Expert Cappers Picks
College Football
Illinois at Northwestern
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, November 24, 2018
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois

No. 21 Northwestern looks to put an exclamation point on a successful regular season when its hosts Illinois in the battle for the Land of Lincoln Trophy on Saturday. The Wildcats have won six consecutive conference games, including a 24-14 road victory against Minnesota, to punch their ticket to their first Big Ten Championship game in program history and hope to keep rolling by beating the Fighting Illini for the fourth straight time.

"Playing for the Land of Lincoln Trophy is critically important for us and we've been fortunate now to win three in a row and hopefully we'll find a way to get it done on Saturday," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald told reporters. "There's a lot for us to play for and our guys are very excited for the opportunity." Illinois is left to pick up the pieces following a 63-0 loss to Iowa in Week 12, which matched the largest margin of defeat in program history. The Fighting Illini, who were beaten by the same scoreline against the University of Chicago in 1906, have given up an average of 48.2 points during conference play and hope to get over the disappointment of missing out on the postseason for the fourth straight year by knocking off the Wildcats for the first time since Nov. 29, 2014. "The Land of Lincoln Trophy has been up there for too many years," Illinois coach Lovie Smith told reporters. "Our guys realize who we're playing and what we're playing for."

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Northwestern -18.5

ABOUT ILLINOIS (4-7, 2-6 Big Ten): AJ Bush was limited to 82 yards on 12-of-28 passing with two interceptions as the Fighting Illini could only muster 216 total yards on Senior Day. Ra'Von Bonner was one of the lone bright spots on offense as he gained a career-high 96 yards on 21 carries against Iowa while defensive end Bobby Roundtree registered two sacks to give him four in his last two games. Reggie Corbin, who leads the team with 1,007 rushing yards and ranks second nationally with eight plays over 50 yards, left the game with an ankle injury after his first carry against the Hawkeyes and is questionable for Saturday.

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (7-4, 7-1): Clayton Thorson threw for 230 yards against Minnesota to become the sixth player in Big Ten history to surpass 10,000 career passing yards with 10,113. Isaiah Bowser rushed for 85 yards and a pair of touchdowns while linebacker Nate Hall recorded five tackles and two interceptions before being ejected for targeting in the second half. Wide receiver Flynn Nagel, who leads the team in catches (64) and receiving yards (746), suffered a foot injury and is doubtful for Saturday's clash.


1. Northwestern has won 10 straight games against West Division rivals.

2. Bowser has rushed for at least one touchdown in four of his last five games.

3. Corbin leads the nation in yards per carry (8.8).

PREDICTION: Northwestern 35, Illinois 17
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Illinois 4-7 L2 26.9 40.8 3-4 1-3 0-1 0-0 2-6
Northwestern 7-4 W2 23.6 22.2 2-4 5-0 4-4 0-0 7-1
Last Meeting
Illinois Northwestern
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/25/17 NW 42 ILL 7 239 100 139 446 306 140
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Illinois C. Thomas 45.2 139 0 2
Northwestern C. Thorson 61.9 140 1 1
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Illinois D. Brown 12 51 4.2 0
Northwestern J. Jackson 18 144 8.0 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Illinois L. Dorsey 4 63 15.8 0
Northwestern B. Skowronek 1 52 52.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Illinois C. Thomas 1
Northwestern J. Brown 1
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Illinois A. Bush 52.8 1132 5 8
Northwestern C. Thorson 60.1 2565 12 12
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Illinois R. Corbin 115 1007 8.8 9
Northwestern I. Bowser 143 570 4.0 6
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Illinois R. Smalling 26 334 12.8 4
Northwestern F. Nagel 64 746 11.7 2
Touchdowns Player TD
Illinois R. Corbin 9
Northwestern C. Thorson 7
Quickchart Matchup
Illinois Illinois Off vs  Northwestern Northwestern Def
Illinois 408.2 yards
Northwestern 367 yards
Illinois 6.1 yards/rush
Northwestern 4 yards/rush
Illinois 5.9 yards/attempt
Northwestern 6.8 yards/attempt
Northwestern Northwestern Off vs  Illinois Illinois Def
Northwestern 350 yards
Illinois 520.9 yards
Northwestern 2.7 yards/rush
Illinois 6 yards/rush
Northwestern 6.3 yards/attempt
Illinois 8.6 yards/attempt