Northwestern and Illinois finished the regular season on opposite pages, with Pat Fitzgerald's upstart Wildcats sitting at a 9-3 record (5-3 in the Big Ten) and Tim Beckman's Illini losing the last nine games to close out 2012.
But each team featured two players on the 2012 All-Big Ten Conference Football teams.
Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien was the only player from either Illinois team to earn a spot on the First Team, while Wildcats running back Venric Mark and a pair of Illinois linemen -- offensive tackle Hugh Thornton and defensive lineman Michael Buchanan -- earned a spot on the Second Team.
Budzien was fantastic, making 17 of his 18 field goals and made all 46 extra points. The junior kicker converted multiple field goals in five games this year, including a 5-for-5 day against Boston College in the third game of the season.
Mark was everywhere for the Wildcats, rushing for 1,310 yards on a 6.2 average, catching 18 balls for 101 yards, and racking up 637 return yards (282 on punts, 355 on kicks). He also scored 14 touchdowns, 11 rushing, one receiving and two on punt returns.
Buchanan, a senior from Homewood-Flossmoor, recorded 48 tackles (6 for a loss), 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, five passes deflected and one interception.
Illinois defensive tackle Akeem Spence was named as an honorable mention after he netted 61 total tackles (5 for a loss), one sack and one forced fumble.
Northwestern featured four players on the honorable mention list -- Ibraheim Campbell, Brian Mulroe, Tyler Scott and Patrick Ward.
Campbell, a sophomore safety, racked up 81 tackles, two forced fumbles and 11 passes deflected. Scott, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound junior defensive lineman had 35 tackles (8.5 for a loss), seven sacks, three forced fumbles and five passes deflected.
Mulroe, a senior offensive lineman, was named a team captain and was recognized as an honorable mention for the second straight year. Ward attended Providence Catholic and the senior made the switch from right tackle to left tackle in the 2012 season. The two lineman contributed to Northwestern's 238.6 rushing yards per game.