Saturday, Nov. 18 12:00pm ET
Wildcats roll behind Anderson's four TDs


EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- They danced and celebrated on the field and donned their Big Ten champion shirts and hats. Northwestern's Wildcats routed Illinois 61-23 on Saturday to earn a share of the conference title.

Happy as they were, these Wildcats (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) won't be taking their party to Pasadena.

Lance Clelland
Lance Clelland, left, Zak Kustok and Leon Brockmeier are hoping Northwestern will earn its second trip to Pasadena in five years.

Buoyed by Michigan's 38-26 win over Ohio State, Northwestern needed one more variable for a trip to California -- an Indiana win over Purdue.

The Wildcats didn't get it as the Boilermakers beat the Hoosiers 41-13 to win the berth in the Rose Bowl.

The No. 23 Wildcats (8-3, 6-2) are still contenders for the Citrus, Outback and Alamo bowls, who are expected to make their selections next week.

"We know we're going to a bowl game. We've achieved one of our goals of winning the Big Ten. It's great to be part of history," Damien Anderson said after running for four touchdowns and becoming the school's single-season rushing leader.

"I'd be tickled to death with going anywhere. There are some things you can control, some you can't," said second-year coach Randy Walker, whose team rebounded from a crushing loss at Iowa last week.

Sat, November 18
Given their absolute destruction of Illinois today, the Wildcats are looking back to last week and wondering what went wrong. Randy Walker said Northwestern was going to have to learn how to handle success because they didn't handle it well. Iowa didn't do anything complex to them in last week's win over the Wildcats -- they just played very hard on defense and outhit them.

Northwestern made up for it today in a big way, but it wasn't enough. They were in the unenviable position of waiting for another team to help them out. The Wildcats had a very good year and are co-champs of the Big Ten, but let a golden opportunity for a Rose Bowl bid slip through their fingers. It's a hard lesson but it should help them in the coming years.

"It doesn't matter when we play or where," quarterback Zak Kustok said.

"The big goal for me was to win the Big Ten. We wanted to get that first, then take care of the bowl. We're going to go somewhere warmer than Chicago is.

"If it ends up that Purdue goes to the Rose Bowl, they deserve it. They came in here and beat us head-to-head."

Purdue (8-3, 6-2) beat Northwestern 41-28 on Oct. 14.

Anderson and Kustok ran for two touchdowns apiece as the Wildcats surged to a 28-2 halftime lead on a frigid day when the game-time wind chill factor was 14 degrees. They led 40-2 after three quarters.

The 61 points were Northwestern's most since beating DePauw 62-0 in 1944.

And the Big Ten title is the academic-oriented school's third in six seasons. They won the championship in 1995 before losing to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl and shared the title in 1996 before losing to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.

Kustok's 2-yard carry with 35 seconds remaining capped the first-half scoring and came after Dwayne Missouri blocked a punt by Illinois' Steve Fitts, whose poor kicks of 14 and 35 yards into a strong wind also set up the Wildcats' first two TDS in the opening quarter.

Anderson, who had scoring runs of 21 and 10 yards in the opening half and a pair of 1-yarders in the second half, rushed for 179 yards on 39 carries. He finished with 1,914 yards on 293 carries and passed Darnell Autry for the school record single-season rushing record (1,785 yards set in Northwestern's Rose Bowl season of 1995). He also passed Autry's single-season mark of 18 total touchdowns and has 22 this season.

"Due to the implications of the game, it weights a little more than others," Anderson said. "But my focus has not been that I want to break this record or I want to break this one."

Illinois (5-6, 2-6) completed a frustrating season of close losses and had any bowl chances dashed. The Illinois lost to Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State by a combined 11 points this season. They struggled Saturday with Dustin Ward at quarterback in place of starter Kurt Kittner, who was out with a concussion.

"I felt OK. I saw the defense all right. It just didn't work out," Ward said after completing 20-of-37 passes for 246 yards.

"I felt I was getting more into the game as it went on."

Northwestern took the second half kickoff and went 88 yards, scoring on a fourth-and-1 pass from Kustok to Eric Worley. It was Kustok's 18th TD pass of the season, another single-season school record that allowed him to poises Steve Schnur. He also eclipsed Schnur's single-season total offense record of 2,600 yards set in 1996.

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 Damien Anderson scampers 21 yards for the touchdown.
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 Damien Anderson takes the inside handoff and punches it in for a 10-yard TD.
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 Zak Kustok breaks the Northwestern record for passing TD's with a 1-yard toss to Eric Worley.
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 Illinois' Eugene Wilson comes up to deliver one of the year's hardest hits.
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 A blown snap by the Northwestern punt team leads to an Illinois safety.
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 A co-Big Ten championship and 4 TD's, Damien Anderson wants to cherish the moment.
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 Coach Randy Walker on his team's commitment in winning a share of the Big Ten title.
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