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HAT Predictions

Here’s how our writers see Northwestern’s final game of the season going down.

Northwestern v Illinois Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Northwestern is 2-9, and a lowly 0-8 in Big Ten play. Illinois, on the other hand, after a resurgent second half of the season, is 6-5 (4-4), and favored by a touchdown-plus at home.

But the Fighting Illini haven’t earned the LOLHAT (the Land of Lincoln trophy, pictured above, you get for winning this rivalry game, in case you are new here) since 2014, before the beginning of Lovie Smith’s tenure. Do our writers see Illinois getting some revenge on Northwestern in Champaign-Urbana? Or will the Wildcats finally rise up and take advantage of their last shot at a Big Ten win this season?

Find out what our writers think:

Joe Weinberg: Northwestern 19, Illinois 16

Seeing Andrew Marty wear the hat as Northwestern finishes 3-9 will be a moment that goes down in NU history.

Noah Coffman: Northwestern 16, Illinois 15

Is this a ridiculous pick? Absolutely. But there is something about Rivalry Week that makes the unlikely appear mundane. Andrew Marty does just enough offensively for a defensive resurgence to keep things close, and for the first time all season, the Wildcats out-execute their opponents down the stretch in a conference game. Most importantly: the HAT returns to Evanston.

Daniel Olinger: Illinois 20, Northwestern 7

The injury to Illinois’s starting quarterback Brandon Peters and the pseudo-resurgence of competent offense once Andrew Marty came in for the ‘Cats might actually give NU a fighting chance against their rivals. But to pick this team to win Big Ten games is folly. Illinois secures their first winning season since 2011, and Northwestern its worst season by win percentage since 1989.

Avery Zimmerman: Northwestern 20, Illinois 17

Matthew Albert: Northwestern 24, Illinois 21


Colin Kruse: Illinois 28, Northwestern 24

Noah and I are currently tied in the Inside NU season predictions for this season. Because this is a zero-sum game and I'm assuming there's a prize of some sorts for winning (or should be, tbh), I’m going all in and picking the opposite of our fearless editor-in-chief. Andrew Marty has a solid day behind center, but the ‘Cats ultimately come up short as the Illini defense makes some big plays toward the end. HAT returns to Champaign for the first time since 2014.

Ed. note: Obviously, there is not actually a prize for winning this competition.

Claire Kuwana: Illinois 17, Northwestern 7

The team leading the nation in forced turnovers will swarm Andrew Marty and the Northwestern offense, and Illinois will take home the HAT for the first time since 2014.

Mac Stone: Northwestern HAT, Illinois No HAT

Jacob Brown: Illinois: 28, Northwestern 13

Inside NU Prediction Standings

Noah Coffman: 9-2

Colin Kruse: 9-2

Joe Weinberg: 8-3

Avery Zimmerman: 8-3

Jacob Brown: 7-1

William Karmin: 7-3

Daniel Olinger: 6-0

Eli Karp: 6-5

Mac Stone: 5-1

Lia Assimakopoulos: 5-3

Claire Kuwana: 4-0

Ryley Hougland: 3-3

Matt Albert: 3-7

Yunisk Jeong: 1-0

Henry Ward: 1-0

Caleb Friedman: 1-0

Lucio Vainesman: 1-0

Graham Brennan: 0-1