Aug. 29, 2011
Northwestern (0-0, 7-6 in 2010) at Boston College (0-0, 7-6 in 2010)
11 a.m. CT Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011
Alumni Stadium (44,500) Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Radio: ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM), WNUR (89.3 FM), Sirius (Ch. 92), XM Satellite (Ch. 91)
Internet: wgnradio.com, wnur.org
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald aims to continue his run of five straight wins in season-openers when his Wildcats begin the 2011 campaign Saturday at Boston College. NU has began the year 1-0 in 12 of the last 16 seasons, with five of those victories coming on the road.
2011 represents the third time in four years Northwestern has kicked off a season against a BCS conference opponent. The 'Cats won on both of the previous two occasions, handling Syracuse in 2008 and holding off SEC foe Vanderbilt on the road last season. Excluding bowl games, Northwestern is 3-2 in nonconference outings against BCS opponents under Pat Fitzgerald. NU is 8-1 overall in its last nine regular-season contests against nonconference opponents.
In recent years, Pat Fitzgerald's squads have fared extremely well away from home. Northwestern posted its third straight winning road record (4-2) in 2010. Since 2008, the Wildcats have gone 11-5 outside of Evanston, with eight of the Wildcats' 11 wins during that span coming against Big Ten opponents.
NU is in the midst of perhaps the most successful era in its football history having appeared in three straight bowl games. The 'Cats' total of 24 wins since 2008 ties them with Boston College and four other schools for 29th-most victories among all FBS schools in that span.
Northwestern will field one of its deepest squads in 2011 as 55 letterwinners return from last year's 7-6 team that played in the TicketCity Bowl on New Year's Day. After graduating just 14 players from last year's squad, NU now features 21 seniors and 23 juniors. Northwestern has 18 starters back in 2011--nine on offense, seven on defense and two on special teams. Seven of the 16 returning offensive and defensive starters are linemen.
At the start of the 2011 season, NU boasts 31 offensive and defensive players who have made a combined 378 career starts. That is a significant jump from last season, when 30 players with starting experience combined for 276 starts at the year's outset.
A quick glance at the percentage of Northwestern's 2010 offensive production returning this season tells the story of its game experience. The 'Cats bring back 82.6 percent of their rushing yardage (1,674 of 2,027), 100 percent of their passing yardage (3,057 of 3,057) and 83.0 percent of their receiving yardage (2,537 of 3,057) from a year ago.
Series Record: Northwestern leads, 2-1
Last Meeting: Sept. 18, 1993 -- NU 22, Boston College 21 (Evanston)
Evanston Day at Ryan Field on Sept. 10
The Sept. 10 home opener vs. Eastern Illinois is Evanston Day at Ryan Field, which will be preceded on Thursday, Sept. 8, by a "Paint Evanston Purple" pep rally at Independence Park on Central Street (6 p.m.). Evanston residents are invited to purchase a half-price ticket to the game for $17. Season tickets and group seating options for the 2011 season may still be purchased online (NUsports.com) or by calling NU's ticket office at 1-888-GO-PURPLE.
(For a complete set of game notes, download the PDF above.)
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