Northwestern came oh-so-close to upsetting bowl-bound Illinois Saturday at Champaign, Ill., but Illini linebacker Darrick Brownlow recovered a fumbled pass completion near the goal line in the closing seconds to preserve a 14-9 Big Ten victory.
Illinois scored 2 first-quarter touchdowns, but its offense slumped as Northwestern rallied behind 3 field goals by Ira Adler.
The Wildcats, however, fell short in an effort to score a game-winning touchdown.
Wildcat quarterback Greg Bradshaw, working from the Illini 24, hit tight end Bob Griswold with a fourth-down pass near the goal line, but the ball popped loose and Brownlow grabbed it.
Illinois, 6-4-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the Big Ten, is headed for the All American Bowl on Dec. 29, when the Illini will face Florida.
Northwestern finished 2-8-1 and 2-5-1.
Iowa 31, Minnesota 22--Mike Saunders ran for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns, all on 1-yard runs, as the Peach Bowl-bound Hawkeyes won at Minneapolis. Sanders scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
Iowa (6-3-3 and 4-1-3) formally accepted the invitation to the Dec. 31 bowl at Atlanta. The Hawkeyes, who will face North Carolina State, will be making a postseason appearance for the eighth straight year.
Minnesota (2-7-2 and 0-6-2) went winless in the Big Ten for the fifth time in 89 years.
The winning score was set up by a 49-yard flea-flicker pass from Chuck Hartlieb to Deven Harberts on a third-and-2.
Michigan St. 36, Wisconsin 0--The Spartans nailed down a Gator Bowl bid as John Langeloh kicked a school-record 5 field goals and Blake Ezor ran for 3 touchdowns at East Lansing, Mich.
The Spartans (6-4-1 and 6-1-1), who will play Georgia on Jan. 1, extended their winning streak to 6 games, after going winless in their first 5. The Badgers finished 1-10 and 1-7.
Wisconsin turned the ball over 6 times, had 3 passes intercepted and lost 3 of 5 fumbles. Michigan State converted 4 of those mistakes into scores.
Indiana 52, Purdue 7--Anthony Thompson, a junior, broke the school’s career rushing record, running 25 times for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns, as the Hoosiers crushed the error-plagued Boilermakers at West Layfayette, Ind.
It was Indiana’s highest point total against Purdue and its biggest margin of victory in the series that began in 1891.
The Hoosiers, who are 7-3-1 and 5-3, received a bid to face South Carolina in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 28. Purdue finished 3-5 and 4-7.
Thompson raised his career total to 3,366 yards, breaking the Indiana record of 3,257 set by Mike Harkrader in 1976-80. He also increased his school career scoring record to 246 points and his season rushing record to 1,546 yards.