Well everybody, one thrilling win in the Eastern Hemisphere and 10 demoralizing losses later, HAT day is finally here. Here’s what our staff is predicting heading into the ‘Cats’ Senior Day showdown with the Illini.
Gavin Dorsey: Illinois 34, Northwestern 6
Two words: Chase Brown. The Wildcats are just half a yard shy of the worst run defense in the Big Ten, averaging a clip of 194.5 yards a game on the ground, and facing the nation’s leading rusher Saturday may be the nail in the coffin for the conference’s bottom-feeder. Combine that with a third/fourth-string quarterback for Northwestern and a ticked off Illinois team from last week’s close loss to Michigan, and you have the exact recipe for a 1-11 finish.
Bradley Locker: Illinois 41, Northwestern 14
Illinois romped all over a lifeless Northwestern team last year, and I really don’t think anything has changed. Can a Cole Freeman-led offense keep pace with Chase Brown and Tommy Devito while facing one of the nation’s most formidable defenses? A loss like this would emphasize not just the starkly abominable season Northwestern has put together, but also the dire state of the program — one that could see legitimate change in the coming days.
Iggy Dowling: Illinois 31, Northwestern 6
Winter cannot come soon enough in Evanston. Did I really just write that?
John Olsen: Illinois 56, Northwestern 0
Pat Fitzgerald has never overcome Bret Bielema to win the Land of Lincoln trophy, and that will not change after the conclusion of 2022’s iteration of this “rivalry.” #FitzgeraldFacts
Daniel Olinger: Illinois 16, Northwestern 10
Here at what will also be my final home game in Evanston, I’m predicting a final score akin to my academic performance over the past four years — yeah it’s not what you want, but it could have been a lot worse.
Leo Tesler: Illinois 30, Northwestern 3
Illinois hasn’t been an offensive force this season, but a team that came so close to beating undefeated Michigan last week is destined to do unspeakable things to a cellar-dwelling Northwestern defense.
Brendan Preisman: Illinois 35, Northwestern 3
Illinois has Chase Brown, the man currently leading the FBS in rushing yards with 1,582. Northwestern has a rush defense that is 116th in the country and has given up 2140 yards on the year. This will get ugly quickly and stay ugly the rest of the way.
Zain Bando: Illinois 24, Northwestern 8
Northwestern has a chance to play spoiler this week, given the results of Friday’s Iowa-Nebraska game in Iowa City. However, it simply won’t happen. The talent level on both sides is incomparable and if it’s anything like last year’s 47-14 drubbing, expect the Illini to come out firing on offense, especially the nation’s leading rusher in Chase Brown, who has been playing like a man on a mission with something to prove the entire season. Not to mention the fact that unlike previous years, Illinois is no longer the doormat of the Big Ten and will look for its eight win to cap off the best regular season since 2007…and maybe a spot in Indianapolis.
For Northwestern, this season was a ““what could have been,” along with a myriad of injuries. Those weaknesses show come Saturday.
Jason Boue: Illinois 38, Northwestern 14
Northwestern is going to have a very cold head this winter without a hat...
Patrick Winograd: Illinois 31, Northwestern 10
Northwestern’s run defense is not good enough to stop Chase Brown and the Fighting Illini on Saturday. Unfortunately, I think the ‘Cats will have a very disappointing end to a disappointing season.
Ethan Segall: Illinois 20, Northwestern 7
If Purdue somehow loses to Indiana, this game becomes topical again. Otherwise, it’s mostly a formality. On to 2023.