Wow, what a weekend!

Wow, what a weekend!

It was a very interesting weekend for football in the Chicago area both college and pro. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, but it was a very entertaining holiday weekend. Let's start with the good, beginning with the Illini winning the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on New Years Eve. Ron Zook was fired after the season ending loss to Minnesota.

At that time the Illini had lost six straight after winning their first six games and at one point was in both the BCS rankings and the Top 25. Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning coached Illinois in this bowl game, and the Illini attoned for the sins of the regular season by defeating the UCLA Bruins {Who are also going through a coaching change} 20-14. And they did it with their defense.

Vic Koenning holding up the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl trophy.

It also helped that Nathan Scheelhasse had a good game. He was both the leading passer and rusher for the Illini. He completed 18 of 30 passes {1TD} and had 22 carries, totaling for 249 offensive yards. Scheelhasse will be a good foundation for New Head Coach Tim Beckman to build on for the near future. Illinois will see better days in 2012.

Then of course there are our beloved Bears who as I predicted would finish the season on a winning note. They swept the season series with Minnesota with a 17-13 victory. They finish the season 8-8 and miss the playoffs by two games. Josh McCown wasn't great but he was good enough considering he had Jared Allen in his face all day.

The Bears O-Line was not that great but they did prevent Jared Allen from reaching the single season sack record set by Michael Strahan in 2001. And because of the subpar blocking of the offensive line, Kahlil Bell was not much of a factor in the victory. Roy Williams, Charles Tillman, and Robbie Gould were this weeks stars.

On a sour note Bears Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher suffered a knee injury late in the 4th quarter.....

The bad news is Urlacher missed the remainder of the game, the good news is the injury isn't serious. Numerous reports came out stating that Urlacher had anything from a torn ACL, to a torn miniscus, and even a broken knee cap. But yesterday an MRI confirmed that Urlacher only suffered a sprain of both the MCL and PCL.

He should be ready for mini-camps but it is doubtful that he will play in this years pro bowl. But there are questions that remain for this Bears team down the road which I will touch on very soon.......

And lastly the disappointing part of the weekend, the bowl winless Northwestern Wildcats. They fell 33-22 to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Let's be honest, despite all that Pat Fitzgerald has accomplished at Northwestern, he is winless (0-4) in bowl games and the 'Cats pass defense has been awful more often than not.

Even though the Aggies only scored 1 touchdown through the air, it was their passing game that put them in position to score 2 rushing touchdowns and 2 field goals. When the Cardiac Cats cut the lead to 30-22 with roughly 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter, they pinned A&M inside their own 30 yard line. But three huge passing plays on 3rd and long kept A&M on course for victory.

Northwestern was unable to get a pass rush going, they were unable to force a turnover, and they just could not cover deep down the field. By the time the Aggies scored that last field only 50 seconds remained in the game. That's a lot of pressure to put on your offense by asking Dan Persa and company to score 13 points in 50 seconds, it's basically impossible. NU still has not won a bowl since the 1949 Rose Bowl.

Pat Fitzgerald needs to work with his defense in the offseason. If NU has another season like this, especially with a bowl game loss, Fitzgerald could wind up losing his job.

I wish you all blessings in 2012.

You can follow me on Twitter: @GabeSalgado82

You can friend me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GabeSalgado82

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    Gabe Salgado

    Aside my columns for The Locker Room, I also write for many other outlets, and you can hear me on the radio. I co-host "The Sports Cypher" on WVON-AM every Sunday night from 9pm-11pm. You can also hear me every week on sportstownchicago.com. Follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82

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