Sept. 5, 2011
Northwestern (1-0) vs. Eastern Illinois (1-0)
2:30 p.m. CT Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011
Ryan Field (47,130) Evanston, Ill.
Radio: ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM), WNUR (89.3 FM), Sirius (Ch. 128)
Internet: wgnradio.com, wnur.org
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Coach Fitzgerald Monday News Conference Transcript Skip Myslenski Blog
For the second straight year, Northwestern makes its home debut against an in-state Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) squad, as Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference visits Ryan Field at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Both teams are in position to move to 2-0 with a win.
Northwestern's week one victory at Boston College was not lacking in story lines or tension. With Dan Persa unable to make the start at quarterback, sophomore Kain Colter stepped in and directed NU to a 24-17 victory, the seventh straight opening-day win for NU and the sixth under Pat Fitzgerald. The 'Cats also improved to 9-1 overall in their last 10 regular-season nonconference outings.
Northwestern continued its winning ways away from home with the win in Chestnut Hill. Since 2008, the Wildcats have gone 12-5 outside of Evanston (true road games), with eight of the 'Cats' 12 wins during that span coming against Big Ten opponents. Northwestern is coming off its third straight season with a winning road record having gone 4-2 in 2010.
After spending much of 2010 searching for a consistent running attack, Northwestern has now surpassed 200 yards rushing as a team in back-to-back contests for the first time since the final two games of 2003. NU totaled 229 ground yards in the TicketCity Bowl to close last season and went for 227 Saturday against the Eagles. That sum marked the first time since October, 2009, that Boston College allowed an opponent to go over 200 yards rushing.
Northwestern and Eastern Illinois are meeting for the first time. The Wildcats have never played any of the 11 current members of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Eastern Illinois is the seventh FCS (formerly known as Division I-AA) opponent to visit Evanston but is the first representative from the Ohio Valley Conference ever to line up against Northwestern. After defeating Illinois State by a wide margin in 2010, the Wildcats have won their last four games against FCS foes by a combined score of 144-24.
The Panthers posted a noteworthy win in their 2011 opener, holding on down the stretch to drop Illinois State in the 100th playing of the Mid-America Classic, 33-26. Two interceptions by EIU's Nick Martinez in just the last 2:26 of the game sealed the win for head coach Bob Spoo, now in his 25th and final season at the helm of the Panthers. Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo topped 300 yards on 25-of-34 passing on the day with three TD's, including the go-ahead score with 2:10 remaining.
Gameday Events and Ticket Info
On Saturday at Ryan Field, Northwestern will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On site will be the fire truck from FDNY's Rescue 4, the only remaining first-responder fire truck from the World Trade Center.
The game also represents the second annual Evanston Day at Ryan Field, with all Evanston residents eligible to purchase half-priced end zone tickets for $17. To gear up for Evanston Day, NU football players will visit local schools this week to read to and engage students. The team also will attend a "Paint Evanston Purple" pep rally scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Independence Park. Ticket info: 888-GO PURPLE
(For a complete set of game notes, download the PDF above.)
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