The WNUR Sports staffers offer their picks for this Saturday’s match-up by previewing their predictions of the victor, the final score and a player to watch as the Northwestern University Wildcats take on the University of Illinois Fighting Illini.
Jim Sannes (@JimSannes): Northwestern 31, Illinois 13. If Northwestern doesn’t win this game by 15+ points, I will be incredibly sad. Illinois’ offense is not only the worst in the Big Ten, but it is one of the worst in the nation. With Northwestern coming off of arguably their best game of the season, I look for the ‘Cats to take this one easily. Player to Watch: Ibraheim Campbell.
Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger): Northwestern 28, Illinois 14. This woeful season for Illinois will end on a bitter note, as they will lose possession of the Land of Lincoln trophy (#LOLHat). The player to watch is Ibraheim Campbell, who will anchor a Northwestern defense that has improved over the course of the season.
Greg Mroz (@TheeMrClean): Northwestern wins 31-3. Illinois is terrible, and they will reach double digit losses this weekend. Don’t expect Venric Mark to see much action, because risking him to another injury could prove costly, and they will not need him to win this game. Player to Watch: Mike Trumpy.
Tralon Williams (@TralonWilliams): 38-0 Northwestern. This is a great chance for Northwestern to make a statement coming one of their best defensive performances of the season. Pitching a shut out will be a fitting end to the regular season that will always be known as the “what if?” Season. Player to Watch: David Nwabusi. Last game at Ryan Field. The senior will want it to be memorable.
Tara McManus (@taramcmanus): 35-20 Northwestern. Siemian took over against the Spartans. Look for the option game to be back in full swing and score in bunches on the struggling Illinois defense. Player to Watch: Kain Colter.
Cameron Albert-Deitch (@c_albertdeitch): Northwestern, 35-21. The Cardiac ‘Cats have taken it down to the wire in both of their last two games, but Illinois is 0-7 in the Big Ten this year (2-9 overall) and Northwestern is no pushover. An emotional Illinois team could make the game closer than Northwestern fans would like – first-year Illini coach Tim Beckman has emphasized the Northwestern game since his arrival – but it does seem rather unlikely. Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian.
Brandon Wilson (@bwmedill): 33-16, Northwestern. NU will barrel ahead early, and the game pace will slow late in the second half. Illinois should get some points in garbage time. Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian–If he gets at least half the snaps, I see him dicing up this Illinois secondary for at least 2 TD.
Nick Scoliard: Northwestern 38-14. Illinois has yet to beat a Big Ten opponent, averaging only 11.4 points per game in Big Ten play, and I don’t see that changing now. Even after the mediocre performance against the Spartans, the Wildcats will have an easy game, and it should be a blowout. Watch for Siemian to come in with the ailing Mark and Colter to get some extra reps before the end of the season. Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian.
Kevin Harris (@kevharris711): 45-17 Northwestern. The Illini haven’t won a game in the Big Ten this year and I don’t expect them to suddenly get their first one in the on the road against a strong NU team in the last game of the season. I hope Fitz and the Cats use this game to experiment with some new play calls and personnel prior to their bowl game. The key to the game is to remain healthy and win comfortably. Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian.