Sep 1, 2013
Box Score |
No. 22/22 Northwestern 34, Mississippi State 20
California Memorial Stadium Berkeley, Calif.
Northwestern Postgame Notes
Northwestern began its 126th season of competition by playing a BCS opponent on the road in the season-opener for a third consecutive year. The Wildcats had won all four of those previous contests (Vanderbilt, Boston College, Syracuse) and came into the game with a 7-0 record in season-openers under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Saturday marked the first game in the state of California for Northwestern Football since the 1996 Rose Bowl, the culmination of a dream season led by current head coach and Hall-of-Fame linebacker Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats began this season with a 17-10 record away from Ryan Field since the beginning of 2008.
Northwestern's win in Pac-12 country is notable considering the difficulty Big Ten teams have had in true road games against the Pac-12 -- including Saturday's outcome, the Big Ten is now 6-17 in such scenarios since 2000.
The meeting between Northwestern and Cal was the second in the schools' respective histories and the first since NU defeated the Bears in the 1949 Rose Bowl. The coach for Cal in that game was the legendary Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf, who also served as head coach of the Wildcats from 1935-46. Waldorf held the Northwestern record for most career wins by a head coach until Fitzgerald surpassed him with NU's victory in last season's TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
Northwestern has had two interception returns for touchdown in the same game on one prior occasion: the 2005 Sun Bowl against UCLA, when both Kevin Mims and Nick Roach turned the trick.
With three interceptions against Cal, Northwestern's defense now boasts 12 total interceptions over the last four games it has played. In three of those four games, the Wildcats have returned at least one of those picks for a TD.
The Wildcats scored in double figures for a 74th consecutive game.
Junior LB Collin Ellis turned the tide of the game with a pair of second-half interceptions returned for touchdowns, the first from 56 yards and the second from 40 yards out. They were the first two interceptions of his career and made him the first Wildcat with two picks in the same game since Ibraheim Campbell vs. Michigan in 2011.
According to STATS LLC, Ellis is the first Big Ten player to record two interception returns for scores since the organization began tracking conference statistics in 1996. The last FBS player to notch the feat was Fresno State's Philip Thomas vs. Colorado on Sept. 15, 2012.
Junior QB Trevor Siemian began the game by completing 10 of his first 11 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, and ultimately finished with 276 yards through the air on 18-0f-29 passing.
Junior RB Treyvon Green ran for a career high 129 yards on 16 carries (8.1 average). His previous single-game best of 70 yards was posted against Eastern Illinois in his second career game on Sept. 10, 2011. Green also notched his first career two-touchdown performance.
True sophomore superback Dan Vitale hauled in five passes for 101 yards (20.2 average), the second time in his young career he has surpassed 100 yards receiving in a game. Vitale set a career high of 110 receiving yards vs. Michigan State last season, which also was NU's last 100-yard receiving performance by an individual before tonight.
Senior DE Tyler Scott sacked Cal QB Jared Goff on the final play of the third quarter, raising his career total to 11.0 and moving into a tie for seventh on the Wildcats career sacks list.
Senior PK Jeff Budzien was true on all three of his field goal attempts on the evening (35, 19, 32 yards). Budzien's 14 total points on the evening brought his career total to 190, moving him past Ira Adler (1987-90) for seventh on NU's all-time points list. Budzien is now 28-of-33 (.848) on field goal attempts in his career.
RS Fr. DL Ifeadi Odenigbo recorded his first career sack in the second quarter.
Three Wildcats sustained injuries in the first half that prevented them from returning to the game: QB Kain Colter, CB Daniel Jones and CB Matthew Harris.