Drive Chart
ILL
NWEST

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Thorson helps No. 20 Northwestern beats Illinois 24-16

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) With nothing really to play for, and with the Big Ten championship game looming next weekend, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald decided to pull many of his starters in the second half Saturday against rival Illinois.

Fitzgerald stuck with the plan in spite of unexpected tense moments down the stretch.

Clayton Thorson accounted for three touchdowns, Isaiah Browser rushed for 166 yards on 18 carries and No. 20 Northwestern beat Illinois 24-16 for its seventh straight Big Ten win.

Thorson completed 12 of 18 passes for 110 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a score, and Bowser posted his fourth 100-yard game of the season.

Neither was on the field as the game tightened late.

''You should have heard the headphones,'' Fitzgerald said of the communication with coordinators Mick McCall and Mike Hankwitz. ''`Hey, I want ...' No. `Hey, can I have ...' No. `But what about ...' No.

''Sorry, I apologize to Mick and Hank. But to win our rivalry game with the amount of guys we had out - and what I didn't allow our coordinators to do - was awesome by our guys.''

The Wildcats (8-4, 8-1, No. 19 in CFP) will face No. 10 Ohio State in the championship game in Indianapolis.

''We've got an unbelievable opportunity in front of us,'' Fitzgerald said. ''I'm fired up to take the Purple to Indy. That's our goal every year, to win the Big Ten West. We've finally gotten over that hump, and now we have an opportunity, a 60-minute opportunity, to take this team to the Rose Bowl.''

Illinois (4-8, 2-7) lost for the sixth time in seven games. AJ Bush Jr. completed 23 of 39 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown, and Ricky Smalling finished with seven receptions for 72 yards and a TD.

''Our guys fought hard from start to finish,'' Illini coach Lovie Smith said. ''We left a lot of plays out there would like to have over, but the guys competed.

''We know we need to improve on a lot of things. But I like the way the guys came to work each day.''

Northwestern retained the Land of Lincoln Trophy with its fourth straight win in the series, tying its longest winning streak.

''Beating our rival every year has been awesome,'' said Thorson, who started all four games.

With Illinois driving for a potential tying score, linebacker Paddy Fisher intercepted a Bush pass at the Northwestern 8-yard line with 3:34 remaining. The Wildcats, with TJ Green at quarterback and backups at running back, then ran out the clock.

The Illini have dropped 23 straight and 32 of 33 against teams ranked in the AP poll since beating No. 1 Ohio State in 2007.

Illinois moved the ball effectively - particularly through the air - in the first half, but only managed a pair of Chase McLaughlin field goals.

Northwestern was leading 7-6 when it scored on its final two possessions of the first half.

Thorson capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak. The Wildcats got the ball back with 1:47 left, and Thorson found Riley Lees for a 5-yard TD pass.

Jake Collins added a 25-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half to make it 24-6.

FINISHING STRONG

Although the West Division title was clinched two weeks ago at Iowa, Thorson said the last two games were far from meaningless. ''We never wanted to let off the gas,'' he said. ''We never wanted to back into the Big Ten championship game.''

NO CHANCE

Fitzgerald was asked if there was a chance Thorson might re-enter the game if Illinois had tied it. ''One hundred percent, no,'' he said. ''One million percent, no. Infinity, no.''

THE TAKEAWAY

Illinois: The Illini are one of the youngest teams in college football, and they played like it. They had explosive plays throughout, but had to mostly settle for field goals because of mistakes at the wrong time. Smalling is elusive and routinely broke free in the secondary. But he struggled to catch the ball and had nearly as many drops as receptions.

Northwestern: Despite saying they wouldn't overlook Illinois because it was a rivalry game, the Wildcats clearly didn't have the same fire as in previous weeks. Bowser was shut down in the third quarter and Thorson was replaced by Green early in the fourth.

''I felt like we could win with the personnel we had in the game,'' Fitzgerald said.

UP NEXT

Illinois: Hosts Akron in the 2019 season opener on Aug. 31.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have dropped six straight against Ohio State and have beaten the Buckeyes just once since 1972.

---

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Scoring Summary
4th Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 7:57
43-C.McLaughlin extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
16
24
Touchdown 8:03
1-A.Bush complete to 4-R.Smalling. 4-R.Smalling runs 10 yards for a touchdown.
9
plays
91
yds
02:46
pos
15
24
Field Goal 14:15
43-C.McLaughlin 26 yards Field Goal is Good.
17
plays
111
yds
04:40
pos
9
24
3rd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 10:00
49-J.Collins 25 yards Field Goal is Good.
12
plays
68
yds
4:13
pos
6
24
2nd Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Point After TD 0:17
49-J.Collins extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
6
21
Touchdown 0:20
18-C.Thorson complete to 19-R.Lees. 19-R.Lees runs 5 yards for a touchdown.
9
plays
80
yds
1:36
pos
6
20
Point After TD 3:43
49-J.Collins extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
6
14
Touchdown 3:47
18-C.Thorson runs 1 yard for a touchdown.
12
plays
65
yds
04:49
pos
6
13
Field Goal 8:36
43-C.McLaughlin 29 yards Field Goal is Good.
13
plays
49
yds
4:23
pos
6
7
1st Quarter
No scoring this quarter
Field Goal 0:36
43-C.McLaughlin 21 yards Field Goal is Good.
15
plays
85
yds
5:11
pos
3
7
Point After TD 5:53
49-J.Collins extra point is good.
plays
yds
pos
0
7
Touchdown 5:59
18-C.Thorson complete to 88-B.Skowronek. 88-B.Skowronek runs 8 yards for a touchdown.
9
plays
92
yds
03:31
pos
0
6
Team Stats
1st Downs 24 19
Rushing 9 12
Passing 14 6
Penalty 1 1
3rd Down Conv 7-15 8-13
4th Down Conv 2-2 0-0
Total Net Yards 435 360
Total Plays 71 64
Avg Gain 6.1 5.6
Net Yards Rushing 149 261
Rush Attempts 32 46
Avg Rush Yards 4.7 5.7
Net Yards Passing 286 99
Comp. - Att. 23-39 12-18
Yards Per Pass 7.3 5.5
Sacked - Yards Lost 0-0 1-11
Penalties - Yards 7-66 1-15
Touchdowns 1 3
Rushing TDs 0 1
Passing TDs 1 2
Other 0 0
Turnovers 1 0
Fumbles - Lost 0-0 0-0
Int. Thrown 1 0
Punts - Avg 3-41.0 4-45.8
Return Yards 85 45
Punts - Returns 0-0 1-7
Kickoffs - Returns 5-85 1-26
Int. - Returns 0-0 1-12
Kicking 4/4 4/4
Extra Points 1/1 3/3
Field Goals 3/3 1/1
Safeties 0 0
1234T
Illinois 4-8 3301016
19 Northwestern 8-4 7143024
286 PASS YDS 99
149 RUSH YDS 261
435 TOTAL YDS 360
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
A. Bush 1 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
59% 286 1 1 123.9
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
53.9% 1418 6 10 108.7
A. Bush 23/39 286 1 1
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
R. Corbin 2 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
13 78 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
128 1085 9
R. Corbin 13 78 0 24
A. Bush 1 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
16 51 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
138 728 8
A. Bush 16 51 0 9
R. Bonner 21 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 20 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
72 395 3
R. Bonner 3 20 0 14
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
R. Smalling 4 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
7 77 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
33 411 5
R. Smalling 7 77 1 18
S. Mays 9 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 69 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
29 331 0
S. Mays 4 69 0 28
D. Stampley 6 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 69 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
19 311 2
D. Stampley 4 69 0 28
C. Reams 13 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 46 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 58 0
C. Reams 3 46 0 21
R. Corbin 2 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
4 22 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
16 176 0
R. Corbin 4 22 0 8
T. Davis 15 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 3 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
30 278 0
T. Davis 1 3 0 3
Defense T-A SACK INT
M. Marchese 42 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
9-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
9-2 1 0.0
M. Marchese 9-2 0.0 0
S. Green 7 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
8-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
8-4 1 0.0
S. Green 8-4 0.0 0
D. Harding 9 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-2 0 0.0
D. Harding 5-2 0.0 0
B. Roundtree 97 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-1 0 0.0
B. Roundtree 5-1 0.0 0
T. Adams 6 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 1 0.0
T. Adams 5-0 0.0 0
J. Hansen 35 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-4 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-4 0 0.0
J. Hansen 4-4 0.0 0
D. Phillips 3 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-3 4 0.0
D. Phillips 4-3 0.0 0
D. Ware 15 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 1.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 1 1.0
D. Ware 3-1 1.0 0
N. Hobbs 8 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 1 0.0
N. Hobbs 3-0 0.0 0
D. DeGroot 24 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-0 0 0.0
D. DeGroot 3-0 0.0 0
D. Pate 98 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
D. Pate 1-0 0.0 0
J. Milan 55 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
J. Milan 1-0 0.0 0
C. Avery 93 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-2 0 0.0
C. Avery 1-2 0.0 0
K. Smith 17 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
K. Smith 1-0 0.0 0
D. Wyatt 22 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
D. Wyatt 1-0 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
C. McLaughlin 43 K
IN-GAME FG XP
3/3 1/1
SEASON FG XP
20/25 36/36
C. McLaughlin 3/3 29 1/1 10
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
B. Hayes 14 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
3 41.0 1
SEASON NO AVG IN20
62 43.6 1
B. Hayes 3 41.0 1 48
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
C. Sandy 11 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
3 17.0 20 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
13 17.8 20 0
C. Sandy 3 17.0 20 0
M. Dudek 18 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 15.0 15 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
1 15.0 15 0
M. Dudek 1 15.0 15 0
C. Bobak 29 DB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 15.0 15 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
4 8.3 15 0
C. Bobak 1 15.0 15 0
D. Brown 25 RB
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 19.0 19 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
15 22.0 19 0
D. Brown 1 19.0 19 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
Passing CP/ATT YDS TD INT
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
70.6% 110 2 0 163.8
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
60.5% 2675 14 12 120.0
C. Thorson 12/17 110 2 0
T. Green 10 QB
IN-GAME COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
0% 0 0 0 0.0
SEASON COMP% YDS TD INT RTG
55.6% 169 0 1 89.4
T. Green 0/1 0 0 0
Rushing ATT YDS TD LG
I. Bowser 25 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
18 166 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
161 736 6
I. Bowser 18 166 0 55
C. Hanaoka 1 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
8 48 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
21 119 0
C. Hanaoka 8 48 0 14
J. Moten IV 20 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
8 47 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
40 127 2
J. Moten IV 8 47 0 29
S. Vault 4 RB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
5 7 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
44 69 0
S. Vault 5 7 0 4
T. Green 10 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 2 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
10 14 1
T. Green 1 2 0 2
C. Thorson 18 QB
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
3 -2 1
SEASON ATT YDS TD
67 -101 8
C. Thorson 3 -2 1 8
J. Roberts 6 WR
IN-GAME ATT YDS TD
1 -3 0
SEASON ATT YDS TD
1 -3 0
J. Roberts 1 -3 0 -3
Receiving REC YDS TD LG
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
3 25 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
19 198 2
R. Lees 3 25 1 11
R. Chiaokhiao-Bowman 81 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 25 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
18 173 0
R. Chiaokhiao-Bowman 1 25 0 25
C. Fessler 5 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 15 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
7 68 0
C. Fessler 1 15 0 15
I. Bowser 25 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 14 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
5 53 0
I. Bowser 1 14 0 14
K. McGowan 8 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
8 188 2
K. McGowan 1 9 0 9
C. Green 84 TE
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 9 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
46 411 3
C. Green 1 9 0 9
B. Skowronek 88 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 8 1
SEASON REC YDS TD
40 514 3
B. Skowronek 1 8 1 8
C. Hanaoka 1 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 8 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
10 53 0
C. Hanaoka 1 8 0 8
B. Holman 16 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 4 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
4 28 0
B. Holman 1 4 0 4
S. Vault 4 RB
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
0 0 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
7 10 0
S. Vault 0 0 0 0
J. Jefferson 12 WR
IN-GAME REC YDS TD
1 -7 0
SEASON REC YDS TD
10 181 2
J. Jefferson 1 -7 0 -7
Defense T-A SACK INT
B. Gallagher 51 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
10-3 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
10-3 0 0.0
B. Gallagher 10-3 0.0 0
A. Mayo 10 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
7-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
7-0 0 0.0
A. Mayo 7-0 0.0 0
J. Pace 13 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
6-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
6-0 3 0.0
J. Pace 6-0 0.0 0
C. Ruiz 18 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
5-0 0 0.0
C. Ruiz 5-0 0.0 0
S. Miller 91 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
4-0 0 0.0
S. Miller 4-0 0.0 0
P. Fisher 42 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 1 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 1 0.0
P. Fisher 3-1 0.0 1
T. Whillock 7 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
T. Whillock 3-1 0.0 0
C. Bergin 28 LB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
3-1 0 0.0
C. Bergin 3-1 0.0 0
F. Wyatt 92 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-1 0 0.0
F. Wyatt 2-1 0.0 0
E. Brown IV 98 DE
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
E. Brown IV 2-0 0.0 0
A. Hampton 11 DB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
2-0 0 0.0
A. Hampton 2-0 0.0 0
T. Goens 83 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
T. Goens 1-0 0.0 0
T. Green 10 QB
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
1-0 0 0.0
T. Green 1-0 0.0 0
A. Miller 95 DL
IN-GAME T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
SEASON T-A INT SACK
0-1 0 0.0
A. Miller 0-1 0.0 0
Kicking FG LG XP PTS
J. Collins 49 P
IN-GAME FG XP
1/1 3/3
SEASON FG XP
2/3 5/5
J. Collins 1/1 25 3/3 6
Punting NO AVG IN20 LG
J. Collins 49 P
IN-GAME NO AVG IN20
4 45.8 2
SEASON NO AVG IN20
65 40.7 2
J. Collins 4 45.8 2 47
Kickoff Returns NO AVG LG TD
K. McGowan 8 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 26.0 26 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
13 24.1 26 0
K. McGowan 1 26.0 26 0
Punt Returns NO AVG LG TD
R. Lees 19 WR
IN-GAME NO AVG LG TD
1 7.0 7 0
SEASON NO AVG LG TD
19 5.6 7 0
R. Lees 1 7.0 7 0
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
15:00 NWEST 35 5:05 12 34 Punt
5:53 NWEST 35 5:11 15 85 FG
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:40 ILL 40 4:23 12 49 FG
3:43 NWEST 35 1:45 6 13 Punt
0:17 NWEST 35 0:00 2 -7 Halftime
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:00 NWEST 35 0:40 4 -3 Punt
5:09 ILL 12 4:40 17 80 FG
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
10:49 ILL 19 2:46 9 81 TD
6:12 ILL 25 1:50 6 -5 INT
1st POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
9:30 NWEST 8 3:31 9 92 TD
0:36 ILL 35 0:04 4 -22 Punt
2nd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
8:36 ILL 35 4:49 12 65 TD
1:56 NWEST 20 1:07 9 80 TD
3rd POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
0:11 ILL 35 0:00 12 58 FG
9:11 NWEST 20 3:57 8 25 Punt
4th POSS PLAYS YDS RESULT
13:27 ILL 35 1:54 4 -1 Punt
7:57 ILL 35 1:38 4 -6 Punt
3:44 NWEST 20 2:34 8 47