Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure landed a big batch of recognition Monday for his record-setting 330-yard rushing day in Illinois' 48-27 victory over Northwestern at Wrigley Field Saturday.
The junior running back was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Walter Camp Foundation National Player of the Week, Rivals.com National Player of the Week and College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week.
Leshoure's 330-yard game was the most by an Illinois rusher and the fifth-highest total by a Big Ten player.
Illinois and Northwestern will both go east-to-west at Wrigley Saturday to avoid any confrontations with that endzone wall.
Here's the full text of the Big Ten announcement. . .
BIG TEN ANNOUNCES ADJUSTED PLAYING RULES TO ENHANCE
STUDENT-ATHLETE SAFETY FOR ILLINOIS-NORTHWESTERN GAME AT WRIGLEY FIELD
Park Ridge, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference announced a series of adjustments to
football playing rules in order to enhance student-athlete safety for the
Illinois-Northwestern game to be played on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Wrigley Field
in Chicago. The Big Ten worked with both Illinois and Northwestern to review a
number of potential rule or field adjustments to provide the safest environment
for the student-athletes. The conference requested and received waivers to
several NCAA playing rules in the interest of student-athlete safety.
The following rule changes were determined to be the best of all options and
will be in effect for this game only based on the unique layout of the field.
1) All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all
extra points and all overtime possessions.
2) All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3) After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the
offense to head toward the West end zone.
4) As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning,
Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will
occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,"
said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. "Both Illinois and Northwestern did
significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual
layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the
rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes. Wrigley Field is
one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the
Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime
experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans."
Illinois is ranked 11th in the nation in Sport Illustrated pre-season college basketball preview, which comes out this week. The Illini are third among SI's Big Ten teams, behind No. 2 Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State. The top five are Duke, Michigan State, Kansas State, Villanova and Pitt. The Illini could play Pitt on Friday in Madison Square Garden.
Nathan Scheelhaase was named Big Ten offensive player of the week and picked up the fourth freshman-of-the-week award of his eight-game career Monday.
The redshirt freshman quarterback from Kansas City had five career highs, including four touchdown passes and 118 rushing yards, in Illinois' 44-10 rout of Purdue. Scheelhaase, who completed 16 of 20 for 195 yards with no interceptions, also had career highs in completion percentage (80), total yards (313) and passing efficiency (227.9), the sixth-best single-game rating by an Illinois quarterback.
``He grew up today,'' said offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, who praised the strides Scheelhaase made in recognizing defensive schemes and audibling Illinois into favorable plays.
``I definitely felt that way, Scheelhaase said, echoing Petrino's comment. ``With their blitzes and the things they did, I was able to get us into the right things. We changed a lot of protections, even on running plays.''
Scheelhaase completed passes to 11 different players.
``The game is slowing down for him,'' coach Ron Zook said. ``I don't think it's anywhere near where it's going to be, but he really works at learning from his mistakes. The more he sees, the more he does, the more he learns, the more it's going to become a reaction.''
NOTE: Illinois' final home game vs. Minnesota on Nov. 13 will begin at 11 a.m. and be televised by the Big Ten Network.