Northwestern will play the most important game of its season without Trevor Siemian, who is sidelined for Saturday's season finale against Illinois with a torn ACL, according to head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Junior Zack Oliver will start in his place.
Siemian suffered the injury on a quarterback sneak in the second quarter of Northwestern's 38-14 win over Purdue on Saturday.
"My heart's broken for Trevor," Fitzgerald said. "He's really disappointed. Trevor will be a great teammate throughout the week. He'll be upbeat and positive and terrific for Zack and Matt."
Oliver completed 5 of 11 passes for 85 yards and ran for a score after Siemian went down. The redshirt junior will make his first career start against the Fighting Illini.
Redshirt freshman Matt Alviti also got some snaps at the quarterback position following Siemian's injury. More of a rushing threat, Alviti threw the ball just once for three yards.
Fitzgerald didn't rule out the possibility of employing a two-quarterback system similar to the one Siemian and Kain Colter ran last year.
Northwestern needs to beat Illinois to become bowl eligible.
Siemian finished his college career with 5,931 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. Fitzgerald hopes Siemian can rebound from the injury and still play professionally.
"Without question he's a pro prospect," Fitzgerald said.
Northwestern has had bad luck with quarterbacks at the end of their careers, leading to this sad, but crazy, anecdote.
Oddly, Siemian is the third straight NU QB to end his career injured, after Persa and Colter.— Alex Putterman (@AlexPutt02) November 24, 2014