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Northwestern Earns Its Share

November 19, 2000|From Associated Press

They danced and celebrated on the field, donned their Big Ten Conference-champion shirts and hats and then headed for the television to see if Pasadena would be on their itinerary for the holidays.

No. 23 Northwestern did all it could to win a trip back to the Rose Bowl, routing Illinois, 61-23, on Saturday at Evanston, Ill., to earn a share of the conference championship.

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

Unfortunately for Northwestern, Purdue beat Indiana.

"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.

Northwestern is 8-3 overall and finished 6-2 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are contenders for berths in the Citrus, Outback and Alamo bowls, which are expected to make their selections next week.

"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 loss at Iowa last week.

"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."

Anderson and Kustok each ran for two touchdowns 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.

Northwestern won a share of its third Big Ten title in five years. Northwestern won the championship in 1995 before losing to USC in the Rose Bowl and shared the title in 1996 before losing to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.

Minnesota 27, Iowa 24--Jermaine Mays scored the winning touchdown on an 81-yard touchdown-pass play in the fourth quarter at Minneapolis.

"All I had to do was keep running hard and make sure I didn't drop it," Mays said of the winning catch.

The victory gives Minnesota (6-5, 4-4 in the Big Ten) a bowl bid, probably to the Bowl, Dec. 28 in Miami.

Minnesota Coach Glen Mason said he doesn't care if the Gophers are sent to Miami, though that's their most likely destination. The Big Ten has six bowl slots and only six eligible teams. The Bowl, which includes a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference, has the sixth selection of Big Ten teams.

"I've been to a lot of bowls," Mason said. "I've never been to a bad one."

Travis Cole passed for 299 yards, completing nine of his last 12 passes. He also hooked up with Ron Johnson for two touchdown pass plays in the second half.

Iowa (3-9, 3-5) nearly became a spoiler for the third week in a row. Iowa victories prevented Northwestern from taking control of the Rose Bowl race and Penn State from becoming eligible for a bowl game.

Penn State 42, Michigan State 23--Rashard Casey passed for three touchdowns and ran for two to lead the Nittany Lions at State College, Pa.

"You've heard me say it--you've just to hang in there when it's going bad, because sooner or later it's going to even up," Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said.

Paterno recorded his 322nd career victory to move within one of the major college record held by former Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

The Nittany Lions avoided recording what would have been only the second eight-loss season in school history. Penn State's 5-7 record is the worst since Paterno became coach in 1966. The Nittany Lions will not play in a bowl game for only the fifth time since Paterno became coach.

The loss left Michigan State (5-6, 2-6) ineligible for bowl consideration.

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