The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Sports

November 23, 2013

Big Ten football Trophy, first league win at stake for Illinois, Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Big Ten season hasn’t been anything to brag about for Illinois and Purdue.

The Boilermakers haven’t won since the season-opener. The Fighting Illini have lost six straight games in the Big Ten.

Somebody’s lengthy losing streak will come to an end today when the Illini (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten) visit the Boilermakers (1-9, 0-6) for Purdue’s Senior Day.

In a 45-21 loss to Penn State last week, the Boilermakers scored more points than they had in the three prior games combined. Illinois has found ways to score. Still, both have two of the worst defenses in the Big Ten.

“Should be an exciting contest,” Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said. “They do a great job offensively. Just watch their numbers and you watch them play, and they do a great job of spreading the offense.”

The Boilermakers and Fighting Illini will play for the Cannon trophy before Illinois wraps up the season with Northwestern and Purdue visits Indiana.

Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is 104-of-159 passing with 1,059 yards and five touchdowns in the past three games. He is four yards away from moving into second in school history and No. 10 in Big Ten history in total offense. Scheelhaase just wants to lead is team to its first Big Ten win of the season.

“I think we’ve prepared every week like it should be the week,” Scheelhaase said. “I’ve really been feeling the last three weeks we’ve been preparing like champions. Hopefully at the end of the 60 minutes on Saturday, we’ll come out with a win.”

The game is a reunion for head coaches Hazell and Tim Beckman of Illinois. They coached together while at Ohio State. Hazell coached the wide receivers and Beckman coached the defensive backs. Both moved on and coached in the Mid-American Conference. In 2011, Bechman was at Toledo while Hazell was at Kent State before Bechman took the top job at Illinois.

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