for this game

Bacher leads Northwestern over Illinois

Nov 23, 2008 - 2:59 AM EVANSTON, Illinois (Ticker) -- Northwestern senior quarterback C.J. Bacher went out as a winner.

Playing in his final home game, Bacher passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, leading the 24th-ranked Wildcats to a 27-10 victory over Illinois.

The win enabled the Wildcats (9-3, 5-3) to clinch fourth place in the Big Ten Conference. It also gave them nine wins in a season for the first time since going 9-3 under Gary Barnett in 1996.

"With nine wins, we put ourselves in the position for 10, and there's only one team in Northwestern history - that was the team I played on in 1995, that's won 10 games. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

"The difference is that 10-win team didn't get the bowl win (losing to Southern California in the Rose) and we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, and that will be our focus. Our goal will be to win."

Headed to their first bowl game since 2005, the Wildcats' postseason possibilities include the Outback Bowl (January 1), Alamo Bowl (December 29), the Champs Sports Bowl (December 27) and the Insight Bowl (December 31).

Having reached nine wins for only fifth time in school history, Northwestern improved its chance of playing in a New Year's Day bowl game.

"Nine-and three has a pretty good ring to it," Bacher said. "We set out to win a bowl game, from the beginning of the year that was our main goal. We've been able to put ourselves into a position now to get to a warm place, maybe play in a later game, so it feels great."

Northwestern's 23 seniors have registered 32 career wins, the most by any five-year class since the early 1900s.

"I'm very proud of the 23 young men who have battled through as much adversity as young men can go through throughout their collegiate years, and they've stayed together," said Fitzgerald, who was named Northwestern coach in 2006 following the death of previous coach Randy Walker due to a heart attack.

Bacher, who missed three weeks with a hamstring before returning last week against Michigan, tossed a 13-yard pass to Ross Lane to give Northwestern a 13-0 lead with 12:07 remaining in the first half.

Illinois (5-7, 3-5) closed within 16-10 on Matt Eller's 21-yard field goal with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter.

But two series later, Brendan Smith's 51-yard punt return gave the Wildcats a first down at the Illinois 20-yard line. Bacher tossed an 18-yard TD pass to Eric Peterman with 9:08 remaining.

Stephen Simmons rushed for the two-point conversion, giving Northwestern a 24-10 lead.

"Obviously the punt return is the thing that took the wind out of our sails and that's something you just can't have," Illinois coach Ron Zook said.

Illinois' hopes ended when quarterback Juice Williams, who completed 20-of-36 passes for 212 yards and no touchdowns, fumbled on the next series after getting sacked.

The loss eliminated the Fighting Illini from bowl consideration. They are the first team to finish with a losing record the season after playing in the Rose Bowl since Michigan in 1965.

"We worked so hard to come out and be successful and to be one game short of being bowl eligible, that is a feeling that you can't even describe," Williams said. "It is a feeling that is going to eat at you."

Saturday marked the final time that Northwestern and Illinois played for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. The schools are retiring the trophy in an NCAA-mandated directive to eliminate Native-American references.

Since the trophy was introduced to the rivalry in 1945, Illinois holds a 32-28-2 lead in the series.








  • NCAAF FINAL
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ILLINOIS 0 0 7 3 10
    NORTHWESTERN 6 7 3 11 27 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, STEPHEN SIMMONS 1 YD RUN (PAT
    FAILED), 12:36. NORTHWESTERN
    6-0
    2ND QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, ROSS LANE 14 YD PASS FROM C.J.
    BACHER (AMADO VILLARREAL
    KICK), 2:53. NORTHWESTERN 13-0
    3RD Q

    Nov 22 6:29 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NORTHWESTERN
    AMADO VILLARREAL 23 YD
    ILLINOIS 10
    NORTHWESTERN 27 2:44 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Illinois 10, Northwestern 27  4th - 2:44Nov 22 6:16 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTHWESTERN
    ERIC PETERMAN 18 YD PASS FROM C.J. BACHER
    (STEPHEN SIMMONS RUN FOR TWO-POINT CONVERSION)
    ILLINOIS 10
    NORTHWESTERN 24 9:08 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Illinois 10, Northwestern 24  4th - 9:08Nov 22 6:01 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG ILLINOIS
    MATT ELLER 21 YD
    ILLINOIS 10
    NORTHWESTERN 16 12:24 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Illinois 10, Northwestern 16  4th - 12:24Nov 22 5:51 PM


  • NCAAF END, 3RD QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ILLINOIS 0 0 7 7
    NORTHWESTERN 6 7 3 16 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, STEPHEN SIMMONS 1 YD RUN (PAT
    FAILED), 12:36. NORTHWESTERN
    6-0
    2ND QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, ROSS LANE 14 YD PASS FROM C.J.
    BACHER (AMADO VILLARREAL
    KICK), 2:53. NORTHWE

    Nov 22 5:44 PM


  • NCAAF
    FG NORTHWESTERN
    AMADO VILLARREAL 28 YD
    ILLINOIS 7
    NORTHWESTERN 16 2:41 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Illinois 7, Northwestern 16  3rd - 2:41Nov 22 5:37 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD ILLINOIS
    JASON FORD 1 YD RUN
    (MATT ELLER KICK)
    ILLINOIS 7
    NORTHWESTERN 13 9:45 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Illinois 7, Northwestern 13  3rd - 9:45Nov 22 5:20 PM


  • NCAAF HALFTIME
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ILLINOIS 0 0 0
    NORTHWESTERN 6 7 13 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, STEPHEN SIMMONS 1 YD RUN (PAT
    FAILED), 12:36. NORTHWESTERN
    6-0
    2ND QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, ROSS LANE 14 YD PASS FROM C.J.
    BACHER (AMADO VILLARREAL
    KICK), 2:53. NORTHWESTERN 13

    Nov 22 4:50 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTHWESTERN
    ROSS LANE 14 YD PASS FROM C.J. BACHER
    (AMADO VILLARREAL KICK)
    ILLINOIS 0
    NORTHWESTERN 13 12:07 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Illinois 0, Northwestern 13  2nd - 12:07Nov 22 4:18 PM


  • NCAAF END, 1ST QTR
    1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ILLINOIS 0 0
    NORTHWESTERN 6 6 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NORTHWESTERN - TD, STEPHEN SIMMONS 1 YD RUN (PAT
    FAILED), 12:36. NORTHWESTERN
    6-0

    Nov 22 4:09 PM


  • NCAAF
    TD NORTHWESTERN
    STEPHEN SIMMONS 1 YD RUN
    (PAT FAILED)
    ILLINOIS 0
    NORTHWESTERN 6 2:24 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Illinois 0, Northwestern 6  1st - 2:24Nov 22 4:02 PM
  • 5
    roots
    mrman226 Added 5 roots

    Illinois vs. NorthwesternNov 22 7:01 AM