Updated: January 2, 2014 6:53AM
CHAMPAIGN — This was the end of a quarterbacking era for both schools. Illini mainstay Nathan Scheelhaase played his last game in orange and blue, while Northwestern standout Kain Colter was unable to go due to a shoulder injury.
“[Colter] was pretty emotional before the game,’’ NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “He’s meant so much to the program. He’s a young man like Nathan. That’s what’s right about college football, both those young men.
“I told Nathan that I’ve had a ton of respect for him since the day he came to Champaign. Those are two of the most special young people.’’
Junior receiver Christian Jones had a breakout game, catching 13 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. In the first quarter alone, he caught six balls from junior quarterback Trevor Siemian for 95 yards, topping his career high of 94 yards.
“Trevor spread it out. He was really picking holes in the defense,’’ said Jones, who’s excited about teaming with Siemian next year. ``We have a lot of people coming back. Trevor is big because he’s been playing, and playing well, for a while. We have a lot of great leadership, and that definitely sets a foundation.’’
Finish with a flourish
Beyond retaining the Land of Lincoln Trophy, NU will take away warm feelings from its final success.
“Coach Fitz has always told us that winning a Big Ten game is the hardest thing you will do in your life,’’ Siemian said. “We were just talking, and saying how true that is with everything we’ve been through this year. It’s good to finally get one.’’