Sept. 13, 2000
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY at TCU
DATE/TIME: Sept. 16, 2000/11:00 a.m. CT
SITE: Amon G. Carter Stadium (grass/46,000)
TV: Fox Sports Net
RADIO: WGN (720 AM)
Northwestern will be attempting to go 3-0 for the first time since 1962 this weekend at TCU, which is ranked 20th in this week's Associated Press poll. That 1962 Wildcat team, under head coach Ara Parseghian, won its first six games en route to a 7-2 record.
Last Saturday, Northwestern spotted Duke the first two points of the game, but took complete control after that in rolling to a 38-5 victory at Ryan Field. The 38 points marked the most for an NU team since a 47-21 win over Hawaii on Nov. 21, 1998, while the 472 yards of total offense was its best output since a 26-24 win over Minnesota on Oct. 12, 1996.
Damien Anderson had a standout day, rushing 21 times for a career-high 187 yards. He set a personal best in the first quarter when he went around left end for a 56-yard touchdown, then bettered it in spectacular fashion in the fourth quarter, turning a broken play to the right side into a 66-yard TD run down the left sideline. Anderson moved into sixth place on the school's all-time rushing list and now has 1,940 career yards. He needs just seven yards this weekend to move into fifth place and 76 to move into fourth place.
As a team, Northwestern ran for 259 yards, its best total in a game since Nov. 9, 1996 (297 against Iowa). In two games this season, the Wildcats have gained 495 yards rushing.
A varied Wildcat passing game was again on display. Zak Kustok completed 16 passes to seven different receivers, including four apiece to Sam Simmons -- one for a 26-yard touchdown -- and Derrick Thompson. Kustok has completed 16 passes in each of the last two games, tying a personal best, and on Saturday set a personal high with 197 passing yards.
The defense also had a big day against the Blue Devils. In all, the Wildcats picked off four passes, their best total since the Hawaii win in 1998. Harold Blackmon had two of the picks, giving him three already this season and eight for his career which ties him for sixth on the school's all-time career list. Napoleon Harris and Raheem Covington were the other Wildcats with interceptions Saturday. The defense also had six sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
THE SERIES WITH TCU
Northwestern leads, 1-0
Previous Meeting: Sept. 11, 1999 (Northwestern, 17-7)
This will be Northwestern's ninth game against a team from the Western Athletic Conference, and the fourth in three years. The Wildcats are 3-5 all-time against the WAC (1-4 vs. Rice, 1-0 vs. TCU, 1-0 vs. Hawaii, 0-1 vs. SMU), but the three wins have come in the last three opportunities -- in 1998 NU defeated Rice (23-14) and Hawaii (47-21), and last year the Wildcats downed TCU (17-7).
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS
This will be Northwestern's fourth trip to the state of Texas -- and the first for a game against a team other than Rice. All-time, NU is 3-5 against schools located in the Lone Star State. The Wildcats are 1-4 against Rice, 1-0 against both TCU and Texas, and 0-1 against Southern Methodist. The three previous outings in Texas:
Oct. 14, 1967 -- Rice 50, Northwestern 6 (in hnouston)
Sept. 22, 1990 -- Rice 31, Northwestern 14 (in Houston)
Sept. 19, 1998 -- Northwestern 23, Rice 14 (in Houston)
A SORT OF HOMECOMING
Today's game marks a return to the home state for four Wildcats -- second-team All-Big Ten defensive end Dwayne Missouri (San Antonio/Roosevelt), sophomore tight end David Farman (Austin/Westwood), redshirt freshman Carl Matejka (Houston/Clear Brook), and true freshman wide receiver Roger Jordan (League City/Clear Creek). Two others, Chris Jones (Garland/South Garland) and Colby Clark (Austin/Westlake), did not make the trip.
WHOM DO YOU CHOOSE?
Today's game features two of the top returning rushers from last year. Northwestern's Damien Anderson ranked eighth, averaging 102.5 yards per game in 1999. The leading returning rusher will be on the opposite sideline -- LaDainian Tomlinson of TCU. The two of them have gotten off to fast starts again in 2000: Anderson has 275 yards and four touchdowns in two games, despite sitting out the second half against Northern Illinois. Tomlinson ran for 176 yards and three TDs in the Horned Frogs' opener vs. Nevada.
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU - 268 rushes for 1,850 yards (168.18 avg.)
2. Jordon, Maryland - 266 for 1,632 (148.36)
3. Simonton, Oreg. St. - 276 for 1,329 (120.82)
4. Thomas, Michigan - 283 for 1,257 (114.27)
5. Cobourne, WVU - 224 for 1,139 (113.90)
6. Taylor, Toledo - 182 for 1,176 (106.91)
7. Mitchell, Texas - 255 for 1,346 (103.54)
8. Damien Anderson, NU - 306 for 1,128 (102.55)
A LOOK BACK AT NORTHWESTERN'S WIN OVER DUKE
* Northwestern is 2-0 to start the regular season for the first time since 1975.
* As a result of its 2-0 start, Northwestern received two voting points in this week's USA Today/ESPN National Poll.
* Northwestern has broken the 30-point barrier in back-to-back games for the first time since 1996, when the 'Cats downed Air Force (30-6) and Indiana (31-7).
* Northwestern's 38 points marked the best for an NU team since a 47-21 win over Hawaii on Nov. 21, 1998.
* Northwestern has scored 73 points in two games so far in 2000. Last year, the Wildcats totaled 72 points in their first five games.
* Northwestern's 472 yards of total offense was its best output since a 26-24 win over Minnesota on Oct. 12, 1996.
* As a team, Northwestern ran for 259 yards, its best total in a game since Nov. 9, 1996 (297 against Iowa). In two games this season, the Wildcats have gained 495 yards rushing.
* WR Kunle Patrick scored for the first time in his college career.
* RB Damien Anderson moved into sixth place on Northwestern's all-time rushing list with 1,940. He needs just seven yards to move into fifth place.
* Anderson established a career best with a 56-yard touchdown run in the first quarter -- then bettered it in the fourth quarter with a 66-yard TD scamper.
* For the second straight week, QB Zak Kustok tied a career-high with 16 completions. He also established a career high with 197 yards passing.
* DE Dwayne Missouri had another tackle-for-loss, giving him 31 for his career. He is fifth on Northwestern's all-time list.
* CB Harold Blackmon had two interceptions, giving him three for the season and eight for his career. He is now tied for sixth on the school's all-time INT list.
* Northwestern picked off four passes, the first time that has happened since 1998 (Nov. 21 at Hawaii). Northwestern has now picked off at least two passes in three straight games dating back to last season.
* Northwestern did not commit a turnover for the first time in nine games.
HEAD COACH RANDY WALKER
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and with Thursday night's win has guided the Wildcats to a 5-8 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 64-43-5 in his 11th year as a head coach.
Walker came to Evanston with an impressive coaching resume already intact. The 46-year-old Walker, who had coached Miami (Ohio) University for nine seasons, departed Oxford as the winningest head coach in school history. His mark at Miami of 59-35-5 (.621) is even more impressive when you consider the coaching greats which Miami had produced: Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler...and the list goes on.
Walker graduated from Miami in 1976 with a B.A. in social studies education and earned a master's degree in educational administration from his alma mater in 1981. He starred for MU as a fullback, leading them to three-straight Tangerine Bowl victories.
Upon graduation, Walker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals, but returned to Miami to help as a graduate assistant and the next year became a full-time assistant in charge of running backs under Dick Crum. When Coach Crum departed for North Carolina, Walker joined him and spent the next 10 seasons as a Tar Heel. He coached various positions, ending up as the offensive coordinator. From there, he spent two seasons as Northwestern's running backs coach (1988-89) and, in 1990, took over as the head coach at Miami.
TOUGH SCHEDULE AGAIN IN 2000
Northwestern heads into the teeth of its schedule this weekend, hitting the road for three straight games against teams ranked in this week's Associated Press poll. In fact, in the next nine games, the Wildcats will face six teams that are ranked by the AP this week. Eight of the nine remaining teams had winning records in 1999, and seven of them played in postseason bowl games. Only South Carolina (9) and Notre Dame (8) faced more bowl-bound teams than Northwestern in 1999. Sports Illustrated ranked Northwestern's 2000 schedule the seventh toughest in the nation.
ALL-BIG TEN HONORS
Five Wildcat players were accorded All-Big Ten honors in 1999, four of whom return for 2000. Defensive end Dwayne Missouri was second-team selection by both the coaches and media. Running back Damien Anderson and linebacker Kevin Bentley both earned second-team accolades from the media and honorable mention status from the league's coaches. Cornerback Harold Blackmon was a consensus honorable mention pick. The only departure is Jay Tant, who was named honorable mention tight end by both groups.
Austin King, who started nine contests in 1999 as a true freshman, snagged second-team All-American honors by Football News. He will anchor a seasoned offensive line this season.
Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern's two deep in 1999, an amazing 35 return in 2000?
AND THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT
The 2000 edition of Northwestern football figures to remain largely intact when the 2001 season rolls around. Only nine players (5 defense, 3 offense, 1 special teams) on the current roster of 87 are slated to depart Evanston at the end of the season. They are: Harold Blackmon (CB), Javiar Collins (DL), Conrad Emmerich (DL), Jack Harnedy (OL), Teddy Johnson (WR), Tim Long (PK), Dwayne Missouri (DL), Rashad Morton (FS) and Derrick Thompson (WR).
COULDN'T CATCH A BREAK IN 1999
Injuries plagued the Wildcat wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks the entire 1999 season. The corps became so depleted that many times a walk-on or third or fourth string player lined up for NU. At wide receiver, Sam Simmons (fractured clavicle) and Jon Schweighardt (fractured elbow) were both lost for the season in the Iowa game. Teddy Johnson, who had a stress fracture in his shin and missed the first two games, played with a viral infection in the Wisconsin game and saw action in only two quarters, then suffered a concussion in the second quarter at Michigan and subsequently missed the Michigan State game. Rob Johnson fractured his left wrist in the Minnesota contest and missed the next four games. Derrick Thompson fractured his rib in the Minnesota contest, but continued to play the remainder of the season. At tight end, John Cerasani played with a chronic ankle sprain for six weeks, Corbett Elsen had a nerve root irritation and missed four games, and Jay Tant played with a hamstring strain all season and suffered a concussion versus Indiana. At fullback, Ian Miller suffered a concussion in the TCU game and missed the next three games. At Michigan, Miller again suffered a concussion and missed the remainder of the season.
BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
One of last year's major injuries was Sam Simmons, but the junior has bounced back in a big way in 2000. He was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after totalling 211 all-purpose yards against Northern Illinois (one reception for 40 yards, four punt returns for 102 yards, and three kickoff returns for 69 yards). Last weekend against Duke, he tied for the team lead with four catches for 62 yards -- including a 26-yard TD -- and totaled 65 yards on five returns (4 punt, 1 kickoff).
RUNNING BACK U.
Northwestern holds the distinction of being the only school in the Big Ten during the last five seasons to have three different running backs rush for 1,000 yards. In 1995 and 1996, Darnell Autry rushed for 1,785 and 1,452 yards, respectively, while in 1997, Adrian Autry amassed 1,049 yards on the ground. This past season, Damien Anderson accumulated 1,128 rushing yards. In that same span, only one other Big Ten school has had four seasons with a player rushing for 1,000 yards -- Ron Dayne of Wisconsin did it each of the last four years.
D.A. IS ON THE CASE
Damien Anderson rushed for a career-high 1,128 yards in 1999. In doing so, he became the fourth Wildcat running back in the last five years to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season (Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry broke the barrier in 1997). Anderson became the seventh Wildcat overall to gain entry into the elite club. Anderson ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 25th in the country with a 102.5 yards per game average in 1999. In addition, he finished fifth in the conference and 44th nationally in all-purpose yards at 119.3 per game. The media tabbed Anderson second-team All-Big Ten, while the coaches chose him as an honorable mention running back. Last weekend, Anderson ran for a career-high 187 yards, the seventh 100-yard game of his career. He accomplished the feat five times in 1999 (Miami/129, Purdue/150, Iowa/162, Wisconsin/102 and Illinois/123) and came close on two other occasions (98 vs. TCU and 91 vs. Indiana). A junior eligible, Anderson's career rushing mark of 1,940 yards already ranks him sixth on NU's all-time list, and he needs just seven yards to move into fifth place and 76 to move into fourth. In addition, his 1,128 yards in 1999 ranks fifth best on the Wildcat all-time single season chart.
Northwestern believes that its linebacker corps is among the best in the Big Ten, and their performances in the first two games have done nothing to dissuade the argument. Last weekend, Napoleon Harris had an interception, and the trio combined for 29 tackles (Kevin Bentley 7-3-10, Billy Silva 6-3-9, Harris 5-4-9). Against Northern Illinois, they all figured in a fumble recovery (Silva made the hit to force the fumble deep in NU territory, Harris batted the ball away from NIU players, and Bentley recovered it), and Silva added an interception. They also combined for 23 tackles (Harris 5-5-10, Silva 3-4-7, Bentley 3-3-6). Currently, they rank 2-3-4 on the team in tackles (Harris 10-9-19, Bentley 10-6-16, Silva 9-7-16).
BENTLEY DRIVES THE D
Unofficially, Kevin Bentley ranked fifth in tackles in Division I-A in 1999. His 148 stops were behind Keith Adams of Clemson (176), Jeff Ulbrich of Hawaii (169), Brian Urlacher of New Mexico (154) and Donald McCall of E. Michigan (154). Bentley's tackle total in 1999 led the Big Ten, as did his per-game average (13.5). For his efforts, the media voted him to the All-Big Ten second team, while the coaches gave him honorable mention status. Making tackles was not all that Bentley did. He intercepted a Drew Brees pass for a 40-yard touchdown, collected another INT versus Iowa (which eventually led to a TD) and forced a fumble from Ron Dayne which led to a field goal. Bentley had three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, 10 TFLs and two fumble recoveries. His best game of the season came against Indiana when he registered a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo efforts.
HARRIS & MORTON GO OVER 100
Linebacker Napoleon Harris and free safety Rashad Morton also went over the century mark in tackles last season. "Napo" tallied 110 total tackles, which was sixth in the Big Ten, and finished third in the conference in tackles per game (11.0). Morton, meanwhile, registered 103 tackles which tied him for eighth in place in the conference standings.
THE SHOW-ME DEFENSIVE END
Defensive end Dwayne Missouri has two tackles-for-loss this season, giving him 31 for his career and putting him fifth on Northwestern's all-time list in that category. Last year, Missouri had 20 TFLs, the second-best mark in school history. If he duplicates that total in 2000, he will finish second on NU's all-time TFL chart behind Casey Dailey, who racked up 53 from 1994-97. Missouri was a second-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and the media.
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO...
Northwestern had eight pass breakups against Duke, giving them 14 through two games and continuing a tradition that began a year ago. In 1999, Northwestern shattered the team record for pass breakups in a season with 60. That was 16 more than the old record of 44 which was set in 1996.
AND BLACKMON KNOWS THAT BETTER THAN ANYBODY
After assaulting the pass breakup portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999, senior Harold Blackmon has picked up where he left off. He has two PBUs in 2000, giving him 28 for his career which is already the school's all-time record. Last year, Blackmon had 17 PBUs, breaking the single-season record of 13 set by Rodney Ray in 1994. Blackmon, who also has three interceptions already in 2000, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the media and coaches last year.
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Northwestern was one of 27 schools to receive honorable mention status from the American Football Coaches Association for having a graduation rate of 70 percent or better. The Wildcats' graduation rate was 91 percent for its 1994-95 freshman class. Syracuse University won the Academic Achievement Award with a graduation rate of 100 percent. Northwestern won the prestigious award in 1998 with a 100 percent graduating percentage.
Northwestern has 23 players on its 2000 roster from the Chicagoland area. They are: Dan Pohlman (Barrington), Harold Blackmon, Jack Harnedy, J.J. Standring (Chicago), Tom Fluegge (Crystal Lake), Doug Szymul (Des Plaines), Napoleon Harris (Dixmoor), Teddy Johnson (Elgin), Derrick Thompson (Harvey), Bob Barz (Lisle), Pete Konopka (Marengo), Don Baskin, Brian Dugal, Ben Kennedy (Naperville), Zak Kustok, Jeff Roehl (Orland Park), Steve Natali (Park Ridge), Torri Stuckey (Robbins), Pat Durr, Gabe Nyenhuis (St. Charles), Brian Huffman (Schaumburg), Matt Ulrich (Streamwood) and Jon Schweighardt (Wheaton).
BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPIONS IN THE 1990s
Northwestern was one of only three schools to win back-to-back Big Ten Championships in the 1990s. Michigan and Wisconsin were the other member institutions to do so. In addition, Northwestern, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin were the only teams to win Big Ten championships outright and only NU, Michigan and Penn State earned rings with perfect 8-0 slates.
Northwestern plays at No. 4 Wisconsin next Saturday, Sept. 23, in Madison. Kickoff for that game is set for 11 a.m. Central and the game will be broadcast by ESPN Plus. This will be the second of three straight road games against ranked teams for the Wildcats.