WEST WAS WON, BUT NU ADDS ONE
Wildcats dispatch Illini to cap impressive run through conference; now face OSU
Ohio State, which embarrassed No. 4 Michigan 62-39.
Fitzgerald said he went over Ohio State tape last week and Michigan tape the week before that and came to the same conclusion. He didn’t want to play either team.
“It was a lose-lose from a talent standpoint, a coaching standpoint, a tradition standpoint,’’ he said. “But we have an unbelievable opportunity in front of us. I’m fired up to take the purple down to Indy. The goal every year is to win the Big Ten West. We’ve finally gotten over that hump. Now we’ve got a 60-minute opportunity to take this team to the Rose Bowl.’’
Win or lose in Indianapolis, a quality bowl trip awaits. After a 1-3 start, NU won seven of its last eight games, falling only to Notre Dame.
“I would hope we stop talking about that [1-3 start] at some point,’’ Fitzgerald said. “I wish the narrative would change to them going 15-1 in the Big Ten over the last 16 games and winning every game in the West.’’
NU also can take pride in handling Minnesota and Illinois after clinching its West title.
The Illini (4-8, 2-7), on the other hand, have been to only one bowl since 2011, the year they fired Ron Zook, the first coach to put Illinois
Bennett Skowronek (right) is congratulated by Riley Lees after his eight-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.