EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) Cam Porter ran for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns, Evan Hull added a season-best 149 yards on the ground, and No. 15 Northwestern tuned up for the Big Ten championship game by beating Illinois 28-10 on Saturday.
Porter came in with just 32 yards and one TD. But the freshman broke out in a big way, leading the Wildcats (6-1, 6-1, No. 14 CFP) to an easy victory over the Illini (2-5, 2-5).
Northwestern’s focus now shifts to the Big Ten championship game against No. 3 Ohio State next week. It’s the second title matchup in three years between the teams.
Northwestern won the Big Ten West after finishing last in the division in 2019. The Buckeyes had their ticket to Indianapolis punched when conference administrators and athletic directors called an audible, voting to drop the six-game requirement for eligibility.
Porter scored from the 2 near the end of the second quarter. He added an 18-yarder on the opening drive of the second half.
Hull broke off a 32-yard TD late in the third to make it 28-3. He also had a 50-yard run and averaged 11.5 yards on 13 carries.
Peyton Ramsey threw for 82 yards and a touchdown, completing 7 of 12 passes against a short-handed defense.
The Wildcats held a huge edge in total yards – 493-262 – and bounced back from a loss at Michigan State two weeks earlier. They had an unexpected bye last week when Minnesota canceled their game because of a COVID-19 outbreak within its program.
Illinois’ Brandon Peters threw for a season-low 21 yards, completing 3 of 14 passes. The senior started the finale after Isaiah Williams replaced him in the fourth quarter of last week’s 35-21 loss to Iowa.
Williams threw a 46-yard TD to Brian Hightower in the fourth.
Safety Derrick Smith got ejected for targeting a receiver in the second quarter, another blow for an already thin defense. The Illini were down two free safeties with Tony Adams testing positive for COVID-19 and Nate Hobbs out because of contact tracing. Defensive linemen Jamal Woods and Roderick Perry II, linebackers Khalan Tolson and Delano Ware and safety Sydney Brown were out for reasons not explicitly tied to the coronavirus.
Illinois: Not a good way to finish the year for the Illini. They are 17-39 since coach Lovie Smith took over in 2016 and have nine straight losing seasons with two bowl losses in that span.
Northwestern: The Wildcats got off to a somewhat shaky start, then dominated on the way to their sixth straight win against Illinois. That matches a six-game run against Wisconsin from 1929-37 as Northwestern’s second-longest against a Big Ten opponent.
Illinois: The Illini will try to regroup after another rough season.
Northwestern: The Wildcats will try to stop an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State when they meet Dec. 19 in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 63-14-1.
More AP college football:See source
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