Two Northwestern players with the last name Jones, Tyris Jones and Tony Jones, scored a touchdown in Northwestern’s 50-14 thrashing of the hapless Illini. A third, Christian Jones, came this close to scoring one of his own. That’s half of the Joneses on the team.
Why am I bringing up this random fact?
A) It’s both awesome and strangely amusing.
B) Random facts are the only thing that makes my pieces worth reading over say, real sports journalism from The Daily or NBN.
C) To segue into another great fact: Eight different Wildcats put points on the board against Illinois. They are: Jeff Budzien, Tony Jones, Tyris Jones, O-Lineman Paul Jorgenson (on a 24 yard pass, no less), Mike Trumpy, Max Campbell (tackled Illinois’ Dami Ayoola in the end-zone for a safety), Venric Mark, and the Coltergeist.
Talk about depth. Or weak competition. Was Northwestern only able to accomplish this hilarious feat because the Fighting Illini are hilariously bad? Maybe. Probably. But who cares? Northwestern finally handily held on to a fourth quarter lead. They finally blew out an opponent in style, and in fact played their best game in the second half, outscoring Illinois 23-0.
Things seemed awfully tense in the beginning, however, as Illinois drew first blood with a touchdown and kept the score within three points about five minutes into the second quarter. That’s the closest the score ever got, though. A combination of penalties, 8 for 88 yards, and a strong defensive showing by Northwestern prevented Illinois from putting any points on the board for the remainder of the game.
The run game was as strong as it has been all season, as Northwestern ran all over Illinois for a total of 338 yards. The usual suspects, Venric Mark and the Coltergeist, were responsible for 215 of those yards, and Mark rushed for over 100 yards (127) for the eighth time this season. Northwestern gained a total of 450 yards to Illinois’ 242.
Fitz decided to go for it on 4th down four times in the game. The Cats converted on every attempt. It’s great to see Fitz running up the score on our opponents, something I’ve been saying he should do all year, sportsmanship be damned.
After a two game losing streak, it’s good to see Northwestern beat Illinois (first time in my college career) and bring home the oversized Monopoly piece that is the Land of Lincoln Trophy. The rivalry now stands at 54-47-5 in favor of Illinois, meaning that the Illini are now 8 losses away from being the only non-Indiana Big Ten team to have a losing record against Northwestern. Pathetic.
Illinois is now winless in Big Ten play, and is at 2-10 for the season. Not exactly a good start for first year head coach Tim Beckman. Pat Fitzgerald has won his 49th game as head coach of Northwestern, tying Pappy Waldorf for the most wins among Northwestern head coaches.
Northwestern, on the other hand, moves to 9-3 on the season with this blowout win. This is a year when many were expecting us to go 5-7, and few thought we would win more than seven games. Now we have nine, and are three unfortunate 4th Quarters away from having a perfect season right.
But instead of playing the depressing game of what-could-have-been, we can all focus on what a good season it has been for the Cats. This is Northwestern’s first nine win season since 2008, and winning nine games is no easy feat. We have our first 1,000 yard rusher since 2006. We have a legitimate shot at going to the Capitol One Bowl, the destination for the Big Whatever’s number two team, and at the very least we’ll be playing in Florida on New Year’s Day.
If we win in our bowl game, we’ll have won our first bowl since 1949, we’ll have had our first 10 win season since 1995, and Pat Fitzgerald will become the winningest coach ever at Northwestern.
What a way to end the 2012 regular season.
Next stop Florida.