Irish smoked by USC in Regular Season Finale

LOS ANGELES—After a tumultuous season of last-second losses and big-game disappointments, Southern California took the Coliseum field playing only for respect and history against Notre Dame.

That’s more than enough motivation in this famed rivalry, and Cody Kessler put his name into Irish football lore while he led the Trojans’ romp.

Kessler passed for 372 yards and threw two of his six touchdown passes to George Farmer, propelling USC to a 49-14 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday in the 85th edition of the intersectional matchup.

Adoree Jackson, Darreus Rogers and Nelson Agholor also caught TD passes in a dynamic first half for the Trojans (8-4), who jumped to a 35-0 lead in the second quarter and spent the second half celebrating a big finish to a wild autumn.

”When everyone is in tune, this offense is capable of anything,” Kessler said. ”You saw it today.”

USC easily reclaimed the Jeweled Shillelagh after two straight losses to the Irish, piling up 577 yards against Notre Dame’s injury-plagued defense. The Trojans celebrated on the field, with the seniors and select underclassmen – including defensive lineman Leonard Williams – climbing a ladder to lead the USC band.

”Our future is ridiculously bright,” said USC coach Steve Sarkisian, who won his first shot at Notre Dame. ”We’re going to be really good, and we’re not going anywhere.”

With Kessler’s second-half scoring throw to Randall Telfer, Notre Dame yielded six touchdown passes for the first time in the program’s 127-year history.

That defensive low caps a miserable second-half slide for the Irish (7-5), who have lost five of their last six games.

”We have to remember where we are after today’s loss,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ”It’s a red-letter day for our football players and coaches alike. Two years ago, we were playing for a national championship. Today we got our butts beat, and it wasn’t as close as the score. I thought Coach was very generous today to keep running the football to keep the score where it was.”

Everett Golson struggled mightily before Malik Zaire replaced him late in the first half with Notre Dame already trailing by 35. Zaire led a scoring drive and finished with 170 yards passing, providing hope for Notre Dame’s future.

But the present in this rivalry belongs to the Trojans, who rebounded from their lifeless effort last week in a blowout loss to UCLA in their other big rivalry game.

”We put UCLA behind us, because this game was still important to us,” said tailback Javorius Allen, who rushed for 93 yards. ”That’s hard to do, but we don’t quit.”

Kessler, who went 32 for 40, also became the first quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a half against Notre Dame while completing 16 straight passes in a stretch spanning halftime.

After setting his career high in completions, the junior finished the regular season with 3,505 yards passing and 36 TDs against just four interceptions.

”At some point, people are going to recognize him,” Sarkisian said. ”You can’t ignore what this guy is doing.”

Agholor caught 12 passes for 120 yards in perhaps his final game at USC, while Justin Davis rushed for 81 yards and a score.

Before the final regular-season game of its NCAA sanctions era, USC said farewell to a small senior class. Several upperclassmen left with memorable games: J.R. Tavai matched his previous season total with 3 1/2 sacks, including a fourth-down sack with 4 minutes to play, while Gerald Bowman had an interception and Hayes Pullard recovered a fumble as USC built its lead.

”I’m happy that their last moment in the Coliseum is something they’re going to remember for a lifetime,” Sarkisian said. ”That’s what this game has been about for 88 years. We got to be a part of it for just a few.”

The low stakes didn’t matter to fans as USC and Notre Dame closed out two disappointing regular seasons on a brilliant sunny day at the venerable arena that hosted the schools’ first meeting on Dec. 4, 1926.

Obviously aware of Notre Dame’s injury woes on defense, USC opened the game at a high offensive tempo. After JuJu Smith’s diving TD catch was overturned by video review in USC’s first drive, Kessler hit Farmer for a beautiful 48-yard TD moments later.

Jackson, USC’s two-way freshman star, came out of the backfield for a 16-yard TD catch before Farmer capped the first quarter with a 31-yard TD catch down the seam.

Rogers and Agholor caught scoring passes while USC ran away from Notre Dame, which mounted nothing on offense with Golson behind center. Zaire sparked the Irish, getting a 49-yard completion on his first collegiate throw before rushing for an 11-yard score shortly before halftime.

Bears fail to hold 14-3 lead, lose to Lions 34-17

DETROIT—After a week of questions about his limited production of late, Calvin Johnson lifted Detroit’s offense with an emphatic reminder that he’s still one of the game’s most dynamic players.Johnson caught 11 passes for 146 yards with a pair of first-half touchdowns, and the Lions boosted their postseason hopes with a 34-17 victory over the Bears on Thursday. Johnson had been held under 60 yards in two of three games since returning from an ankle injury, and there were rumblings that the 29-year-old receiver was slowing down, but he quieted a lot of those concerns with perhaps his best game of the season.

”Guys still believe in what we got going here,” Johnson said. ”We had a good week of practice – it was a very short week, but we were very detailed in what we did on the field, coaches taking care of us. It’s our part to come out here and do our job on the field.”

After losing at Arizona and New England and falling out of first place in the NFC North, the Lions (8-4) spotted the Bears a 14-3 first-quarter lead before rallying with relative ease in the second. Detroit finished with a season-high 474 yards in its highest-scoring game since a 35-14 victory over the New York Giants in its opener.Joique Bell ran for two touchdowns for the Lions, and Jay Cutler threw two TD passes for The Bears (5-7). Detroit’s Matthew Stafford went 34 of 45 for 390 yards with the two touchdown passes to Johnson.The Lions have now won back-to-back games on Thanksgiving after losing their previous nine. They beat Green Bay 40-10 last year.That victory over the Packers was Detroit’s only win in its final seven games last season as the Lions frittered away a playoff spot. They are again in mix for the postseason this year, and Thursday’s game was their first of three in a row at home – all against teams with losing records.

”Every single week there’s a new challenge. We have a new one next week,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ”The minute you get comfortable at any stage in our league you’re going to have problems.”

Detroit came in with the league’s top-ranked run defense, and the Bears barely even tried to test it. Matt Forte was a non-factor on the ground, finishing with 6 yards on five carries. Cutler went 31 of 48 for 280 yards with two fourth-quarter interceptions.The Bears’s imbalanced game plan came only a few days after New England relied heavily on the pass in its victory over the Lions last weekend.

”I think they look at the numbers and make an assessment of what they think they can do,” Caldwell said. ”Not everybody looks at it the same way, but the last couple weeks it’s been that way.”

The Bears opened the scoring on Cutler’s 10-yard scoring pass to Alshon Jeffery, and they scored again after Jared Allen sacked Stafford, forced a fumble and recovered it at the Detroit 5. Cutler’s 6-yard scoring pass to Jeffery made it 14-3 with 3:35 remaining in the first quarter.Stafford, however, was brilliant in the second. Johnson made a leaping catch for a 25-yard touchdown, holding on despite a hit from defensive back Kyle Fuller. That was the first time Detroit had reached the end zone since Nov. 9 against Miami – and a sign that the Lions were shaking off some of the problems with their passing game.

”I don’t know that they really did anything that we didn’t expect, although they didn’t have the drops that we’ve seen on film, or make the other mistakes that shut down offenses,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. ”We were the ones that had those, especially penalties that took us out of good positions.”

Bell put the Lions ahead with a 1-yard scoring run on fourth down – leaping toward the goal line and extending the ball just far enough for a touchdown. Stafford’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Johnson made it 24-14 with 24 seconds left in the half.Stafford went 22 of 26 for 275 yards in the first half, and Johnson set a record as the fastest to 10,000 yards receiving, surpassing that milestone in the second quarter of his 115th game.Bell’s 1-yard run in the fourth was the only touchdown of the second half.

NOTES—The Bears lost(again) Chris Conte early on because of an eye injury, and possible concussion… Detroit C Dominic Raiola became the first Lions player to start 200 games. … Lions WR Corey Fuller caught a 21-yard pass in the first half, and his brother Kyle – the Bears CB – came over and playfully knocked the ball out of his hands after the play.

GROBBER’S WEEK 13 NFL PICKS

AFC GAMES:
BUFFALO over Cleveland
BALTIMORE over San Diego
HOUSTON over Tennessee

NFL GAMES:
Arizona over ATLANTA

INTER-CONF GAMES:
INDIANAPOLIS over Washington
NY Giants over JACKSONVILLE
ST.LOUIS over Oakland
Cincinnati over TAMPA BAY
PITTSBURGH over New Orleans

THANKS GIVING GAMES(other than Bears):
DALLAS over Philadelphia
SAN FRANCISCO over Seattle

SUNDAY NIGHT: KANSAS CITY over Denver
MONDAY NIGHT:Miami over NY Jets

NFL NORTH GAMES:
MINNESOTA over Carolina
New England over GREEB BAY
DETROIT over BEARS(Thanksgiving)

HOME TEAMS in ALL CAPS
Last week: Les 11-4, Adam 12-3, Kevin 12-3, Zach 10-5
Through Week 12: Les 119-60-1, Adam 117-62-1, Kevin 112-67-1, Zach 105-74-1

Rose held out of second half, Bulls fall to Nuggets

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

DENVER—Ty Lawson scored 20 points, including a key jumper in the waning seconds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Bulls¬†114-109 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.Arron Afflalo added 19 points and Danilo Gallinari had 15 for the Nuggets, who defeated the Bulls for the eighth straight time in Denver.¬†Derrick Rose was limited to 10 minutes in his second game back from a left hamstring strain. Rose, who scored 18 points in his return Monday night against Utah after a four-game absence, felt tightness in the hamstring during the first quarter and didn’t play the rest of the way.Jimmy Butler had 32 points, and Pau Gasol finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds.Trailing 56-49 at halftime, the Bulls closed to 64-61 when Mike Dunleavyswiped the ball from Lawson to start a fast break that he finished with a layup.But the Nuggets pushed back. When Dunleavy later made a 3-pointer, Lawson answered with a three-point play to help Denver to an 86-76 lead heading into the fourth quarter.The Nuggets used a 6-0 burst that included a pair of dunks by Alonzo Geeto stretch their lead to 94-80 with 8:25 remaining, but then had to fend off a late rally by the Bulls.Gasol scored a pair of baskets to get the Bulls within 10. After a video review erased a 3-point basket by Gallinari because he stepped out of bounds, Gasol converted a three-point play, making it 105-98 with less than two minutes left.Butler’s three-point play with 31.4 seconds remaining trimmed Denver’s lead to 109-106, but Lawson then hit a step-back jumper with 8.3 seconds left. After a Bulls turnover, Lawson hit one of two free throws and it was enough to hold off the Bulls.

NOTES—Joakim Noah was inactive because of an eye abrasion suffered in the win at Utah. … Taj Gibson missed the game because of a left ankle injury. … The Bulls haven’t won in Denver since Feb. 8, 2006. … Gasol leads the Bulls with seven double-doubles….Former DePaul Blue Demon Wilson Chandler finished with 14 points for Denver and has had 10 or more points in 10 of his last 11 games…..The Bulls are at Boston on Friday.

Bulls blow 21 point lead, but still beat Jazz 97-95

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

SALT LAKE CITY—Injuries have made it tough for the Bulls to realize their full potential this season. The Bulls can dominate any team for a quarter or a half, and let that team back into the game before the final horn.This maddening inconsistency was put on full display in the Bull’s 97-95 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. The Bulls imposed its will defensively and built up a double-digit lead. Then the Bulls lost that lead early in the fourth quarter and barely survived a Utah rally.The Bulls needed a basket from Mike Dunleavy and a free throw from Pau Gasol in the final seconds to avoid an embarrassing loss.

”It’s just a learning experience,” Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said. ”When we get a team down like that, we got to learn how to keep them down. Know the strategy and know the plays where we’re going to get a good shot. But, if anything, our defense always has to be there. That’s something we got to learn too.”

Rose scored 18 points in his return to the Bulls’ lineup after missing four games because of a hamstring injury.Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 25 points and Gasol added 23 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who beat the Jazz for ninth time in the last 12 games between the two teams.After trailing by 21 points in the second quarter, Utah took its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter when Trevor Booker made a layup to put the Jazz up 80-78.The Bulls took an 87-84 lead when Aaron Brooks hit a 3-pointer. Utah answered by scoring seven unanswered points, going up 91-87 on a running jumper from Favors with 3:30 left.The Bulls regained the lead 96-95 on Dunleavy’s put back with 22.5 seconds remaining. Gasol then hit 1-of-2 free throws after winning possession on a jump ball with 3.2 seconds remaining. Utah had a final shot, but Hayward’s game winner fell short at the buzzer.Tom Thibodeau said injuries haven’t given the starting five enough time together to work out all the kinks.

”There is a lot of rust,” Thibodeau said. ”You can’t build chemistry unless they are out there playing, practicing, working together. If you include the preseason, it hasn’t happened a lot, so we got to get that straightened out.”

Derrick Favors scored 21 points and pulled down a season-high 15 rebounds for Utah. Enes Kanter had 19 points and eight rebounds while Trey Burke had 18 and 10 assists.

”If we would have come out with more energy in the first half, we would have had this game,” Favors said. ”But we dug ourselves a deep hole in the first half and it kind of hurt us.”

NOTES—The Bulls started 6-0 on the road and improved to 7-2 away from home. The Bulls have posted a winning road record in each of the last four seasons.Jazz: Utah has not shot below 42 percent from the field in a game this season. The Jazz shot 48.8 percent (42-of-86) against the Bulls. . Gordon Hayward is just the ninth Jazz player to make more than 300 3-pointers in his time with the franchise. Hayward has made 301 career 3-pointers for Utah.The Bulls play at Denver on Tuesday

Illini move past Brown with strong second half

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

CHAMPAIGN—In 59 seconds, Illinois took control of a tie game and never looked back.Over those 59 seconds in the beginning the second half against Brown on Monday, the Illini went on a 9-0 run that turned a tie game into a nine-point lead that they would not relinquish.Aaron Cosby scored 18 points, with 13 in the first five minutes of the second half, as Illinois (4-0) topped Brown (1-4) 89-68 on Monday night.Brown took a 35-31 lead into halftime by shooting 51.9 percent from the field. Illinois’ offense, which entered the game averaging 100.3 points per game, was limited to 30.6 percent from the floor in the first half.

”Obviously a tale of two halves,” Illinois coach John Groce said. ”They played with a little more toughness than us and a little more sense of urgency than us.”

The game-changing run started with a steal by Rayvonte Rice, who was fouled on a fast break layup after he picked off a pass.On the next possession, Jaylon Tate got a steal off of a deflection from center Nnanna Egwu and pushed the ball coast to coast. Hanging in midair, Tate wrapped around a Brown defender in the paint and found a wide-open Cosby in the corner for three.Cosby did the work himself on the Bears’ next possession, making a steal and drawing an intentional foul by Steven Spieth. Cosby nailed both free throws and followed it with a layup on the ensuing possession to push the lead to nine.After that, Brown never threatened and the lead reached as high as 24 in the second half.In the second half, Illinois shot 73.1 percent from the field and was 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. After its sluggish first half, Illinois dropped 58 points in the second half.Rice added 15 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Five Illinois players reached double figures.Spieth led Brown with 21 points and seven rebounds. He was an efficient 7-of-10 from the field but had four turnovers. Sophomore Leland King was held to seven points after back-to-back games of scoring 25 points.After only a combined six rebounds in the team’s first two games, Egwu gathered eight rebounds Monday.

Bears beat Lovie at his own game, turnovers lead to 14 of 21 third quarter points in comback win over Bucs

Matt Forte gobbled up the yards on the ground, and the defense made several big plays at key moments.The second-half rally was reminiscent of Lovie Smith’s time with the Bears, and that old familiar formula spoiled the coach’s return to Soldier Field.Forte rushed for two touchdowns in the third quarter, and the Bears forced four turnovers in a 21-13 victory over Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

”Lovie preaches that a lot — we felt we had to win the turnover battle,” Bears cornerback Tim Jennings said. ”That was huge for our success today. It was real huge. We needed that.”

Jay Cutler threw a 2-yard TD pass to Alshon Jeffery as the Bears (5-6) scored 21 straight points to erase a 10-0 halftime deficit. Forte had a 13-yard run that put the Bears ahead to stay, and then added a 1-yard plunge that made it 21-10.

”Our defense did a great job in the second half of getting turnovers so that we can convert those into touchdowns, you know, down in the red zone,” Forte said.

Smith coached the Bears to three playoff appearances and a trip to the 2007 Super Bowl during his nine-year run in Chicago. He was hired by Tampa Bay in January, and his return to Chicago showed just how far he has to go to get the lowly Bucs (2-9) back on track.

”Won a lot of games here at Soldier Field,” Smith said. ”Lot of great memories, but this is a bad memory right now.”

Tampa Bay had three turnovers in the third. Josh McCown, who played with the Bears off and on for the previous three seasons, lost a fumble and threw an interception. Vincent Jackson fumbled at the end of a 24-yard reception that would have resulted in a first-and-goal.Each of Forte’s touchdowns came after a Buccaneers turnover. McCown also threw an interception in the first quarter that ended another promising drive.

”When you’re on the road, it’s tough when you give them more opportunities,” said Jackson, who had five receptions for 117 yards.

Forte had 23 carries for 89 yards as the Bears won consecutive games for the first time since September. Cutler was 17 for 27 for 130 yards.McCown was 25 for 48 for 341 yards for Tampa Bay, which has dropped six of seven. Rookie Mike Evans had a touchdown reception for the fourth consecutive game, and Louis Murphy added six receptions for 113 yards.The Buccaneers managed just 156 yards and six first downs in the second half after getting off to a fast start on a rainy day on the Lake Front.

”We did much better on third down,” said safety Ryan Mundy, who had the third-quarter interception for Chicago. ”At the start of the game they were converting at a much higher rate. Once we settled in and started getting stops on third down that really helped us out.”

Smith was let go by the Bears after they failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season in 2012 despite a 10-6 record. He was 81-63 in his first stint as a head coach in the NFL.Most of Smith’s tenure in Chicago featured a stout defense and an ineffective offense, and general manager Phil Emery replaced him with a coach with an offensive background when he hired Marc Trestman last January. It has been a rocky start so far for Trestman, and Smith’s return seemed to increase the pressure on the former CFL coach with Montreal.It got even worse for Trestman when Tampa Bay controlled most of the first half, with the Buccaneers playing like some of Smith’s winning teams in Chicago.Gerald McCoy knocked the ball loose when he had a big hit on Cutler in the first quarter and Clinton McDonald recovered for the Buccaneers. McCown then capped a six-play, 46-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Evans for a 7-0 lead.Tampa Bay scored again right before halftime, making it 10-0 on rookie Patrick Murray’s 32-yard field goal. Murphy had a key 54-yard reception when he spun out of a tackle attempt by Jennings, and Jackson had a 27-yard grab on a third-and-23 on the drive.

NOTES—The Bears had a season-high five sacks. … Tampa Bay FB Jorvorskie Lane was carted off in the second quarter with what Smith said was a ”serious” right ankle injury. … Bears LB Lance Briggs was sidelined by a groin injury, and CB Kyle Fuller departed with a knee injury. … Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin returned after missing three games with an ankle injury. He had 27 yards on 11 carries.

SIU beats UIC 67-60 in Men Against Cancer Classic finale

KENT—Anthony Beane scored 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds as Southern Illinois defeated UIC 67-60 in the Men Against Breast Cancer Classic on Sunday.The Salukis shot 50 percent from the field and had a 35-28 edge in rebounding. Sean O’Brien and Deion Lavender each finished with 12 points and Jordan Caroline had five with 11 boards.Southern Illinois (2-3) raced out to an early 21-5 lead as Lavender hit a pair of 3-pointers. They led 35-21 at halftime and pushed that lead to 21 after Beane’s jumper and layup at the 14:55 mark.UIC (1-4) couldn’t keep pace, being limited to 19-of-55 shooting (34.5 percent) and trailing by double digits the entire second half until a late run provided the final margin.Jay Harris led the Flames with 19 points and D’Juan Miller added 16, but no other UIC player had more than six.

Canucks explode for three goals in third period, beat Hawks 4-1

VANCOUVER—Jannik Hansen scored the first hat trick of his career Sunday as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 4-1.Radim Vrbata had the other goal for the Canucks and Ryan Miller made 24 saves to get the win as Vancouver (14-6-1) celebrated assistant captain Daniel Sedin’s 1,000th NHL game with a hard-fought win.Bo Horvat had his first three NHL assists, while Derek Dorsett added two of his own.Corey Crawford finished with 26 stops for then Blackhawks (12-8-1) in the loss.After giving Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the first period, Hansen snapped a 1-1 tie with his fourth goal in the last three games at 6:24 of the third. Dorsett chipped the puck down the boards into the Hawk zone before directing a shot toward the goal that Hansen deflected into the top corner for his eighth of the season.Prior to Hansen’s second goal, Nick Bonino had a great chance to give the Canucks the lead about five minutes into the third. But his shot from the side of a wide open net hit the far post and stayed out.The Hawks had a power play with about eight minutes left in the third, but Vancouver’s penalty kill was effective. The Blackhawks, playing their second of a back-to-back and third game in four nights, pressed for the tie late, but were caught out on a rush when Vrbata scored his 10th of the season at 17:36.Hansen then won a race for the puck and scored into an empty net with 42 seconds left for the hat trick.The Hawks had won three straight – including Saturday night’s 7-1 thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers – and five of their last six, but was down 1-0 after the first period before imposing its will as the second wore on.Kris Versteeg, who had two goals and four assists in his last three games, scored his seventh of the season tie things at 7:55 on the power play, deflecting a point shot from Duncan Keith past a helpless Miller.Hansen wired a shot off a face off earlier in the period that Crawford saved before the Blackhawks goalie snagged Vrbata’s deflection with his glove.The Canucks had a great chance to restore the lead on a power play of their own later in the period, but Crawford robbed Henrik Sedin with the heel of his skate after taking a pass at the side of the net from Daniel Sedin.Vancouver opened the scoring at 13:13 of the first period on the power play when Dorsett’s pass off the rush glanced off Horvat’s stick to Hansen, who buried his sixth of the season and third in as many games over Crawford’s blocker.The assist was Horvat’s first in the NHL after scoring his first goal in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

NOTES—Henrik Sedin played his 1,000th game with Vancouver in March. … Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis sat out with a lower-body injury after getting hurt on Thursday. … Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … The Canucks host Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday before starting a season-high seven-game road trip in Columbus against the Blue Jackets on Friday. The trip will also take Vancouver to Detroit, Washington, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. … The Blackhawks continue their six-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.

NU hammer’s Purdue, loses Siemian

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

WEST LAFAYETTE—On a day when starting quarterback Trevor Siemian was lost in the second quarter with a left knee injury, Northwestern’s defense and special teams compensated, producing a much-needed victory.Linebacker Jimmy Hall set up 14 points with an interception and a fumble recovery, and the Wildcats beat Purdue 38-14 on Saturday.

”I was just at the right place at the right time, really,” Hall said of the two plays that established the early momentum. ”It was just guys stepping up, getting forced fumbles, and I was just there at the right time.”

Purdue finished with five turnovers.A victory against Illinois on Nov. 29 would make the Wildcats (5-6, 3-4 Big Ten) bowl eligible. Northwestern last week upset Notre Dame 43-40 in overtime, snapping a four-game losing streak.Siemian hurt his left knee trying to pick up a first down and did not return. He was replaced by Zach Oliver. Coach Pat Fitzgerald said the knee injury appears to be a serious one, although he won’t know specifics until after tests are run.

”We have had a lot of injuries, but our young men have persevered,” Fitzgerald said. ”They’ve kept on battling, and obviously, our backs are against the wall one more time next Saturday.”
Replacing Siemian was difficult emotionally for Oliver.

”Trevor and I are best friends, so it’s tough,” said Oliver, who completed 5 of 11 passes for 85 yards. ”We have to move on. We still have a win to get next week, and then a bowl win, and we are going to be playing for him. Coach Fitzgerald has been calling this little final streak our playoffs, so we have to get that W against Illinois.”

Hall’s interception of a pass by Austin Appleby – one of four first-half Purdue turnovers – set up Northwestern’s first score, a 24-yard pass from Siemian to Dan Vitale.Hall recovered a fumble by Akeem Hunt at the Northwestern 43, setting up a nine-play, 57-yard drive, capped by Justin Jackson’s 9-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.Jackson finished with 23 carries for 147 yards and two touchdowns.