 24 is my call.

We’ll be back once we walk — YES, WALK! — to the stadium and get settled in the press box. It’s a great day, make sure you check back in with us!!

2:24 PM  — Closing in on kickoff….National Anthem time….

2:27 PM — OK….some chills there. Seriously. That was pretty damn cool.

2:31 PM — Both teams take the field…I think that the crowd sound was pretty even, if not a little louder for the Illini.  Let’s call the crowd a non-factor here early on…

2:34 PM — Illinois wins the toss and will receive.  Let’s do this thing…bowl eligibility on the line for the Illini!

2:36 PM — Nice kick return by Millines and we’re underway at Wrigley!

2:36 PM —LOTS of Illinois fans here and you just heard them on Mikel Leshoure’s 34 yard run on the first play of the game.

2:37 PM —Ummmm…wow. Mikel Leshoure ladies and gentlemen! over 60 yards rushing on two plays!

2:38 PM — FEED 5!!!! Touchdown Mikel Leshoure!!! Three plays, all Leshoure runs, Illinois leads 7-0!  Wowsa.

2:40 PM — Switch sides, NU ball.  That was actually a little more natural than I anticipated.

2:41 PM — Turnover, quick sack-fumble combo, Illinois ball.  Sides switch. OK…that was a little more unnatural.

2:45 PM — Ruling on the field confirmed and the Illini start now at the NU 30.  Or their own 30. with the field switch it is hard to keep track. Illini now in the red zone…

2:47 PM — Last drive was all Leshoure, this one all Nathan Scheelhaase early on. Leshoure just got his first carry of the drive, 9 yards. He’ll have 100 before the end of the half at this pace.

2:49 PM — Leshoure gets hit in the backfield, bowls the Mildcat defense (yes, intentional) over, and hits paydirt for the second time. They have yet to throw a pass yet. And they lead by two scores. This is gonna get ugly.

2:51 PM — The Illini crowd is getting fired up here at Wrigley, and it has been loud here for them early.  Not much to cheer for for the Mildcats, to be fair though…

2:55 PM — Martez Wilson with his first sack of the game! Watkins follows it up by exploiting the bad Illini secondary.

2:57 PM — ANOTHER NU turnover! WOW. Bellamy goes down for the Illini…strips the ball but takes a shot to the head from, I think, Clay Nurse. Respot the ball, Illini take over first and ten!

2:59 PM — Just a quick photo of my seat….

3:02 PM — And that my friends, is why Eddie McGee shouldn’t throw the ball. Wow.  What the blue hell was that?? 14-7 Illinois. Complete momentum switch. Terrible job Ron Zook.

3:04 PM — Seriously, that play could change the game…..EXCEPT FOR MIKEL LESHOURE!!!!!!

3:05 PM —So…with 5 minutes left in the first quarter….the Illini have 200 rushing yards.  Holy crap.  Jason Ford takes it in, 21-7 Illini.

3:07 PM — I’m not even sure what I’m watching here…Northwestern’s defense isn’t good, and we all knew that, but this is getting out of hand.

3:11 PM — Watkins’ first pick, only Illini touched the ball, and Ian Thomas came up with the pick…15 yard penalty tacked on, and Illini are inside the Mildcat redzone again…

3:13 PM — Touchdown Jason Ford but holding calls it back, and Ford can’t get off the field without help.  Looks like a lower left leg injury.

3:16 PM — Missed FG by Dimke on the new grass on the infield dirt between second and third. It looked like Dimke didn’t get a good plant on the new grass there.

3:18 PM — And Bob Trumpy (or whoever he is) goes 80 yards for a TD. Great job filling the gaps by the Illini. Yeesh.

3:21 PM — Great return by Troy Pollard to midfield, so it would appear the scoring isn’t going to stop…

3:22 PM — WOW…what a first quarter. 21-14 Illini. The eighth longest rush in Northwestern history…And I think Luke Donald just sang Take Me Out To the Ball Game. And got booed. To quote Jim Nantz, “What a moment.”

3:27 PM — Third and long for the Illini after a big sack, and they are in danger of giving up all the momentum and the lead…

3:31 PM — Lindsey Wilhite of the Daily Herald tries to open a window for us at the back but gets told not to…I appreciate the effort. We’d have thanked him back here but we all passed out 10 minutes ago…

3:33 PM — A little redemption for Dimke as he hits from 46 yards. Great kick, Illini lead 24-14.

3:35 PM — Illini put a stop to that Trumpy rush, and just what Fitz and the Cats DON’T want…third and long.

3:36 PM — No conversion, and the Illini will take over.

3:37 PM — Jack Ramsey attempted to screw up another punt this season…no fair catch with three defenders bearing down on him.  He holds on, Illini take over around their own 20 yard line.

3:40 PM — Mikel Leshoure carry and it doesn’t go for 50 yards…

3:41 PM — WOW…Scheel never saw the linebacker in coverage there…lucky that wasn’t a pick six…and then a broken play on the return as NU muffs the punt but turns it into a 60 yard gain.

3:44 PM — Third and long for the Wildcats…nice defense by the Illini to keep them out of the endzone. Terry Hawthorne sighting…

3:45 PM — Demos’ chip shot is good, and the Illini still lead by a touchdown, 24-17. The Illini defense and coverage teams are going to have to buckle down, as the offense is absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage, but still only lead by one score.

3:48 PM — Pardon my French, but Eddie McGee is fucking up all over this game.  Seriously.

3:49 PM — I really love Eddie’s dedication, and his strength, and the way he’s swallowed not being the QB. But if he can’t catch, quit putting him in at WR. There’s no point.

3:50 PM — I’d be upset about that Scheelhaase pass into double coverage that got picked off there, but it was the same as a punt. NU is gonna start on their own 25, long field to score, no huge thing. You want to convert there, sure, but given the last punt return, that’s not the worst result…

3:55 PM — First and goal NU as they attempt to tie. The Illinois secondary can’t stop a first time starting QB. And with 8 in the box, Bob Trumpy runs it in from four yards out untouched.  Oh.  Apparently it’s Mike Trumpy. Whatever. 24 all.

3:58 PM — Shockingly, a Zook coached team has choked away a big early lead. Illinois starts off first and ten inside their own ten thanks to a block in the back penalty. And Leshoure loses 4 on the first carry from scrimmage.  All in all, a great sequence for the Illini.

4:03 PM — Mikel Leshoure now with 205 yards rushing in the first half. INSANE. Little cramp from Leshoure, he’s ok. But my goodness. 208 yards, they are saying on the U now…

4:04 PM — Also, Illini driving in NU territory, trying to take the lead…

4:05 PM — Nice long play there that took 12 seconds…an older QB gets rid of the ball instead of running all that time off.

4:12 PM — After all kinds of time outs to ice the kicker, Dimke drills the 40 yarder to end the half and give the Illini a 27-24 lead at the half…then Scheelhaase points at Fitz and runs off the field. Dimke actually waited around to yell at the NU team as they ran by to the locker room…it would appear they were unappreciative of the attempts to ice the kicker.

Now…I will take a break.  Igotta cool down. WAYYYYYYYY cool down.  I’m soooo hot. Dying.  Water…

4:31 PM — We’re back, and I just realized that I have a giant tear in my pants.  Awesome.

4:32 PM — Careening towards the second half. Illinois kicks to NU. The Illini defense HAS to figure out a way to slow down the Wildcat attack (yes, they are Wildcats again…). I mean, I know it is an understatement…but still.

4:36 PM — Three and out for the Illini defense, and Jack Ramsey AGAIN didn’t fumble the ball on a punt. It’s a record breaking streak!!! Illini take over at their own 39.

 4:38 PM — Jason Ford back in the game, and a nice carry for a first down. Must have just popped the tape on his ankle.

4:39 PM — THE WHEEL ROUTE! First down Illini, only 10 yards this time. The streak of three straight TDs on that play ends…

4:42 PM — Ford picks up a first down but again is limps off the field…he is really becoming injury prone!  Troy “Bucket of Hair” Pollard with a run in place of him…

4:43 PM — Leshoure has a huge hole but it closes up…and the Illini are going for it???  Leshoure gets hit early and appears to get across the 15….but it is spotted right on the 15…

4:43 PM — BIG first down by the length of the football for the Illini!

4:45 PM — Jason Ford back in the game with a nice, nice carry….third and three or four here on the NU ten. BIG play…

4:46 PM — Scheel!!! To AJ Jenkins!! Touchdown ILLINI!  WAIT…it’s under review. I think he was in…but it is gonna be close…

4:50 PM — TD STANDS!  Scheel to Jenkins, Dimke the XP, and the Illini are back up by 10 points. 14 plays, 61 yards and over 7 minutes of clock run.  Just a HUGE drive…

4:55 PM — ANOTHER three and out for the Wildcats, and the offense is struggling for them in the second half. Illinois can really salt this game away with a little drive here.

4:59 PM — Tack on another 15 or 16 yards for Mikel…he’s still about 80 or so yards away from the all-time Illinois single-game rushing record held by Robert Holcombe. Also, Jason Ford doing his best Marshall Faulk impersonation…

5:04 PM — An uneventful Illinois drive stalls out near midfield, and they punt away. Santella puts a good foot on the ball, and gets it to drop in play with a ton of hang time, but it bounces into the dend zone. First and ten Wildcats from the 20.

5:07 PM — And we end the third quarter with the score 34-24, but with the Wildcats driving HARD…three plays and they are inside the Illinois 30 yard line. The big play was a 20+ yard Evan Watkins run where Martez Wilson kind of….falls down.

5:11 PM — BIG BIG BIG play Ian Thomas on first down, sniffing out the screen. Third and long now.

5:12 PM — TEZ! He makes up for falling down with a huge third down sack!

5:12 PM —Even more importantly, the Martez sack, his second of the game, knocks NU out of FG range…punt goes for a touchback, first and ten for the Illini at their own 20.

5:16 PM — Mikel Leshoure now getting close to the Illinois school record of 315…up to 302 yards rushing.

5:18 PM — Jason Ford TOUCHDOWN ILLINI!!! What a day at Wrigley! 41-24 Illini!

5:23 PM — I’m having to clean up my keyboard every time Mikel Leshoure touches the football, so I’m having some posting difficulties. Mikel Leshoure is having an unbelievable football game.

5:25 PM — Nice quick drive by Northwestern, but it’s 4th down and they are kicking the FG….will Leshoure get back in the game? They were working on him on the sidelines…

5:29 PM — OK…41-27 Illini…7:43 left. Bring me the rushing record Mikel Leshoure!

5:31 PM — HE’S GOT IT!!!! 17 yard carry!!! This is an unbelievable game!!!

5:34 PM — Illinois is just GASHING the Northwestern front seven. It isn’t just Leshoure, Ford is finding a ton of room too.

5:35 PM — For those of you that haven’t stopped reading….it is Meh-KEL LE-shore. Phoenetically speaking.

5:37 PM — Heading to the field guys, more after!

6:57 PM —Back from an ecstatic post-game presser for the Illini and a pragmatic Coach Fitz for Northwestern. The Ricketts family is playing a big ol’ pickup game of football on the field…Just an all around silly time here. Pretty amazing day, a history making day. I’d be psyched up about Leshoure’s record regardless, but factoring in the game at Wrigley, the atmosphere and everything else around it…just an amazing, amazing day. Not much else you can say other than that is there?

That’s it for this live blog and, most likely, my coverage of Illinois football this season.  I’ll be around with some features heading into their bowl game (ILLINOIS BOWL GAME!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????), but for the most part, that’s it.

It’s been a fun season here for me and I look forward to doing it again next season already. Til then….

Comments

  1. although it doesn’t apply SIDEWINDER SIDEWINDER!

  2. Wow Persa really makes a difference. your prediction is looking much better than mine

  3. wow this game is turning into “thank you sir may I have another” type of paddling until that. I say Eddie Mcgee should not be allowed to do anything at all eevr again. ever. yes i said ever twice

  4. MCNUTT! BUCKNUTS!

  5. WOW…I predicted 35-24 up at the top…can Illinois put that up in the first quarter???

  6. Deep breath, everyone…that’s just one quarter…

  7. wowwwwwww. texas bowl! dallas football classic!

    yeah it is hot in here..im falling alseep

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