Game 156: Illinois @ Northwestern


On this late November day, the curtains closed on a very historic college football trophy. Northwestern and Illinois have played for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy for over six decades. However, the Illini had recently been stripped of their mascot due to its perceived disrespectful nature to the surrounding tribal nations. Anything bearing any reference to Indian culture had to be removed from the campus or they would suffer probation. Included in this cleaning process included the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy. This would be the last game where the trophy would be awarded and even if Illinois won, they were not allowed to keep it.

After a Rose Bowl season, no one thought the Illini would be depending on this game for bowl eligibility. Moreover, few were thinking that Northwestern would be gunning for its ninth win of the season at this point. Illinois hung around for a while, but Northwestern’s discipline and speed made the difference and the Wildcats came away with a convincing 27-10 victory. The crowd stormed the field to celebrate the end of a trophy era. The Wildcat players, coaches, and fans all gathered on the field as the band blasted, “Go U Northwestern!” The trophy was held up one last time surrounded by a sea of purple. The Wildcats now would be aiming for another trophy in the Alamo Bowl, while the Illini head home to figure out how to get back on track.

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