Wildcats roll Illini in regular season finale


Wildcats roll Illini in regular season finale

EVANSTON, Ill. Never mind the rivalry game for a minute. The Northwestern Wildcats wanted to make another statement. By reaching their ninth victory of the season, the Wildcats could lock up a berth in a New Years Day bowl game.

And Northwestern responded to the challenge with a rout of its in-state rival.

Eight different players scored for the Wildcats, who reached nine victories for the first time since 2008. The next test for the Wildcats is to snap their nine-game losing
streak in bowl games.

Nine wins is a great year. Ten is special, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. To be a bowl champion could be a great exclamation point.

The Outback, Capital One and Gator bowl games have been mentioned as possibilities for the Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten).

Were going to play on the road. Were going to play in Florida somewhere. Were going to play an SEC team in their backyard and were going to be the underdog by 75 points, Fitzgerald said, drawing laughter.

We play the best of the best. We have in the past and weve gone toe to toe with them. Its going to take our best preparation for whoever we get the privilege to play. I promise that our guys will be fired up and excited for it.

After routing Illinois (2-10, 0-8) on Saturday, the Wildcats were excited about reclaiming the Land of Lincoln Trophy. Quarterback Kain Colter said lifting the heavy, hat-shaped trophy was a workout.

Its a rivalry game, so you definitely want bragging rights, said Colter, who completed 9 of 11 passes for 102 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown. I havent beaten them since Ive been here, he said. We really wanted to get this one and get back on track and finish this season up right, and especially do it for our seniors.

Northwestern claimed the rivalry victory after a slow start. Illinois scored on the game-opening drive, marching 78 yards on 11 plays. The Illini later cut the lead to 24-14 on backup quarterback Reilly OTooles 12-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter.

You look at the way we tackled early, it was pathetic and gave them some opportunities to make some plays, Fitzgerald said. But Nathan is an outstanding quarterback. They have weapons across the board and made some plays early. We felt like that was the worst half of football we played in a month, and the only way its going to get fixed is if we do something about it. Our team went out there in the second half and dominated the way we should have dominated from the start.

Northwestern was especially efficient running the ball, finishing with 338 yards on the ground. Venric Mark ran for a game-high 127 yards and a touchdown. Six players scored touchdowns on offense for the Wildcats. Jeff Budzien kicked 44- and 36-yard field goals. Hes 17 of 18 on field goals this season.

We have a motto. Its: Everybody eats, Colter said. Everybody wants a taste of the end zone. Thats one thats kind of developed since I got here. Everybodys competing. Everybody wants to get on the field.

As for defense, Northwestern forced four turnovers, including three interceptions.

After the Wildcats stressed better play in the second half, they scored early in the third quarter on Colter's 15-yard touchdown pass to Tyris Jones. Northwestern turned the game into a rout on Colters 24-yard touchdown pass to the wide-open Paul Jorgensen from Colter for a 41-14 lead.

He was lined up at left tackle and he ends up running down the field wide open, Colter said. Its a good feeling to get an offensive lineman six points. We were pretty excited about that. Its something weve repped in practice.

After another Illinois interception, Mike Trumpy scored on a 3-yard run for a 48-14 lead. Northwestern recorded a safety with 3 minutes left.

Now the Wildcats are focused on a bowl victory.

We havent gotten the job done yet, defensive end Quentin Williams said. Its hard to diagnose a problem when it goes on for that long, but I dont think we have that problem this year. I think we can finally set that legacy and do what we do out there.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Kyle Schwarber's impact on offense


Cubs Talk Podcast: Kyle Schwarber's impact on offense

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Todd Hollandworth and Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg break down the Cubs' Game 2 win over the Indians in the World Series.

The guys discuss Jake Arrieta’s dominant performance, how the Cubs chased Trevor Bauer out of the game early, and just how impressive Kyle Schwarber has been in the opening two games.

Check out the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast below: 

Indians expect to bounce back from sloppy World Series Game 2 loss to Cubs

Indians expect to bounce back from sloppy World Series Game 2 loss to Cubs

CLEVELAND -- Their pitchers walked eight Cubs hitters. The offense didn’t manage a hit off Jake Arrieta until the sixth inning. And the defense was a wreck.

For the first time all postseason, the Cleveland Indians looked uncharacteristically sloppy on Wednesday night. But shortly after a 5-1 loss to the Cubs in Game 2 of the World Series in front of 38,172 at Progressive Field, the Indians said they’d quickly turn the page on only their second postseason loss. The teams split the opening pair and will workout on Thursday before returning to action on Friday night in Game 3 at Wrigley Field.

“We gave up nine hits, eight walks, two errors, and we only gave up five runs,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We’re probably pretty fortunate because there was traffic all night. For us to win, we generally need to play a clean game, and we didn’t do that.”

Cleveland would be best served to erase Wednesday’s contest from the memory banks entirely.

A rough all-around evening began in the top of the first inning when Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall threw to second base instead of hitting the cutoff man on Anthony Rizzo’s one-out double, which allowed Kris Bryant to score on a potentially close play at the plate. It represented the Cubs’ first World Series lead since they won Game 6 of the 1945 Fall Classic on a 12th-inning RBI double by Stan Hack.

Four innings later, Chisenhall slipped on Ben Zobrist’s RBI triple into the right-field corner as the Cubs began to pull away. Kipnis also committed the first of his two errors later in the fifth inning, which led to a run. And Kipnis dropped a relay throw from Francisco Lindor in an attempt to get a force out in the seventh inning -- “I cost him a top-10 highlight,” Kipnis said.

The Indians only committed one error in their previous nine postseason games before Kipnis doubled that output on Wednesday.

“It was a bad game, for me at least,” Kipnis said. “I’ve had ‘em before. I’ll have a short memory on it. It’s not the end of the world. That one (error) cost us a run. The other one didn’t. All I can do is have a short memory and move on.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

The bloody finger-incident aside, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer only had one shorter start (Aug. 3 versus Minnesota) all season than he did in Game 2. Cubs hitters worked deep counts early on to drive up Bauer’s pitch count to 51 after only two innings. Ahead 1-0, the Cubs took advantage of a two-out walk in the third by Anthony Rizzo when Bauer couldn’t put the slugger away despite getting ahead 0-2 in the count. Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber followed with singles to make it a 2-0 game.

Bauer, who lasted 3 2/3 innings, walked two as did relievers Bryan Shaw and Danny Salazar, though the latter hadn’t pitched since Sept. 9. The performance was atypical for a staff that brought a 1.58 postseason ERA into the game.

“We've been able to do (bounce back) all year,” Bauer said. “We've had guys go down, guys have bad starts, good starts. Someone struggles at the plate and someone picks it up. That's what a good team does.”

The Indians had one early opportunity against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta and didn’t take advantage. Arrieta issued a pair of two-out walks in the first inning, but Jose Ramirez just missed on a 3-1 fastball and flew out to deep center.

Despite what Joe Maddon described as “scattered” command, Arrieta held Cleveland hitless until Kipnis doubled with one out in the sixth. By that time, the Indians trailed 5-0. Kipnis advanced on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch. But Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman combined to strike out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Arrieta exited.

Napoli said he thinks the Indians would shake off only their second loss in 10 playoff games.

“We're a confident group,” Napoli said. “We didn't think we were just going to come in here and steamroll the Cubs. They're a great ball club. We're going to sleep this one off and get off to a good workout tomorrow and get back after it again.”