It was a very strange game - NU out rushed [156 - 123] and out passed [184 - 149] but wound up tied at the end of the game because the Illinois kicker missed the game winner to the left left.After the game, WGN's Ted Albrecht talked with Randy Walker asking - there's a lot ways to win a football game...:
One big difference was in penalties - for some reason NU could do nothing right in the game - 11 flags cost the Cats 113 yards.
But it didn't matter. Jonathan Fields [7 catches for 55 yds], after dropping a couple of key passes during the end game, came up big with a 7 yard catch in the end zone to put the Cats ahead in overtime. Joel Howells PAT put the Cats up 28-21 and in a position to keep the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk for another year.
Then it was up to the defense. Nick Roach had 15 total tackles in the game, beating out Tim McGarigle's 14 tackle effort, but Tim McG had 12 solos continuing his run. 4 defenders had sacks - Loren Howard had 2, Nick Roach one, and Barry Cofield all trapped Illinois QB Chris Pazan. The key was that they stuffed Illinois after the TD and the Cats stayed eligible for a bowl.
Well, we find a way to win.What about Jeff Backes' [73 yard- 4th quarter] TD return?
Again there were a lot of things that went on out there but we kept battling and our kids learned that if you stay in there and you hang in there, you play one play at a time, and most importantly, you find a way to make a play within the framework of what we do.
We didn't have to go to any trickery, or anything lie that. We kinda kept playing, there's a lot of football every game and these kids have learned that.
Now, first I want to give a lot of credit to Illinois. I think they had a great plan. I think the week off before us really helped them, and they really came in and they really got after it. They had some good things against us, and they did a great job, I think with coaching their program and getting their kids in the right place.
It took us a little time to get going, but fortunately we made the plays we had to.
Lets give credit too to 10 other guys.NU came up big on 3rd down defensive plays - finally the defense held up...
It was a basic return, we run it all year. We had guys get Hats on Hats and he did a great job of catching it and running north, and once he got a crease, we all know Jeff can run.
He's got some wheels and of course its great to get him back, we've been missing him.
And so we had 10 guys, obviously I didn't see the play, but I know there's some guys making some blocks big time, to open a crease and he beats the kicker and we're out the gate.
Again, I thought they did a great job, speaking of IllinoisToday's game is the first time any team has played 4 overitme games in a season
I thought they had a great plan [on] both sides of the ball where they really did some good things against us, and their kids played hard, as they have all reay.
And obviously that open date ahead of our game helped, and .they were fresh and frisky and they were coming after us and playing us and playing down hill, [but] again I give a lot of credit to Illinois. But again we hung in here and made a lot of plays when we had to.
Yeah, I thinkl we knew we had do.I'm not sure that's a record but we won it.It makes that trip to Hawaii that much better...
To win 3 of them? and to find a way to win those 3, that's pretty good. Obviously, I'm awful proud of our kids and again I can't say enough on how they battle we do have an edge in overtime, I guess because we know how to play and so
But again we, got great endurance, our kids went hard against Michigan last week, a very physical game, we limped through most of last week in preparation, and again to come out here and play with some heart and courage and perserverance, I'm really proud of the way we played.
I've just challenged our kids in the locker room now -In the for what its worth department:
This is going to be a difficult week and we have to do a great job with our preparation. We have to do a great job eliminating distractions because its going to be - its not a typical, ordinary, lets get in the plane and go play.
So I remind them its our bowl game. Its our 12th game, we need to win it and we know what we have to do.
- Michigan State lost today - they are no longer Bowl Eligible
- Michigan lost to Ohio State - Everyone in the Big 10 now has at least one loss in both the league and overall.
- No matter who wins the Iowa-Wisconsin game, the Cats are in 4th place in the Big 10 - In line for a decent bowl if we win next week.
the WGN Post Game Show
with Dave Eanet & Ted Albrecht
and may have been edited for clarity
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