Big Ten

Indiana running back Devine Redding declares for NFL Draft

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USA TODAY

Indiana running back Devine Redding declares for NFL Draft

Devine Redding is following his Indiana running back predecessors to the NFL.

After Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard each left the Hoosiers with NCAA eligibility remaining, Redding did the same thing, declaring for the NFL Draft on Friday.

"As I look ahead to next year, I have realized two things," Redding said in his announcement. "The first is that any success I have experienced to date — on or off the field — is shared. It would not have been possible without God, the unconditional love and support of my parents, Desmond Redding and Natalie Fields, and my IU family: the coaches, staff and amazing Hoosier fans.

"Secondly, my life so far has been shaped by my goal of playing in the NFL. After receiving a favorable response from the NFL Advisory Committee and a lot of thought and prayer, I have realized that now is the moment for me to pursue that lifelong dream. As a result, I have decided to forgo my final year of eligibility and will declare for the NFL Draft.

"I did not arrive at this decision easily, and I want to reiterate my sincerest thanks to all of the coaches, staff and teammates who have made reaching this goal possible. Coach (Kevin) Wilson challenged me to be the greatest version of myself. Coach (Deland) McCullough created a respectful atmosphere where running backs can grow as men and players and reach our goals. I am forever grateful to them both, as well as the training staff, Christa Sist, IU academics and coach (Tom) Allen, who has supported me in this decision.

"To my IU family: I could never be who I am, on and off the field, without your willingness to embrace me as a person. It's because of you that I feel I'm genuinely ready for the challenge of the NFL. God bless and Go Hoosiers!"

Redding finished with 1,122 rushing yards this season, ranking fifth in the Big Ten. He scored seven touchdowns on the ground and had another two off passes.

In three seasons, Redding racked up 2,252 yards including going over the 1,000-yard mark in each of the past two seasons.

Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

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Illini play freshman quarterback Cam Thomas for first time, but still fall at Minnesota

While Saturday's trip to the Twin Cities featured some more of the same for the Fighting Illini, it marked important step in Lovie Smith's rebuilding project.

Freshman quarterback Cam Thomas, a Marian Catholic product, saw action for the first time in his collegiate career, Smith busting out a new option at the game's most important position. Thomas threw a nasty pick six, but he did lead Illinois in rushing in a 24-17 loss at Minnesota.

Thomas only made four throws, completing two of them and landing a third in the hands of a Minnesota defender, but his play injected a bit of excitement into what's looking like another dreadful season of Illinois football, with Smith's team falling to 2-5 through the first seven games of his second season at the helm of the program. Thomas mostly starred with his feet Saturday, rushing for a team-high 79 yards in the defeat.

His first appearance came following the first of the Illinois' defense's three takeaways. Thomas ran for a nine-yard gain on his first carry, and the Illini tied the game with a touchdown on the next play. Thomas was interchanged with starting quarterback Jeff George Jr. from there on out.

While the Illini defense kept the Gophers at bay for much of the day thanks to those three takeaways, P.J. Fleck's team had no trouble racking up rushing yardage, finishing with a whopping 292 rushing yards. Minnesota engineered a 12-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter exclusively running the ball to break a 10-all tie and go up 17-10.

Thomas threw a pick six on the very next play from scrimmage, sending the Gophers up 24-10 to effectively seal the deal. George led an Illinois touchdown drive on the next possession, but the Illini couldn't make up the suddenly big gap in the limited amount of time.

Illinois finished with only 282 yards of offense. George was 18-for-23 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Ra'Von Bonner carried the ball 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The defeat dropped the Illini to 2-5 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. One of just two teams without a Big Ten win (Indiana is the other), Illinois faces off against a top-10 Wisconsin team next weekend.

Big play from Justin Jackson sets up Northwestern's overtime win over Iowa

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Big play from Justin Jackson sets up Northwestern's overtime win over Iowa

Justin Jackson is one of the top 10 rushers in Big Ten history for a reason: He's very, very good at this football thing.

But it was a big play Jackson made not as a ball-carrier but as a pass-catcher Saturday that set up Northwestern's second straight win, a 17-10 takedown of Iowa in Evanston.

Jackson took a pass from quarterback Clayton Thorson and went all the way down to the 1-yard line, picking up 23 yards and shedding multiple tacklers on the game's biggest play.

Two plays later, Thorson plunged in for the go-ahead score. Iowa failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt on its ensuing overtime possession, ending it with a dropped pass that finished the game.

The game's result rapidly altered the social-media conversation, which moments prior had been mighty critical of Pat Fitzgerald, who made a controversial decision at the end of regulation.

Iowa tied the game at 10 on a field goal inside of two minutes to play, forced to kick after a false start was committed on fourth and 1. Fitzgerald had a minute and a half and two timeouts to try to get his own team into field-goal range for a shot at a win but instead ran the clock out and headed to overtime.

Fitzgerald explained after the game that the blustery wind at Ryan Field played a big role in that decision, plus his team had a long way to go against an Iowa defense that played well throughout the game.

Northwestern's defense was very strong, too, holding Iowa to 312 total yards, only 89 of which came on the ground. Hawkeyes quarterback Nathan Stanley was also picked off in the second half for the game's only turnover.

Jackson finished with 93 rushing yards and 38 receiving yards. Thorson was 21-for-36 passing the ball for 192 yards. Backup running back Jeremy Larkin scored the Wildcats' lone regulation touchdown.

The win improved Northwestern to 4-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big Ten play. After a 2-3 start, the Cats have won back-to-back games and take on a ranked Michigan State team next weekend.