Well, here it is...
The Last Game
And its the "last hurrah" for NU Seniors
King, Jeff Roehl, Vince Cartaya, Raheem Covington, Onaje Grimes,
Kevin Lawrence, Jon Schweighardt, and David Wasielewski. They
have seen the agony of losing seasons, and the ecstasy of Big 10 Championships.
Coach Randy Walker recognizes the greater importance of the game:
We both go into the game wanting to
win badly ... and send off a group of Seniors, who I know in both
cases are going to be missed. You have 2 senior classes at both schools
who have won championships in the Big 10, and you want to set a tone for
the future. [Big 10 Teleconference]
is coming off of an overtime loss to Ohio
State. The loss was the last chance the
Illini had for a bowl berth, and highlighted the turn around they've had
late in the season...
Boy. they're playing great the last
part of the season -- [Randy Walker]
The coach of the Illini
echoes Walker's comments.
And its an opportunity to get
to 500 if we can and get a win to finish up the season. Its important to
us, and makes us want to get on the practice field today and get going...
get all our attention turned towards Northwestern and get this cranked
up. -- [Ron Turner-Big 10 teleconference]
According to the coach, the big difference between
this year and last was that last year Illinois
figured out how to win the tight games. This year its a different story.
His opinion is that this year his team didn't get it done at the end of
the game and so they lost.
We probably weren't as good as everyone
thought we were a year ago, and we're definitely not as bad as everyone
thinks we are this year. -- [Turner]
Coach Ron Turner finally settled
on a quarterback, Senior Jon Beutjer who finally seems
to be realizing his potential after transferring from Iowa. Beutjer
completes just under 60% of his passes, and has well over 2200 yards passing.
He also has 18 TD passes.
There is an interesting matchup this game. NU
Senior Jon Schweighardt used to line up with Illini
safety Eric McGoey and catch passes from Illinois
QB John Beutjer at Wheaton. They all won a 6A Illinois state championship
their senior year. You might see Jon S lining up against McGoey
at times during the game.
"It's kind of weird because they [Schweighardt
& McGoey] were my two favorite targets in high school," - [John
Beutjer - Daily Illini]
possible big event for the Illini
during the game is that Senior running back Antoineo Harris [Illinois
Photo left - from Bollingbrook, IL] only needs 130 yards to break the Illinois
school rushing record [1280 set in 1996]. The Illini are licking their
chops, figuring to break this one easily against NU's young defense.
potential record is sought by Illinois WR Brandon Lloyd who only
needs 58 yards to break 1000 receiving yards on his season. Lloyd represents
He [Brandon Lloyd] means a lot, he's
a big play player. Brand is a guy we've been able to go to in big times,
clutch times in games where he's stepped up and made plays for us.
Lloyd isn't alone, Turner also noted that Walter
Young, Aaron Moorehead and Greg Lewis also figure into the Illini
attack. In all 13 players have receptions, including both running backs.
You know the Cats would like to shut down a few
of these record attempts - especially on their home turf.
Nobody's saying much about the Illinois
D. The Sporting News gives their check mark to the Northwestern
D-Line and Secondary while giving their linebacker check to Illinois!
It makes you wonder if this might be one of those high scoring affairs?
Then there's "The Rivalry" for the Sweet Sioux
Randy Walker hinted that Illinois
likes to throw multiple things at a team, but neither coach has had much
to say about defense.
This is the last game for both of
our teams, and our seniors are saying good-bye. I think it has a special
meaning too because we're both in state...Its grown to be a strong rivalry
and something to get excited about - [Randy Walker]
A sentiment echoed by Ron Turner:
We're excited, we're looking forward
to the game this week. It will be a big challenge for us, a big rivalry
for us, we're playing for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk which is very important
to our players - [Ron Turner]
We always have the intangible things you're
talking about, you know, your p