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Northwestern Football: 3 Takeaways from Wildcats win over Illinois

The Northwestern football team defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 28-10 on a soggy Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois to take the Land of Lincoln trophy f...
The Northwestern football team defeated the Illinois Fighting Illini 28-10 on a soggy Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois to take the Land of Lincoln trophy for the fifth straight year. 

In a game reminiscent of old school Big Ten football, Northwestern football and Illinois combined for nearly 90 carries as the Wildcats handily defeated Illinois this afternoon.

The Wildcats average just over 130 yards rushing on the season. Saturday, they ran for over 400 yards. It was the first time in 17 years Northwestern football hit the 400-yard mark.

Ironically, the last time the Wildcats hit the 400 yard mark was against Illinois.

Northwestern found two future star running backs. Freshmen Cam Porter and Evan Hull both set career highs in rushes and yards today.

Porter had 24 carries for 142 yards while Hull had 12 carries for 147 yards to lead the way for the Wildcats. Patrick Ramsey‘s role in this game was simple, take care of the football. Ramsey did just that with 82 yards passing one touchdown and –most important– no interceptions.

For Illinois, both starting defensive tackles were out for this game and it showed. Northwestern ran for over 7.3 yards per carry against the Illini. The Fighting Illini struggled offensively with just 257 total yards. Illinois started out well enough running the football, but could not score a touchdown coming away with just one field goal. Fighting Illini receivers dropped several passes that stalled drives for Illinois.

Here are three takeaways from today’s game.

3. No passing game, no problem

Many Big Ten conspirators have long thought the Wildcats keep their turf long in order to slow down faster teams. Couple the long turf, with freezing rain and some snow flurries and the conditions are not at all conducive for throwing the football.

The ‘Cats and Illini combined for 93 rushing attempts in this game. It was the Wildcats who were able to run the football most effectively.

Illinois football ran it well early, but could not sustain its first-quarter success. After an early fumble, the Wildcats made adjustments both offensively and defensively and dominated the rest of the game.

Northwestern was able to turn the time of possession around and shut out Illinois until the fourth quarter. Not only did Illinois struggle running the football most of the game, but the Illini also struggled throwing the football.

Though Patrick Ramsey threw the ball just 12 times, the Indiana transfer contributed 47 rushing yards this afternoon.

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