EVANSTON, Ill. — Justin Jackson rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns, John Moten added 128 yards and two touchdowns and Northwestern became bowl eligible with a 42-21 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
Clayton Thorson completed 13 of 20 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown as the Wildcats improved to 6-6 and 5-4 in the Big Ten.
Wes Lunt completed 28 of 54 passes for 377 yards and two touchdowns for Illinois (3-9, 2-7), which closed out its first season under coach Lovie Smith with three straight losses.
Jackson moved into second place on Northwestern's all-time rushing list — passing Darnell Autry (3,793) and Tyrell Sutton (3,886) with 3,905. Jackson has 27 career rushing TDs.
After trailing 21-0, Illinois rallied for two touchdowns to pull within 21-14 at halftime and appeared headed for a game-tying score on its first possession of the second half when things fell apart.