#22 Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats: Brutally Honest Game Preview

Big Ten conference play begins with the annual in-state rivalry game between the Northwestern Wildcats and Illinois Fighting Illini. It does feel a little weird not having this game played on the last week of the season, when all the other intrastate, intra-region bloodfeud games are held.  But last year it was such a special event that it’s hard not to get excited for the 2011 edition.

Remember last year? The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs hosted the Wrigleyville Classic, with ESPN Gameday and Erin Andrews visiting Chicago. And of course, the goofy everyone going the same way on offense because of the short-sighted brain-dead planning in regards to the end zone barrier less than six inches from the wall. That didn’t make anyone here look good.

One guy who did look good was Mikel Leshoure who broke the Illini single game rushing record. Illinois relied on a powerful rushing attack—totaling 519 yards on the ground—to turn a 27-24 halftime deficit into a 48-27 win over NU. The Wildcats were playing for the first time without quarterback Dan Persa, who injured his Achilles tendon the week prior against Iowa.

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Michigan State-Illinois: Brutally Honest Game Preview

sparty

Ah there’s nothing quite like it when your alma mater takes on your MBA school. It happens every year, the conflicted feelings and ambivalence…OR NOT! When your grad school and undergrad clash, you ALWAYS go with the institution that awarded you your primary degree. And with apologies to the first Kanye West album, “you know what will keep me warm this winter- all those degrees.” 

For two “basketball schools,” the IllinoisMichigan State contest should be a very good one, and among the best contests on the Big Ten slate this Saturday. This marks the 44th meeting between the Fighting Illini and the Spartans and the first at Spartan Stadium since 2006. Michigan State holds a 24-17-2 overall series advantage and leads 12-8-1 when playing in East Lansing. Last season, the Spartans won 24-14 in Champaign after the series took a two-year hiatus in 2007 and ’08.

By Paul M. Banks

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