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  • Writer's pictureThe Pawdcast

The Great 21st Century Division 1 Football Tournament

(Western Great Lakes region)

If you're new to following G21CD1FT (catchy, ain't it?), check out the full intro (and West region results) right here, and you can also see how the Coal region turned out before you see the winner in the championship bracket at the bottom of the page. For those needing just a quick refresher, the basics are: all 256 Division 1 football teams are sorted geographically into a giant bracket, with tournament results determined by real-life 21st-century results between teams when possible, simulated results when not.

Today we're taking on the Western Great Lakes region, which includes teams from Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, as well as Western Kentucky University. We've got some heavy hitters in Notre Dame and Wisconsin, some second-tier P5 programs like Northwestern and Purdue, and a pair of sometimes-dangerous G5s in WKU and Northern Illinois. Here's how the bracket shakes out:

All results are real games, unless denoted with (SIM)

*First Round results*

[2017 Illinois] 24


[2017 Ball State] 21

The 2017 Illini went 2-10, but one of those wins was this narrow victory over Ball State, despite getting outgained 375-216.

[2016 Illinois State] 50


[2016 Valparaiso] 13

The Redbirds outgained and outscored the Crusaders by better than triple for an easy first-round victory, setting up Illinois-Illinois State in the second round.

[2010 Purdue] 31


[2010 Western Illinois] 21

The Leathernecks scored first and put a bit of a scare into Purdue, but ultimately the Boilermaker rushing duo of Dan Dierking (102 yards, 2 TD) and Al-Terek McBurse (81 yards, TD) wouldn’t be denied.

[2019 Eastern Illinois] 0


[2019 Indiana] 52

The Hoosiers held the Panthers to just 5 first downs and quickly turned this one into a laugher.

[2019 Indiana State] 0


[2019 Notre Dame] 37

(SIM) The latest version of the Fighting Irish was never in any danger of being tripped up by the Sycamores.

[2004 Northern Illinois] 23


[2004 Southern Illinois] 22

Trailing by 14 early in the 4th quarter, the Salukis drew back within a point on a pair of TD passes from Joel Sambursky, but chose to go for two in the final minute of the game and couldn’t convert.

[2000 Butler] 0


[2000 Wisconsin] 70

(SIM) Seeing a Butler-Wisconsin matchup makes me want to see this play out in real life on the hardwood, but unfortunately for Butler this one took place on the virtual gridiron, and it was as ugly as expected.

[2012 Western Kentucky] 39


[2012 Northwestern] 42

(SIM) The virtual Hilltoppers, in the last year of the Willie Taggart era, put up a noble fight but come up just short.

*Second Round results*

[2003 Illinois] 49


[2003 Illinois State] 22

Once again Illinois is able to advance on the backs of a very bad team. The 2003 Illini went 1-11, but of course the one win was over the Redbirds, behind 4 TD passes from Jon Beutjer.

[2006 Purdue] 28


[2006 Indiana] 19

The Boilermakers somehow emerge victorious despite surrendering 505 yards of offense and Curtis Painter throwing 4 picks. The Hooisers fail on a 2-point conversion in the 4th quarter to tie, and a Dorien Bryant TD run on the other end seals the deal.

[2015 Notre Dame] 41


[2015 Northern Illinois] 21

(SIM) The luck of the Irish extends to Notre Dame drawing the 2015 version of the Huskies, whose run of five straight 11+ win seasons ended in 2014.

[2015 Wisconsin] 7


[2015 Northwestern] 13

In the most stereotypically Big Ten football game that has ever existed, a contest in which both teams combined for just 412 yards of total offense, the Wildcats edge the Badgers to advance to the regional semifinal. Justin Jackson rushes for 139 yards and Northwestern’s only TD.

*Semifinal results*

[2001 Illinois] 38


[2001 Purdue] 13

The best Illinois team of this century gets its number called in the semi-finals and does not disappoint, winning comfortably despite losing the turnover battle 6-4. Kurt Kittner throws for 299 yards and a couple scores in a winning effort.

[2018 Notre Dame] 31


[2018 Northwestern] 21

The Fighting Irish and Wildcats split their two meetings this century, but the luck of the Irish wins out once again, as the 2018 matchup gets drawn. Ian Book compiles 399 yards of total offense and 3 scores for Notre Dame.

*Regional Final*

[2005 Illinois] 43


[2005 Notre Dame] 44

(SIM) Illinois-Notre Dame just sounds like a blowout on paper, and Massey had the Irish as a 30-point favorite in this particular matchup, but the final score came out remarkably close. Ultimately, Illinois’ improbable run through the bracket finally comes to an end, and Notre Dame is your Western Great Lakes region champ.

You can tell I'm not juking the results, as our regional winners so far are USC, Penn State, and now Notre Dame, all schools I have always enjoyed rooting against. However, if you're getting tired of chalky results, we've got the Florida-Georgia region coming up on Thursday, and I promise, no matter how you think that region is going to turn out, you are wrong.


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