NU beats Iowa 14-10 to clinch Big Ten West and Title Game birth

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

IOWA CITY—Isaiah Bowser ran for 165 yards and a touchdown and Northwestern upset Iowa 14-10 on Saturday to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship.The Wildcats (6-4, 6-1) will now await their opponent for the league title game in Indianapolis next month.Bennett Skowronek’s 32-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the Wildcats a 14-10 lead.After a first half that yielded just three total points on a field goal from Iowa kicker Miguel Recinos, the scoring ramped up in the second.Bowser hit a hole for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game.After Recinos missed a field goal to respond, Iowa safety Jake Gervase intercepted Clayton Thorson’s pass off a tip.Iowa cashed in just two plays later with Nate Stanley’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Ihmir Smith-Marsette.The Hawkeyes had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth, but NU’s Cameron Ruiz forced Mekhi Sargent to fumble, and the Wildcats jumped on it.Iowa had one final chance with under two minutes to go, but another fumble by Ivory Kelly-Martin ended the Hawkeyes’ chances.Stanley threw for 269 yards and a touchdown for Iowa (6-4, 3-4), losers of three straight.Folks might chide the Big Ten for having a four or even five-loss team represent the league in its championship game. But the fact of the matter is that the Wildcats are 6-1 in the conference for the first time since 1996, when they won nine games and played in the Citrus Bowl.What a disastrous turn of events in Iowa City. Three weeks ago, fans were wondering if this was one of the most talented teams coach Kirk Ferentz has ever had. Now they’re simply hoping to finish above .500 in the Big Ten.Next, Northwestern faces Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Huskers overpower Illini 54-35

Illinois Fighting Illini

LINCOLN—Nebraska’s high-powered offense made Illinois pay for its many mistakes Saturday.The Cornhuskers converted four of the Illini’s five turnovers into 24 points while pulling away for a 54-35 win, their third in four games after an 0-6 start.The Huskers (3-7, 2-5 Big Ten) did plenty right. Wearing alternate uniforms to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Huskers rolled up 606 total yards on a raw afternoon when the wind chill dipped to 13 degrees. Illinois amassed 509 yards in the meeting of the Big Ten’s worst defenses.

”There early on in the game, watching our offense executing, man, it’s fun calling plays; it was a thing of beauty,” Frost said. ”Those guys were executing everything we were calling.”

Adrian Martinez threw for 290 yards and accounted for four touchdowns and Devine Ozigbo ran for 162 yards and three scores.Illinois (4-6, 2-5) had three turnovers in the first half – two muffed punts and a fumble by quarterback AJ Bush. Those led to 17 points for Nebraska, which led 38-21 at half.Bush moved the Illini into Nebraska territory on the opening series of the second half but was intercepted when his pass went through Dominic Stampley’s hands into safety Aaron Williams’. The Huskers embarked on a 17-play, 82-yard drive that chewed nearly 8 minutes off the clock, with Ozigbo scoring his second touchdown for a 24-point lead.

”When you turn the ball over like that, it’s tough to win,” Illini coach Lovie Smith said. ”When you continue to give up big runs on the defensive side of the football, run and pass, it’s tough duty. When you have a couple mishaps like we did in the special teams game against a team like this at home, it’s tough to win.”

Martinez was 24 of 34 and threw for three touchdowns, and he ran 13 times for 55 yards and a TD. His 345 yards of total offense pushed his season total to a school freshman-record 2,747.Ozigbo broke a career-long 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and went 60 yards for another TD in the fourth.Bush, playing against the school where he spent the first two years of his college career, threw for 126 yards but was intercepted twice. Nebraska couldn’t stop Bush as a runner, though. He rushed for a school quarterback-record 187 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.

”It’s cool, but I didn’t get the most important stat I wanted,” Bush said. ”You ball out, but LeBron scores 60 and they lose. It’s like that.”

Five turnovers can’t be overcome when the defense has no answer for an offense that’s rolling like Nebraska’s. It was the second straight week the Illini have had three or more turnovers and third time in four games.Ozigbo is 42 yards short of becoming the Huskers’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014. … Stanley Morgan Jr. caught eight passes for 131 yards and two TDs and moved to No. 2 on the school’s all-time receiving list behind Kenny Bell. … Illinois’ 383 rushing yards were its second-most this season behind the 430 against Minnesota last week…..The Illini’s Reggie Corbin, who ran for a career-high 213 yards against Minnesota, left with an injury in the middle of the second quarter. He ran nine times for 59 yards and caught one pass for 34 yards. He favored his right leg as he was helped off.

Hawks goal slump continues with 4-0 loss to Flyers, 0-2 under Colliton.

PHILADELPHIA—Sean Couturier had two goals and an assist, Brian Elliott made 33 saves and the surging Philadelphia Flyers continued their dominance over Blackhawks in Philadelphia with a 4-0 victory over the slumping Blackhawks on Saturday.Claude Giroux tallied a goal and two assists and Nolan Patrick added an empty-netter for the Flyers, who have won five of six overall and 15 in a row at home in the regular season against the Blackhawks.Of course the Hawks did win game six of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Title in May 2010. The Hawks last won a regular-season game in Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 1996.The Blackhawks have lost six straight games and two in a row under coach Jeremy Colliton. The 33-year-old Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville, the NHL’s second-winningest regular-season coach who was fired on Tuesday after 10 seasons at the helm.

”We’re doing some good things,” Colliton said. ”I just would like to see that sustained a little more.”

Elliott was solid all game and made some key saves in the third period, including stopping Patrick Kane from close range on a Blackhawks power play, while recording his 38th career shutout. He also denied Dominik Kahun and Nick Schmaltz on shots from the slot that came right after the other early in the third.It was the second straight strong performance for Elliott, who denied all 16 shots he faced in relief of Calvin Pickard in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win over Arizona.Giroux staked the Flyers to a 1-0 lead with 5:04 left in the first period when he took advantage of a turnover. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith’s clearing attempt from the end boards went right to Giroux, who faked a forehand shot before beating Corey Crawford with a backhander from the slot.The lead was two goals with 11:06 left in the second when Couturier used his backhand to score on a breakaway just as time expired on a Hawk power play. Giroux passed ahead to Couturier, who had one step on Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz.And Couturier made it 3-0 with 15:43 left in the third when his centering pass went off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning and over the goal line.

”We’re making little mistakes here and there,” Jonathan Toews said. ”We need to be better after we give up goals.”

Said Crawford, ”It seems like there are always tough stretches during the season. We just have to dig our way out of it.”

Hawks fire all time winningest Coach Quenneville

It’s the end of an era with the Blackhawks, as coach Joel Quenneville was fired by the club on Tuesday morning as the team announced a flurry of staffing changes. Coach Q had been behind the bench with the Hawks since 2008, making him the longest-tenured coach in the NHL. He’ll be replaced by Jeremy Colliton, who becomes the 38th coach in Blackhawks franchise history.

“This is certainly a very difficult decision. But I believe it is in the best interests of the Blackhawks organization,” said Hawks general manager Stan Bowman in a written statement. “We need to maximize each and every opportunity with our playoff goals in mind and create continued growth and development throughout our roster at the same time.After much deliberation the last several days, with great respect to what Joel has meant to the Blackhawks, we knew we had to make a change.”

In addition to Quenneville’s firing, the club also parted ways with assistant coaches Kevin Dineen and Ulf Samuelsson, and brought in Barry Smith to serve as an assistant coach under Colliton.The 33-year-old Colliton will leave his post as coach of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and become the youngest head coach in the NHL. He last played in the NHL in 2011 for the New York Islanders.Quenneville, 60, led the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups titles in a six-year span, leading many to dub the team as a modern day dynasty. However, they haven’t won a playoff series since their 2015 championship run, and they missed the playoffs completely last season for the first time under Coach Q’s reign. After finishing last season seventh in the Central division, the Blackhawks have gotten off to a mediocre start to this year’s campaign. Through their first 15 games under Quenneville, they went 6-6-3 and have been the third-worst defensive team in the league.Quenneville departs as the second-winningest coach in Blackhawks history with a franchise record of 452-249-96 in 797 games. He also is the second-winningest coach in NHL history with an all-time record of 890-532-214, and he likely won’t be out of a job long.

Bears blow out Bills 41-9

ORCHARD PARK—Linebacker Khalil Mack broke into a wide grin when it was pointed out the Bears defense didn’t need him for a second straight week.

”Ha, I might be looking for another job here soon,” Mack joked.

Sidelined by a right ankle injury, Mack had plenty of reason to joke.He had just finished watching his teammates force four turnovers, including two returned for touchdowns 3 1/2 minutes apart in the second quarter of a 41-9 rout over the Bills in what proved to be another comedy of errors for Buffalo’s anemic offense on Sunday.Sandwiched between Jordan Howard’s two touchdown runs, Eddie Jackson scored on a 65-yard fumble return and Leonard Floyd returned a tipped pass during Chicago’s decisive 28-point second-quarter surge.

”It’s always great to go out and perform the way we did,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. ”We definitely did focus on getting the ball out, and we knew when they do come, they come in bunches. So that was one of the main things.”

The only disappointment, perhaps, was becoming Buffalo’s first opponent in three weeks to give up a Bills touchdown. It didn’t happen until quarterback Nathan Peterman scored on a 1-yard run with 5:41 left.It was the first TD run the Bears have allowed this season, and it ended the Bills’ touchdown drought at 187 minutes and 19 seconds – dating to Peterman’s 16-yard pass to Zay Jones in a 20-13 loss at Houston on Oct. 14.The Bears, coming off a 24-10 win over the New York Jets, won their second in a row and improved to 5-3 to match their best start to a season through eight games since 2013.And the Bears are winning without Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who was acquired in a trade from Oakland just before the start of the season.The Bills are going from bad to worse in losing their fourth straight, and dropping to 2-7 – their worst record through nine games since a 1-8 start in 2010.Buffalo hasn’t topped 10 points five times this season, and the four turnovers were one short of a season-worst. The Bills had five in a 37-5 loss at Indianapolis two weeks ago.

Irish hold off Cats 31-21

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—#3 Notre Dame looked as if it was running away with another victory, leading by 17 points early in the fourth quarter.It turned out the Fighting Irish needed one more big dash to secure it.Ian Book threw two touchdown passes and ran 23 yards for a score in the closing minutes to lead Notre Dame to a 31-21 victory over Northwestern on Saturday night.The Fighting Irish (9-0, No. 4 CFP) remained in line for a playoff spot and continued to build on their best start since the 2012 team went undefeated before losing to Alabama in the BCS championship game. The Wildcats (5-4) had won four in a row to grab the Big Ten West lead and they stayed in this one when it looked like Notre Dame was ready to pull away.Book threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Miles Boykin in the corner of the end zone and a 47-yarder to Michael Young in the third to put the Irish ahead a 21-7. He sealed it in the closing minutes with that 23-yard run untouched up the left side, after a 17-point lead early in the fourth shrank to three.

”It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” Book said. ”It’s hard to win in November. We’re in such a good situation, and we know that, but I think this team does such a good job of focusing one week at a time. Everyone’s excited, but everyone’s just ready for Florida State (next week).”

The Irish were in a similar spot last season, only to stumble down the stretch. They were No. 3 in the first two playoff rankings en route to an 8-1 start, only to go 2-2 the rest of the way – beginning with a blowout loss to Miami.

”We didn’t do a good job of just staying focused,” linebacker Te’Von Coney said. ”We looked too far ahead and it cost us. This year, we have to stay in the moment; that’s the key.”

It was 24-7 early in the fourth when Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson threw a 27-yard touchdown to Riley Lees. Cameron Ruiz then blocked a punt by Tyler Newsome, giving the Wildcats possession on the Notre Dame 17. That led to a 1-yard sneak by Thorson, cutting it to 24-21 with 7:05 left.

”I could say we relaxed a little bit, but I think it was just Northwestern throwing their last punch,” defensive end Julian Okwara said.

Either way, Notre Dame didn’t get rattled.

”They’ve been like that all year,” coach Brian Kelly said. ”They just play one play at a time. They don’t get too high, they don’t get too low. They knew in the second half they needed to play much better football, especially offensively.”

Book improved to 6-0 as the starter, going 22 of 34 for 343 yards. Chase Claypool had eight receptions for 130 yards, and Dexter Williams ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the first quarter.The Wildcats haven’t beaten a top-five opponent since 1959, when Ara Parseghian was their coach. Though they are 0-3 in nonconference games, they still lead their division.Thorson was 16 of 29 for 141 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for two TDs. Isaiah Bowser added 93 yards rushing on 23 attempts after back-to-back 100-yard games.

”Best atmosphere I’ve ever played in at Ryan Field,” right guard Tommy Doles said. ”We were really excited about this game so it’s very disappointing. But all our goals are ahead of us. We set out to win the West and that’s what we plan to do.”

Both teams missed some big scoring opportunities in the first half. The Irish were also hurt by penalties.Northwestern blew a big chance after linebacker Blake Gallagher recovered a fumble by Book on the game’s opening possession. The Wildcats took over at the Notre Dame 35, only to come away empty-handed when Charlie Kuhbander missed a 39-yard field goal wide right.The Irish then went 79 yards, with Williams plowing in from the 1 to give them a 7-0 lead and delight the fans in blue and gold. But they also missed a big chance late in the quarter. Two penalties helped drive them back from the NU 5 to the 27 before Justin Yoon’s 44-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.Northwestern tied it midway through the second quarter when Thorson scored from the 1. Bennett Skowronek kept the drive going with a one-handed grab on fourth-and-5 at the Notre Dame 21, and the Irish’s Jalen Elliott got flagged for interference breaking up a pass intended for Cameron Green in the end zone.

Bears snap two game skid with 24-10 over Jets

The Bears got the win they sorely needed, only to lose another key player.Guard Kyle Long had to be helped off the field in the closing minutes with an injured right foot, putting a damper on a 24-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.Mitchell Trubisky threw for two touchdowns, and the Bears (4-3) came out on top after dropping two in a row to fall out of the NFC North lead. But they might have to get by without their three-time Pro Bowl lineman after Long was injured in the closing minutes. That was another hit for a team that was already missing star pass rusher star pass rusher Khalil Mack (right ankle) and No. 1 receiver Allen Robinson (groin).Long was hurt when tight end Dion Sims rolled into him as the two were blocking for Jordan Howard on a run, adding to a long list of injuries for the star lineman.He had surgery on his right ankle following the 2016 season and operations on his shoulder, elbow and neck after he was shut down late last year. Coach Matt Nagy said the team will know more about Long’s latest injury in the next few days.

”Can’t say enough about Kyle, how much he loves this organization,” Trubisky said. ”To see a guy go down like that, it hurts. We’ll just try to pick him up and rally behind him any way we can. He knows we love him and we’re just gonna hope for the best.”


Though the Bears were missing their best defensive player, Sam Darnold struggled and the Jets (3-5) managed just 207 yards in losing their second straight game.Trubisky was shaky but did enough to help the Bears come out on top. He connected with Tarik Cohen for a 70-yard touchdown on a screen in the first quarter and threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Anthony Miller in the third, making it 14-3. But the second-year pro was wild again after struggling with his control against New England the previous week.Trubisky was 16 of 29 for 220 yards. He also ran for 51 on six attempts.Cohen’s lone reception was the big touchdown. He also ran for 40 yards on five carries.He ran for 81 yards and a touchdown. He scored from the 2 to make it 24-10 midway through the fourth quarter, sealing the win after tight losses to Miami and the Patriots.Coming off his worst game as a pro with three interceptions, Darnold was 14 of 29 for a career-low 153 yards in his eighth NFL start. On the plus side, he did not throw an interception in this one.The Bears grabbed a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Cohen turned a screen from Trubisky against an all-out blitz into a 70-yard touchdown. It was the longest play from scrimmage by the Bears this season.

”It was just a great call by the offensive staff,” Cohen said. ”We ran the screen into a blitz and usually that’s a good thing. When I turned upfield, I just didn’t see anybody. I was kind of nervous not to see anybody and I just saw green grass so I took it.”


Nagy said Mack’s status was ”literally hour to hour” before the Bears decided in the morning not to suit him up, and they hope to have him playing next week. The two-time All-Pro missed his first game since Oakland drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2014.

NU upsets Badgers 31-17 to lead Big Ten West by 1 1/2 games

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—This was no narrow escape for Northwesten against a struggling opponent. Not this weekend.The Wildcats took out one of the Big Ten’s heavyweights and strengthened their chance for a spot in the conference championship game.Clayton Thorson ran for two touchdowns and threw for one, and Northwestern beat No. 20 Wisconsin 31-17 on Saturday.The first-place Wildcats (5-3, 5-1) solidified themselves as contenders for the Big Ten West championship while gaining some revenge for a loss at Camp Randall Stadium early last season that helped prevent them from winning the division.They increased their lead over the Badgers (5-3, 3-2), Purdue and Iowa to 1 1/2 games. The Boilermakers lost 23-13 at Michigan State, while the Hawkeyes came up short at No. 17 Penn State 30-24.With quarterback Alex Hornibrook sidelined by a concussion and the defense without several injured starters, it was simply a rough afternoon for Wisconsin. Northwestern turned two fumbles by star running back Jonathan Taylor and another by quarterback Jack Coan into 17 points on the way to its fourth straight victory.The Wildcats went on a 17-0 run in the second half after rallying to beat then-winless Nebraska in overtime and topping struggling Rutgers by three last weekend.

”Around here, a lot of times we’re called the Cardiac `Cats,” Thorson said. ”I don’t know how much we like that name. But we haven’t given anyone any reason not to call us that so it’s nice to get a win like that.”

Northwestern struggled early on for the second straight season. Now, the Wildcats have their sights set on their first appearance in a Big Ten championship game.

”I think our team is starting to improve,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ”I think we’re growing up. There were some growing pains there early. … I think these guys have had faith. They just stayed the course, had belief and are getting a reward for that effort. They can’t stop now.”

Thorson was a bit shaky again after struggling in a narrow win at Rutgers. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 167 yards with three interceptions against a short-handed defense. But he ran for two TDs in the first half and found Kyric McGowan for a 24-yard score in the third quarter.Freshman Isaiah Bowser had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 117 on 34 attempts. He scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth, making it 31-10 after Coan fumbled deep in Badgers territory .

Terps overpower struggling Illini 63-33

Illinois Fighting Illini

COLLEGE PARK—Maryland opened up its passing game and fortified an already formidable running attack with seldom-used Javon Leake.The result was a feel-good 63-33 rout over Illinois, one that was definitely worth singing about well into Saturday night.Leake rushed for three touchdowns and scored on a 97-yard kickoff return , Kasim Hill had the best passing game of his career and Maryland held the Fighting Illini without a touchdown until late in the third quarter.Leake is the first Maryland player to score four TDs in a game since D.J. Adams in the 2010 Military Bowl. Leake, a sophomore, finished with 140 yards rushing, including scores of 64, 27 and 43 yards.The victory left the Terrapins (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) one win short of becoming bowl eligible, no small feat for a team that was rocked by the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and has been playing under Canada since August.Despite of the uncertainty surrounding the program, Maryland has already exceeded its win total (4) from last year.The probe began soon after McNair collapsed on the practice field and died of heatstroke in June. The report is complete. Now, after the commission determined there are problems with the culture of the program, the school and the football team await the fallout.Reggie Corbin ran for 155 yards and a touchdown for the Fighting Illini (3-5, 1-4). Illinois had yielded 158 points during a three-game skid, and its streak of forcing a turnover in 21 consecutive games came to an end.

”It’s kind of beyond words the feelings we have right now,” coach Lovie Smith said. ”There’s been some cracks that we’ve seen, but not like this. We knew what was at stake, just thought we would play a lot better. I thought our preparation was good, but as you can see it was not.”

Starting quarterback M.J. Rivers was knocked from the game in the second quarter on a hit by Tre Watson, who was ejected for targeting. Rivers went 3 for 13 for 45 yards.Leake’s kickoff return and 64-yard run, along with two touchdown passes by Hill , provided Maryland with a 28-9 halftime lead. The Terrapins tacked on three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 27-yard run by Leake and Hill’s third touchdown pass.Hill was removed from the game late in the third quarter with the score 49-19. He went 11 for 19 for a career-high 265 yards, and his three TD passes tied a career best.Playing Illinois for the first time, Maryland set a school record for most points in a Big Ten game since joining the conference in 2014. The Terps finished with 712 yards in offense.It was a redemptive performance for a team that mustered only 115 yards one week earlier in a 23-0 loss to Iowa.Watson leads the Terps in tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions, but this is the second time he’s been booted for targeting.Watson played three seasons for Illinois before coming to Maryland this year.

Irish overmatch Navy to stay unbeaten

SAN DIEGO—No. 3 Notre Dame got off to an inauspicious start against Navy when top receiver Miles Boykin fumbled after a catch on the first play from scrimmage.Book threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns, and Dexter Williams ran for 142 yards and three scores.Notre Dame is 8-0 for the first time since 2012, when it remained undefeated until being routed by Alabama in the BCS national title game.ND had 584 yards of total offense as it extended its dominance in the oldest continual intersectional rivalry to 78-13-1.Playing in San Diego for the first time, Notre Dame used its superior size and talent to take a 27-0 lead just before halftime. While the defense kept Navy’s triple option in check, Book kept the Midshipmen off-balance with lots of play-action. He completed 27 of 33 passes, to 10 receivers. He threw one interception.Book, from El Dorado Hills near Sacramento, improved to 5-0 since replacing Brandon Wimbush as the starter. Book threw touchdown passes of 4 and 22 yards to Boykin to in the second half.Notre Dame did that by scoring on four of its next five possessions. JaFar Armstrong had a 1-yard scoring run, and Williams then had touchdown runs of 12, 9 and 2 yards. Williams carried 23 times.Navy (2-6), which lost its fifth straight, finally broke through thanks to some big plays that led to Zach Abey scoring two 1-yard touchdowns in the third quarter. Book was intercepted early in the fourth quarter, setting up a 33-yard touchdown run by Mike Martin.Malcolm Perry had 133 yards on 12 carries.The game, which drew a crowd of 63,626 to SDCCU Stadium, was promoted by the San Diego Bowl Game Association.