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At Wrigley Field, Illinois and Northwestern are two teams going in the same direction

The usual practice of using both end zones of a football field runs into a brick wall — the too-tight confines of a baseball stadium.

November 21, 2010|By Mike Hiserman, Los Angeles Times

Not since the Chicago Bears left after the 1970 NFL season had football been played at Wrigley Field. And now we know why.

When Northwestern played host to Illinois on Saturday, both teams shared one sideline — switching places after halftime — and all offensive plays headed in the same direction, west.

This might be how the game looks on a one-goal-post sandlot field, but it's unusual for a regular-season Big Ten Conference game.

The Associated Press reported that the game looked like a "pigskin version of 'Groundhog Day.' "

It was played that way because, after months of planning for the Wrigleyville Classic, Big Ten officials declared less than 36 hours before kickoff that there wasn't enough room between the east end zone and the brick wall in what is right field in the baseball configuration.

The Bears never had that problem because their games were played before baseball's Cubs added seats along the first- and third-base lines, prompting the east-west layout instead of the old north-south.

Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure might have set a record for yards rushing in one direction, gaining 330 yards in a 48-27 victory. If nothing else, it was good enough for a school record and a high for this college football season.

However, the hero of the east end zone bleacher bums was Northwestern's Brian Peters. He intercepted a pass in the first quarter and thereby became the only user of the east end zone.

More from the ballpark

Notre Dame and Army played at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, as close as you can get these days to the place where they played some of the greatest games in college football history, including the teams' 1946 classic, a 0-0 tie dubbed the "Game of the Century."

The Fighting Irish extended their winning streak in the series to 14 games with a 27-3 victory.

Yankee Stadium will be a regular site for college football for the next few years. Army has three regular-season games scheduled there in the next four years, and the first Pinstripe Bowl — matching teams from the Big 12 and Big East conferences — will be played Dec. 30.

'The sweep'

Harvard defeated Yale, 28-21, in the 127th edition of "The Game."

The Crimson has won four straight — this senior class is just the second in more than a century to sweep Yale — and nine of the last 10 games in the Ivy League rivalry.

Big Ten bully?

Is Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema trying to become a Big Ten villain?

After the Badgers' first victory over Michigan at Ann Arbor since 1994, he said, "What we do isn't pretty. A lot of places, there's a certain emphasis on being pretty and being individualized on players."

The comment was taken as a thinly veiled shot at Michigan, especially when he followed up with this after being asked about Denard Robinson's 360 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort: "For them, that's great. We would never recruit to that."

Ouch. This from a coach who was accused of running up the score against hapless Minnesota in October and whose team scored 83 points against Indiana in its last game.

Robinson ran for 121 yards and passed for 239, becoming the first player in NCAA history with 1,500 yards rushing and 1,500 passing in a season. He has passed for 2,229 yards and run for 1,538, a record for a major-college quarterback.

Bits and pieces

Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs ran for three touchdowns in a 35-19 win over Arkansas State, giving him an NCAA-record 40 rushing touchdowns over successive seasons. He has 48 in his career. … After starting the season with losses to Boise State and James Madison, Virginia Tech has won nine straight and has outscored opponents, 335-154. … Oklahoma State's 48-14 win over Kansas gave the Cowboys the first 10-win season in their 110-year football history. They also are the first Big 12 South team other than Texas or Oklahoma to advance to the conference title game since 1998. … Syracuse, No. 1 Oregon and No. 3 Boise State are the only teams in the nation with five wins on the road. But after a loss to Connecticut, the Orange is 0-3 in Big East Conference games at home.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

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