|Illini say they're focused on Northwestern after Ohio State win|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 12 November 2007 13:36|
Back in early October, the Illini headed to Iowa City with a big head of steam, fresh off attention-getting wins over Penn State and Wisconsin, both Top 25 teams. The unranked and underwhelming Hawkeyes beat the Illini, 10-6.
``We learned that lesson the hard way,'' offensive lineman Martin O'Donnell said Monday. ``I know everybody remembers that, and that's something I think is going to be harped on this week.''
The Iowa loss knocked then-No. 18 Illinois out of the Top 25. Saturday's win at put the Illini back in, this time at No. 20. And at 8-3 and 5-2 in conference, the Illini are looking at the prospect of a pretty good bowl bid.
Several hundred Illini fans greeted the team late Saturday night when it flew into Willard Airport just outside Champaign. O'Donnell, a fifth-year senior who said he's much more accustomed to quiet flights home after tough losses, was stunned when he saw them.
Sophomore quarterback Juice Williams was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the week Monday for his four-touchdown performance against the Buckeyes.
And a lot more reporters wanted to speak to coach Ron Zook, said Illinois spokeswoman Cassie Arner.
``I'll be honest with you, I talked to them all last week about what this would be like, if we went up there and did the things we were supposed to do,'' Zook said.
Zook said he'll count on seniors like O'Donnell and linebacker J Leman to keep younger players focused this week on Northwestern.
The Wildcats (6-5, 3-4) are quietly putting together a pretty good season, too. With 10 Big Ten teams bowl eligible -only 1-10 Minnesota has fewer than the minimum six wins - the Wildcats will be looking for a seventh victory to improve their odds of playing in the postseason.
And as Zook pointed out, Illinois hasn't beaten Northwestern since he got here in 2005. Last season's 27-16 loss at Evanston capped a 2-10 season.
The Illini won't have an Ohio State hangover when they run into Memorial Stadium Saturday morning, Leman said.
``We got beat by a team at Iowa that was hungry,'' he said. ``Northwestern, they're going to be hungry, too.''