Bowl eligibility and the Land of Lincoln Trophy is on the line for the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday as they take the field for their final regular season game against Illinois at Ryan Field. 5-6 on the year, Northwestern needs a win to clinch bowl eligibility, while the Illini are looking to play the role of the spoiler, and take the HAT back to Champaign. WNUR Sports will have the call of the matchup, starting with the pregame show at 10:00 CST followed by the opening kick at 11:00.

Here’s how our broadcasters think the ‘Cats will fare against Illinois:

Sam Brief (@sambrief): Northwestern 35, Illinois 13

Northwestern’s offense has struggled at home this year, but it gets back on track after a brutal game in Minneapolis. Wildcats win easily and cruise to a bowl game.

Player to Watch: Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern. I use Carr way too much for this. But as a Biletnikoff finalist, this is his last chance to impress voters.

Ari Ross (@aross50): Northwestern 24, Illinois 9

Two years ago, Northwestern was in the same situation – 5-6 and needing a win against Illinois to clinch bowl eligibility – and the ‘Cats lost. But Northwestern was without Trevor Siemian, Kyle Prater and multiple starters on defense, while this Wildcat team come into their final regular season game relatively healthy. Illinois’ defense might be able to keep the game closeish, but the offense is not nearly good enough to pull off the upset.

Player to Watch: Anthony Walker Jr., LB, Northwestern. Should Walker Jr. decide to go pro, a possibility considering he’s a projected second to third round pick, Saturday would be his last game at Ryan Field, so expect a big performance from the junior linebacker.

Adam Braunstein (@braunstein_adam) Northwestern 21, Illinois 10

The ‘Cats defense will have no problem slowing down their final opponent of the season, carrying the team to a 2016 Bowl Game.

Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel, WR, Northwestern. With the status of Austin Carr up in the air, expect Nagel to step up and have a big game.

Amit Mallik (@amitkmallik): Northwestern 24, Illinois 19

The ‘Cats grind out a tough end-of-season victory behind a dominant run game, and a defense up to the task.

Player to Watch: Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern. With one game to play in the regular season and the Biletnikoff in reach, Carr should explode against a mediocre Illinois defense. Hat.

Will Greer (@willy_nillie): Northwestern 31, Illinois 16

Northwestern’s offense is one of the most effective in the nation against less-than-great defenses. Illinois has a less-than-great defense.

Player to Watch: Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern. In what should be a lopsided game, I’ll be watching for a meaningful storyline Saturday. A big day from Austin Carr in his final game at Ryan Field would be pretty special to see.

Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23): Northwestern 28, Illinois 23

The Illini come to play, but the ‘Cats prevail and clinch a second straight bowl berth.

Player to Watch: Carroll Phillips, DL, Illinois. Phillips leads the Big Ten with 17 tackles for loss and ranks second in the conference with eight sacks. Northwestern struggled to get positive plays on early downs last weekend against Minnesota, and the ‘Cats need to contain Phillips on Saturday to achieve better early-down results.

Austin Miller (@austin_james906): Northwestern: 49 Illinois: 0

Gib Hat.

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