Cheap shots are a part of college football. They happen in the trenches, during scrambles for a loose ball and behind the referee's back. But rarely do you see one as calculated as the one Illinois linebacker Jonathan Brown laid on Northwestern offensive lineman Patrick Ward.
During the first half of today's game, Brown clearly looks around to see if anyone is watching before kneeing Ward in the groin.
Of course, with 65,000 people, eleven opposing players and five refs — one of whom happened to be standing right next to him — Brown's attempt at a clandestine cheap shot results in a major fail and an instant flag for a personal foul. Probably didn't help that Ward reacted, probably with a high-pitched scream, to the assault. Unfortunately, Brown wasn't ejected, but trust that the Big Ten office will review the play and let's hope Brown is disciplined accordingly.
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If anything, Brown should be disciplined for poor sneaky cheap shot execution. As for his team, it's not going much better: Northwestern leads in the third quarter, 28-10, behind four touchdown passes by quarterback Dan Persa.
It's a final: Illinois embarked on a 28-7 run over the final 20 minutes to win, 38-35, on a late quarterback sneak by Nathan Scheelhaase. Cheap shot notwithstanding, after today's rally, the Illini are 5-0 for the first time in 60 years.
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- Patrick Ward