LIVE! from Ryan Field

LIVE! from Ryan Field

FINAL: Northwestern 50, Illinois 14.

EVANSTON - Now what?

After another lopsided loss - this administered by Northwestern, 50-14 - does Illinois shake up its coaching staff? Does Mike Thomas stand pat? Does anyone care?

The Illini will have plenty of questions to answer in what likely will be a hectic offseason.

Venric Mark rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown as Northwestern improved its chances for a berth in a New Year’s Day bowl game. Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter threw for a career-high three touchdowns and the Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) reached nine victories for the first time since 2008.

Penalties and turnovers hurt Illinois (2-10, 0-8), which has lost nine straight and 14 in a row in Big Ten play. The Illini committed four turnovers — including three interceptions — and eight penalties in their season finale.

Northwestern captured the Land of Lincoln Trophy after losing to the Illini in the rivalry game the last two seasons.

Donovonn Young rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown for Illinois, which ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring offense in coach Tim Beckman’s first season. Nathan Scheelhaase went 9 for 14 for 91 yards and two interceptions.

Northwestern led 27-14 at halftime, then scored early in the third quarter on Colter’s 15-yard pass to Tyris Jones. The Wildcats turned the game into a rout with a 24-yard touchdown catch by a wide-open Paul Jorgensen from Colter for a 41-14 lead after Ibraheim Campbell intercepted Scheelhaase.

After another Illinois interception, Mike Trumpy scored on a 3-yard run for a 48-14 lead. Northwestern recorded a safety with 3 minutes left.
Despite struggling on offense all season, Illinois showed life early.

The Illini scored on the opening drive on Young’s 15-yard run. The drive covered 78 yards and ate up 6:02 on the clock. A penalty nullified a 2-point conversion attempt, but the Illini nailed the extra-point kick.

Northwestern answered with Jeff Budzien’s 44-yard field goal to make it 7-3.

The Wildcats took the lead for good 32 seconds later. Illinois fumbled on the kickoff return and Northwestern scored on Colter’s 2-yard run for a 10-7 lead. Illinois ranked last in the Big Ten in turnover margin with minus-10.

Colter left the game with an apparent leg injury late in the first quarter. Trevor Siemian replaced him and threw an interception on his first pass attempt. Scheelhaase immediately threw a pick, and a sideline interference call on the Illini brought the Wildcats to the Northwestern 12. Beckman fell over and made contact with an official, resulting in the penalty. Northwestern scored on a 9-yard pass from Colter to Tony Jones for a 17-7 lead.

Reilly O’Toole took over at quarterback for Illinois early in the second quarter and scored on a 12-yard run to cut the lead to 17-14 with 10:55 left before halftime.

The Wildcats responded with a 3-yard touchdown run by Mark, capping a 79-yard drive to take a 24-14 lead.

Budzien kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 27-14 Northwestern halftime lead. The Wildcats reached the Illinois 9, but a clipping penalty pushed them back to the 24, and Northwestern had to settle for the field goal. — AP

Northwestern 27, Illinois 14 — Halftime


First-half star: Venric Mark, Northwestern. The diminutive running back is having his way against the Illini defense, breaking off sizable runs on the regular. The 180-pound junior has run for 94 yards on 13 carries and a TD.

First-half goat: Tim Beckman, Illinois. It’s been a rough season for the first-year coach. It started with the flap about recruiting Penn State players, continued with the tobacco incident at Wisconsin and continued further with the two sideline penalties against the Illini today, the last seeing the head coach falling to his backside on the sideline and getting in the way of an official. That’s not to mention the horrendous play on the field all season.

What we’re thinking: There are only 30 minutes remaining in the season. Where is everyone? This team is headed to 9-4. How the heck did NU win eight games? They can’t tackle anyone. Do they have to play the second half?

By the numbers:

88 — penalty yards against the Illini. They’ve been flagged eight times.

15 — penalty yards against the Wildcats. They were called for a clip with 38 seconds left.

67 — rushing yards by Illinois’ Donovonn Young on seven carries.

14 — first-half points for the Illini. They’ve only had 14 or more three other times this season against FBS opponents.

190 — rushing yards for NU. Venric Mark has 94 of them.

75 — rushing yards for NU quarterback Kain Colter on 11 carries.

2 — quarterbacks used today for Illinois. Nathan Scheelhaase was 7 for 10 for 78 yards and a pick before being benched. Reilly O’Toole os 2 for 2 for 26 yards and has a 12-yard TD run.

208 — total yards for NU.

205 — total yards for Illinois.

23 — consecutive games in which Illinois has committed at least one turnover.

2 — quarters of football remaining in Illinois’ season.

Illinois at Northwestern — Kickoff

The Illinois captains today are Michael Buchanan, Tommy Davis, Spencer Harris and Glenn Foster.

The Illini won the toss and elected to receive. Weird, they always defer. Northwestern will defend the north end zone.

It's 30 degrees at kickoff with a windchill of 24. Wind is out of the northwest at 6 mph.

Made the rounds and got some predictions for you. Everyone went with the 'Cats.

Mark Tupper from the Decatur Herald and Review says 41-6

Fletcher Page from says 24-10

There are like 13 Daily Illini kids here. The rundown of their scores: 34-13, 35-7, 31-7 and 31-13.

I went with 38-10.

Loren picked the Bulls.

OK, I'll check in with you good folks at halftime.

Illinois at Northwestern — 15 minutes before kickoff

It’s Senior Day here at Northwestern and the 22 NU seniors are being honored here on the field prior to kickoff. This is the winningest senior class in school history. Their 38 wins are two more than last year’s class.

Since I’ve still got your attention (I think) here’s how this is going to work today. I will update you again at kickoff and then not against until halftime. I repeat, HALFTIME, will be the next update after the game starts. Then we’ll post a short game story at the end.

For some more frequent updates on what’s happening and what Loren is saying, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusJ_NG). I’ll try to hit you with some stuff you don’t get on the broadcast.

There is nobody here, by the way. It’s a shame Northwestern can’tdraw very well, because this has been a very solid program. If Illinois was 8-3 and had been to four straight bowl games, Memorial Stadium would be packed.

They need a new scoreboard here, too, that thing is older than Loren.

Speaking of scoreboards, really excited to see how the new one at Memorial Stadium is going to look. I’m told it probably won’t be installed until the spring at the earliest. Makes sense, no need to get it all beat up during the harsh Midwest winter.

Here are some things to watch out for today. I like the comment below (Northwestern is good, UI is not). Pretty much sums it up.

Be back at kickoff.

Illinois at Northwestern — 45 minutes before kickoff

So, there’s a basketball game tomorrow. I’m expecting a nice crowd at the Assembly Hall tomorrow to welcome the 6-0 Illini back from Hawaii for their game against Gardner-Webb. “

Not sure many expected the Illini to be unbeaten after the Hawaii trip, but they are and they’ve done it in pretty impressive fashion, averaging 83 points per game. Right now, the team is trying to transition back to the Central Time Zone after spending a week four time zones west. John Groce isn’t worried about his team adjusting, however.

I’ve been asked over and over if the Illini will be ranked this week. There’s a very good chance they will be and at the very least they’ll receive votes. I’m still working on my poll, there’s a good chance they get into ours.

Some have tried to diminish Illinois’ championship at Maui because they didn’t have to play one of the so-called heavyweights. Here’s what Groce had to say about that.

“Call Roy Williams and ask him if he thinks Butler is any good. It’s one of those deals where you can’t control that but the teams we played were good. The environment we played in at Hawaii was tough. You have to be extremely physically and mentally tough to play Butler. Believe me, no one appreciates that more than me. I worked there and I’ve got a great feel for their culture and their disposition.”

Oh, we’re at a football game, sorry.

Both teams are on the field going through their preparations. Northwestern is going with the black jerseys, black helmets and purple pants.

The ‘Cats have a pretty good quarterback coming here next year. Maine South’s Matt Alviti was our All-State Player of the Year. Fred Kroner profiled Alviti earlier this week. Last year’s All-State Player of the Year, Wes Lunt from Rochester, is the starting quarterback now at Oklahoma State.

Here's the rest of our All-State team.

Illinois at Northwestern — 60 minutes before kickoff

Good morning and welcome (finally) to the final football game of the 2012 season. Marcus Jackson joining you from an empty Ryan Field as Northwestern looks to get to nine wins for the first time since 2008 against the Illini.

It's a typical late-fall Chicago morning. It's 29 degrees an hour before kickoff with a wind chill of 22 degrees. The wind is out of the northwest at 7 mph.

I know first hand that it's pretty chilly out there. I had to walk about a mile from the unmarked parking lot to the Ryan Field press box. Sorry, no more complaining from me.

Ran into Nathan Scheelhaase's dad, Nate Creer, in the way up to the press box. Big Nate was his usual upbeat self. The rough season the Illini and his son have had hasn't changed that man at all. To borrow a phrase from Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas "He makes caffeine nervous."

Certainly you folks want to hear all about the football team, right? Well, Illinois' specialists are on the field doing what they do. The Illini will go with the white pants, white jerseys and blue helmets for the 2012 finale. I believe that's the first time they've gone with that combo. We'll probably talk a lot of hoops in this space coming up, John Groce and Co. have energized the down-trodden Illinois fan base with their play to start the 2012-13 season.

But, since this is a fooball deal, I'll give you some things to catch up on as we approach kickoff.

Here's my Q&A with Michael Buchanan this week. He'll play on Sundays next year.

Here's Jim Rossow's Big Ten Report.

I'll be back in a few with another update. Loren Tate just sat down. He's got his binoculars ready and a cup of coffee. His voice sounds like he did some serious partying on Rush Street last night. 

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LoyalIllini wrote on November 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

There is nothing "Live!" or insightful about this post from IlliniHQ and Marcus Jackson.  This product goes hand in hand with the miserable product that has been Illini FB.    

Salt Life wrote on November 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm
Profile Picture

Have now heard from more than one connected person that there are indications Tim Beckman won't return to in 2013. We shall see.

I believe Beckman has a relatively small buyout. RT : .. money not an issue from what I know..


Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Bushleague Jackson's rant about walking in the cold is so Sleepy Gazoo--it's always about them rather than the game.

CecilColeman wrote on November 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

The first quarter just ended and it was the most inept and hopeless performance since the days of Gary Moeller. AD Mike  Thomas should be roasted for hiring this idiot who has no clue how to prepare a football team for a game.

Is reilly O'Toole even in uniform?  How could he possibly do worse than Little Nathan?

Dan Bloeme wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

This must be the most inept football coaching staff in all of college football led by none other than . I am so thankful this miserable season is over, with the Illini getting blown out no less than 9 times and going winless in the Big Ten. I know he won't do it after only one year, but I so wish Mike Thomas would undo his gigantic mistake and fire Tim Beckman and his assistants today before those babboons even make it back to Champaign. PUKE. Coaches are such a bumbling bunch of nasty clowns.

ElDuderino wrote on November 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

Does anyone think Jim Tressel would coach here if the position was open?

Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Tressel might welcome the chance to get back in the conference if he belives he could turn it around. I doubt it can be done.

CecilColeman wrote on November 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

Somebody get Pocic off the field, take his uniform and tell him to get lost.

griff507 wrote on November 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm


How can you expect the players to play smart football, when the HEAD coach, gets TWO sideline penalties in the first half! At least on the second one the ref, knocked the crap out of Beckman! The coach can't even figure out where the heck to stand, so what chance do the players have of learning anything about football from this guy?

The place where coaching careers go to die, (Illinois), is alive and well.

Truely sad, The University of Illinois, deserves better.

CecilColeman wrote on November 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm

This game should be for "The Land of Stinkin' Trophy"

minwyhe wrote on November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Once again Scheelhase has proven that he is not worthy of being anything but a second rate QB.  Hopefully, the incoming freshman who has committed to Illinois for next year will keep his commitment (after the fiasco this season was).   He should have the inside track to start which could be a stepping stone to the pros.  Hopefully, some agent will entice Scheelhase to turn pro, but given his ability that is doubtful.  Not saying this to be mean, but Nathan is not a good QB.

illinifaningeorgia wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Hopefully, some agent will entice Scheelhase to turn pro...

Are you nuts?  Not in the U.S. or even the Canadian Football League.  This guy is by far the worst QB in the Big Ten, a conference that is having a very down year.


Dan Bloeme wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Nathan is a lousy high major QB. Any decent QB needs to be able to make all the passes. It would be best for Nathan to either switch to defensive back or slot receiver or otherwise transfer to a D-II school to finish out his college career. I hope to never again see Nathan at QB for Illinois.

CecilColeman wrote on November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Where are all the moaners and groaners?  "I want seven home games".............."It's all Guenther's fault"............."Zook this/Zook that!!"

Well, NOW look what you've got!

And I bet all those moaners and groaners donate a whole lot of dough, buy season tix and bleed orange..........................

OKOMIS wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Zook sucked at Florida... he sucked worse at Illinois... only difference, Florida canned his sorry ass quick and replaced him with a bright young coach from Utah... Urban Meyer... the fact Thomas replaced him with someone even worse than him (zook - who thought THAT was possible)) in no way makes Zook any less of a joke of a coach.

Moonpie wrote on November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

"It's huge," Beckman said. "You say you're only as good as your last game."

Well, now we see how good they are --- as bad as a Tate column..

Time to buy some speed and actual talent. Beckman's roster is MAC at best. Or whatever conference Charleston Southern is in. Or Champaign Central.

And dump Little Nathan.

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

When you said it's "Time to buy some speed" I was pretty sure were denoting use of hard drugs, as that's likely the only way any of us will get through another season of this garbage next year.  This is the worst college coach and assembled college coaching staff I've ever seen.  Beckman made his money and is set for life.  Fire him, give him his money and start over from scratch with a bum off the street willing to coach for front row season basketball tickets and food and housing stipends.  It's not like we'll be any worse the next few years than with Timmy B.  Heck, we might even be better.  Fire this clown.

OKOMIS wrote on November 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

actually speed would be the wrong thing, who want to be alert for this crap.... i'd say some type of seditive or that stuff Micheal Jackson use to take,, i'd rather be in a coma than watch another year like this.

Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Actually, I meant actual speed at skill positions, but drugs might help ease the pain of watching this team and reading the Sleepy Gazoo's inability to cover it.

pitch9 wrote on November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

This Illini football program is an absolute embarrassment.  For those who thought it couldn't get worse than the Zook era, think again.  The talent on this team is not that bad, they just wreak of poor coaching.  I went to school at U of I from 67-72 and I thought nothing could be worse than that era after the "slush fund scandal".  I now stand corrected.  This is actually worse.  On the other hand, basketball is fun to watch and the agony that is Illini football is almost over.

Moonpie wrote on November 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm

"There are like 13 Daily Illini kids here."

Really, Mr. Jackson? KIds? After the way you write? I'm betting the DI does more actual reporting than the mopes at the Sleepy Gazoo. They're still too young to be consumed by their egos. 

aaeismacgychel wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

You're going to have to forgive him, moonpie.  MJ had to sit through that whole game and comment on it.  He was likely on his 18th beer by 5 minutes into the 1st Quarter.

Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Jackson likes to roost at the Esquire does he? No surprise. I was not a Klee fan, but at least Klee could write using modern references, unlike Tate.

OrlandoIllini wrote on November 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Yes, Cowpie. They are kids. I was in news-ed journ at what was the College of Communications --now the College of media-- and yes, DI staffers were, are and always will be kids. It goes with the stage in life. You'll understand that when you get to that point in life.

Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

No, orlandoillini--they aren't kids. Even at the DI staff is professional and must think of themselves that way. I find it ironic that Bushleague Jackson looks down his nose at them. I took a Journ undergrad degree from Illinois, too, and was in the business ten years.

Dan Bloeme wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm
OrlandoIllini wrote on November 24, 2012 at 2:11 pm

2012 featured the worst football the Illini have played in at least 45 years, perhaps ever. It was worse than the Valek, Moeller & Tepper years combined. The players appeared not to know what to do. They were not prepared for any of the teams they played. They could not run plays correctly on a routine basis. The two teams they beat could have been beaten by several of the high school teams in the Orlando area.

For a guy who has been around football coaching since elementary school, Beckman seems to have been introduced to football a few months ago. He did some nice P.R. things early on, but every coaching action I can recall him taking was an unmitigated disaster.... Bad hires at almost every assistant spot (Luke Butkus is the only keeper; he's good but the players he coaches are physically inadequate); Camping out at Happy Valley to take one O-lineman who's not good enough to play a single down on the worst team in the conference; Chewing tobacco on national TV; Clock management as bad as Zook's; and today's unbelievably inept block on an official during a play. And that's only part of his 2012 resume.

Next year will probably be 1-11 or 0-12.

It is astonishing that none of the team left during the season. Moreso that none of the 2013 recruits have jumped ship... yet.

Mike Thomas needs replace Beckman now. It would be a strong signal that the UofI will not accept incompetence. What other business would accept this performance and plan on giving an incapable employee another year or two or three to try again?






Bwp 5P wrote on November 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm

"What other business would accept this performance and plan on giving an incapable employee another year or two or three to try again?"


I know of one that does!

TheProphet wrote on November 25, 2012 at 7:11 am

Beckman will not be fired.  Thomas made a major, rookie AD mistake in giving an unknown and unproven candidate a 5 year contract at what a seasoned  experienced major program head coach makes. He screwed up. Could have, and should have, offered him a 3 year contract at $800K to start with incentives and bonuses.  It took a lot to buy out Zook's contract and Weber's contract (prior AD mistake) and thus there will not be a new head football coach at Illinois for several years and this was Thomas's mistake.

wellsbestilliniqb wrote on November 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

There are no other ways to describe how bad the Illini are, which haven't been mentioned.  The coaches are bad and the talent just isn't there.  The suggestion to hire Tressell is interesting because the Illini will have three types of coaches they can hire: (1) Big names who have fallen (Tressell, Jason Garrett, Andy Reid, Gene Chizik, Lane Kiffin), (2) major college assistants, or, (3) mid-major head coaches.  We've tried #1 and #3. I like Todd Monken, OC from OK State. Let's get someone in who can recruit a big arm QB and throw the ball all over the field.  That's what it takes to re-build.  Get a throwing QB and the WRs and RBs will follow.  Once the offense shows it can be exciting, the good defensive recruits will start coming.  

annabellissimo wrote on November 24, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Since the University is already paying, or did pay off, three coaches who were fired, it is unlikely and not ideal that a fourth coach be added to that list. However, it is likely that most would agree Beckman is not "the guy", for whatever reasons. Many say he is "in over his head" but that doesn't make sense since he has been a head coach elsewhere and the football fields are the same, the football rules are the same, and so on, and the University of Illinois is not such a vaunted football program as to engender awe among the football "cognescenti", so to speak, even though to say he is "in over his head" implies that an inferior coach was hired for a superiior football program. Wherever the truth lies in all the analysis, one cannot deny that Beckman had virtually the same players as last year, yet the team performed abominably. I feel sorry for those players, especially the seniors.  Assuming these disparate facts -  the University can't easily fire another coach and pay him not to work and the University can't afford another losing year like this one - may I suggest one idea:  DEMOTE Beckman, continue to employ him as an ASSISTANT coach or in some similar capacity, and hire a new head coach, maybe somebody cheaper but a real go-getter, a real up and comer, a real COACH!  Eastern Illinois University went from terrible under their long-time (and elderly) coach to winning their conference in ONE YEAR - same players, same conference, NEW coach, one who reportedly really knows what he's doing and who coaches and motivates and gets athletic results.  Surely the University of Illinois can do at least as much if they demote Beckman and hire a new, REAL coach. No, I do NOT mean someone who will bend any rules - NO!  But somebody who can coach and teach young men to reach their own best athletic achievment and in so doing represent their school - OUR school - well.  There is apparently a campaign going on to contrive a mascot for the U of I - an offensive and stupid idea, in my opinion - and the suggestions I've seen are ugly, insulting and demeaning (to everything, from Lincoln looking like the "fighting Irish" guy, holding a beer stein (!), to an ear of corn that looks drunk, extolling drunkenness and deriding the University's heritage), but this campaign does illustrate the bizarrely low opinion the University of Illinois folks have of our school and its "image"- focusing on Lincoln (he had nothing to do with the U of I) or corn (really? that's IT?).  We are the school of NOBEL PRIZE winners, of amazing research, of awesome graduates in all fields, yes including agriculture, but way beyond agriculture, as well. We need our coaches and our "image makers" to wake up to the fact that our University deserves far better than they are giving. By the way, the only good suggestion for a mascot (and I don't think a mascot is a good idea at all) was a Lincoln-imaged figure dressed in an outfit similar to the Chief's, minus the headdress, and he - "Lincoln" - would dance to the 3-in-1 at halftimes.  How would folks protest Lincoln dressed in buckskin?  After all, his contemporaries in Kentucky dressed in buckskin clothing all their lives. Maybe Beckman doesn't deserve to be fired after just one year, but he also doesn't deserve to be head coach, having led this same team as last year's to this abysmal end. So, do what is logical and fair: demote him, let him finish out his contract and perhaps learn coaching in the process as an assistant at a big university, while hiring a new head coach - perhaps with a one year contract, or an eager up and comer with no contract. Something can be done by those who know how to do these things. This year in football was like Weber's years in basketball:  really cruel and unusual punishment to young men who have four years (or so) to show their stuff. Weber stifled and oppressed Tyler Griffey; Weber's gone - and look at Tyler Griffey play now! It's delightful and such a great example of poetic justice, athletically speaking. Coaches matter, for good and ill!!  

Moonpie wrote on November 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Is it true they are actually pondering whether to axe Beckman after one year? While I am not impressed with him so far, it's hard for me to lay it on him given the team is slow and average and lacks character. And who could they get to take over this train wreck? Who good would want the job? It's a mess. More than anything many of the players seem to lack heart.

And there's no QB on the roster--I said Scheelhaase was a mistake years ago. Enough with average running backs pretending to be QBs. Is Aaron Bailey really better? Or is he Little Nathan with more speed and muscle?

I fet at the start of the season, as far back as camp, Beckman should have taklen the controversial move of going with O'Toole and giving him enough reps to get him ready.

Is Little Nathan really going to be the guy next year?

OrlandoIllini wrote on November 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

You have my apologies, Cowpie.

Your writings have never given a hint that you had any acquaintence with journalism, or were above the age of 14.