#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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Northwestern vs. Illinois State: the Brutally Honest Game Preview

GO-CATS!

GO CATS!

Last weekend, I drove to both Ohio State and Notre Dame to cover their openers. Therefore, the Indiana Toll Road and I became quite familiar with one another. This weekend I’m home; back in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, a placed described by Baseball Prospectus writer Christina Kahrl, in her latest Cubs piece as…there are still enough trust funders knocking around Lakeview, the Corn Belt’s Riviera, to keep their sozzled watch with semi-indifference.

Uh-oh! trust fund babies afoot! And I have to go up Lake Shore Drive to an elite, private University to take in the Northwestern Wildcats home opener! I better a bring a gun to protect myself from the two comma kids (yes, I did make a “Finding Forrester” reference)

Hopefully, I’ll survive the 25 minute trek to NU so we can discuss the game.

Chicago’s official Air and Water Show may have been last month, but I expect airspace over Evanston’s Ryan Field Saturday to be busier than the final approach corridor of O’Hare International Airport. Why? Read on…..

By Paul M. Banks

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