The Big Ten West champions are back in action against Illinois after a week off, and they’re eager to get back in the win column. College Football Playoff hopes are gone following the loss to Michigan State, but NU (5-1) still has plenty to play for, but of concern most immediately is retaining the Land of Lincoln Trophy, or the HAT for the fifth straight year.
Lovie Smith’s Illini are an inconsistent 2-4. After starting the season 0-3 and looking dead in the water, several key players including starting quarterback Brandon Peters returned from COVID-19 protocol, and U of I is 2-1 in its last three games. It led No. 16 Iowa 14-0 late in the first half before the Hawkeyes took over and won 35-21.
Location: Ryan Field (Evanston, Illinois)
Game Time: 11 a.m. CT
Radio: WGN Radio AM-720, WNUR Sports 89.3 FM
SP+ Projection: 30-17 Northwestern (77% chance of a Northwestern win)