Chicago-area college football weekly| Week 11: Irish soar, Northwestern fights and Illini fall


Photo courtesy Marco Verch/Creative Commons.

Nick Doherty, Columnist

As we get closer to bowl season and the College Football Playoffs each and every single week we have seen a lot of crazy storylines and upsets. From Kansas to TCU and Tennessee these have been some of the amazing headlines throughout the first weeks of the season.

With all of this hype at the national level it made me wonder. How are the local teams doing this season? You know, Northwestern, Illinois, and Notre Dame. 

All three of these teams have had quite an interesting season with one flying at the top. Another hitting a bunch of loops in as it looks like they got their season back on track. And one that still hasn’t hit rock bottom. So it’s now a good time to see how all three of these teams fared last weekend.


#16 Illini can’t convert against Sparty:

Coming into this game Illinois was flying. Shattering expectations this season with a 7-1 record plus being ranked 16th in the college football playoffs for the first time in program history.

However, the honeymoon is now over after the Illini falter to Michigan State with a final score of 15-23. What ended up hurting them the most was the inconsistency on most of their drives which included four failed fourth down conversions and a Chase Brown fumble at MSU’s 22 yard line. 

The defense played well for most of the game until they would end up giving MSU two 3rd quarter touchdowns that would push them ahead. Because the offense kept putting them in bad spots it was inevitable that the defense would fold after a point.

Though the offense would still put up decent numbers with Chase Brown running for 136 yards on 33 Carries and Quarterback Tommy Devito going 28-37 with 288 yards and 2 TD. But throughout the game there were too many mistakes from the Illini’s offense and special teams that would end up costing them the game.

Moving on to next week Illinois will be taking on Purdue in a huge matchup that will decide the Big 10 West. This will be a good rebound opportunity for the Illini because of Purdue’s recent struggles against Wisconsin and Iowa. If Illinois is able to sustain drives and the defense comes out swinging. I think they will be in the driver’s seat all the way to Indianapolis. My prediction for this game is #21 Illinois 31-Purdue 17


Irish block #4 Clemson for huge win:

Notre Dame this season has been like a huge roller coaster. With the ups after beating ranked Syracuse and BYU teams and the downs of seeing some low points with losses to both Marshall and Stanford. 

I really question which type of Notre Dame we would see against a top five team like Clemson and what I saw was exciting. The Irish defense would end up holding Clemson to zero points until 10 minutes left in 4th quarter and that doesn’t mention the 96 yard pick-six by Benjamin Morrison that would put the game out of reach for the tigers.

If we can see this Irish team for the rest of the season I fully believe that they would have a shot at one of the top bowl games at the end of the season. They still have to play a huge matchup against USC at the end of the season which will decide who the Irish will play.

Next week Notre Dame will be taking on The Naval Academy in what should be an easy game for the Irish. If the defense can play like they did against Clemson, Navy’s triple opinion should be no match for the Irish. My prediction for this game is #20 Notre Dame 56-Navy 14.


Wildcats bring the fight but end up falling to the Buckeyes:

Going into the game this week I had zero confidence that Northwestern would be able to do anything to stop arguably one of the top offenses in the country. However, the Wildcats and their friend the weather would be able to hold Heisman hopeful C.J. Stroud to a 38% completion rating and only 76 yards through the air. 

By halftime with the score deadlocked 7-7 after Evan Hall’s 16 yard Touchdown. It looked like the Cats had a really chance to beat the #2nd ranked team in the nation.

After half Northwestern became Northwestern and would end up having zero offensive production and Ohio State would pull away with 2 late TD runs by Miyan Williams which would end up being the nail in the coffin for the worst team in the Big10.

Next week Northwestern will take on Minnesota which is where I will expect to see the same type of offensive production that we saw last week. My prediction for this game is Minnesota 31-Northwestern 10.