CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -After pulling off a 28-21 upset of top-ranked Ohio State, Illinois' plan to focus on this week's regular-season finale against rival Northwestern can be summed up in one word.
Iowa.
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.''

Recent NCAAF Discussions

Pick Wiz Play 1/15 on Mon, Jan 2017 by Michael Cash
2nd half play ne/hou on Mon, Jan 2017 by Strakey
NFL Championship Betting News and Notes on Mon, Jan 2017 by Blade
Public buries sports books on Mon, Jan 2017 by Blade
NFL WKEND SIDES &OV/UN 8-0 on Mon, Jan 2017 by armyranger
Advertisement

NCAAF Headlines

Advertisement

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail 2018 National Championship Odds Despite losing to Clemson on Monday night, Alabama has opened as the favorites to win the 2018 College Football National Championship.
Thumbnail Title Game Spread Holding Steady After some initial movement, tonight’s college football playoff national championship point spread is holding steady hours before kickoff.
Thumbnail Clemson vs. Alabama Prediction Will Alabama cover tonight against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship or will the Tigers pull off the upset?
Thumbnail Watson/Hurts Championship Props Which impact player will step up tonight in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game? Here’s some notable player prop odds for Clemson and...
Thumbnail CFB Championship Injury Report Will No. 1 Alabamaand No. 2 Clemsoncome into tonight’s College Football Playoff National Championshiphealthy? Here is the latest on the injury report.

NCAAF Team Pages