Oct. 1, 2012
No. 24/22 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) at Penn State (3-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Oct. 6 11 a.m. CT
Beaver Stadium (107,282) University Park, Pa.
TV: ESPN (Crew: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Jenn Brown)
Radio: 720 WGN (Chicagoland) (Dave Eanet, Ted Albrecht) and WNUR (89.3 FM)
Live Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE | Gametracker
Northwestern vs. Penn State -- Weekly Release | 2012 Northwestern Football Yearbook
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Skip Myslenski Blog: Upon Further Review
At 5-0 on the year, No. 24/22 Northwestern goes on the road for the first time since its Sept. 1 season-opener to face Penn State in University Park, Pa. (11 a.m. CT, ESPN).
Northwestern debuted in the national rankings this week thanks to its third 5-0 start in the last five years. NU, which along with Nebraska is one of two ranked Big Ten teams, checked in at No. 24 in the AP poll (143 votes) and No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches rankings (202 votes).
A victory over the Nittany Lions Saturday would give the Wildcats their first 6-0 start to a season since 1962, which also was the last year in which NU was ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Northwestern has been able to win consistently away from Ryan Field under Pat Fitzgerald, posting a 15-8 record in true road games since 2008. NU is 9-5 in its last 14 Big Ten away games.
NU is coming off a school-record-setting performance against Indiana when it racked up 704 yards of total offense (394 rushing, 308 passing), eclipsing the previous mark of 674 set vs. Wisconsin in 2005. It ranks as the eighth-best single-game total in the nation this season and the most by a Big Ten team since Michigan recorded 721 vs. Bowling Green on Sept. 25, 2010.
Running the Spread, and the Ball
More commonly known for its spread passing attack, Northwestern has dictated games this year by dominating in the running game. Spearheaded by RB Venric Mark, RB Mike Trumpy and QB Kain Colter, the 2012 Wildcats have averaged 255.8 rushing yards per game, with the aforementioned trio averaging better than 5.5 yards per attempt on their 202 combined carries. With Mark and Colter each surpassing the 100-yard plateau against Indiana, Northwestern has now had a total of five 100-yard individual rushing performances in the last four games. Saturday marked the first time since Nov. 20, 2003, that two NU players rushed for 100 yards in the same game (Noah Herron and Jason Wright vs. Illinois). A bit more on NU's prolific ground game this season:
Northwestern's 394 rushing yards against Indiana were the most for the Wildcats since notching 444 in the 2003 Illinois game detailed above.
Northwestern stands second in the conference and ninth nationally in rushing offense (255.8)
is fourth in the Big Ten with 107.6 yards per game on the ground, contributing to his 176.8 all-purpose yards per game (second in Big Ten, ninth nationally).
NU attempted 60 rushing plays in the win over Boston College--the most running plays by a Big Ten team this season--and has followed that with 53 against South Dakota and 58 vs. Indiana.
Red Zone Runnin'
Northwestern, which is 23-of-25 in the red zone this year with 13 TDs, enters its matchup with Penn State having scored 13 consecutive rushing touchdowns. NU's last passing TD coming as the game-winner at Syracuse (Sept. 1) with 44 seconds remaining.
Putting Up Zeroes
With seven games still remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Northwestern defense has completed seven quarters in which it has held the opposing offense scoreless, already 70 percent of the number (10) it posted in 13 games a year ago. The 2012 Wildcats, who have held opponents scoreless in the first half of the last two games, also boast an additional four quarters in which it has surrendered only a field goal.
Northwestern-Penn State Series Information
All-Time Series Record: Penn State leads, 12-3-0
Series at Penn State: Penn State leads, 6-1
Last Meeting: Oct. 22, 2011
Penn State 34, Northwestern 24
This is 16th all-time meeting between Northwestern and Penn State, with the Wildcats aiming to snap a five-game PSU winning streak in the series. NU's last victory came in 2004 in Happy Valley, a 14-7 outcome.
Each of the last three meetings with PSU have seen Northwestern play well enough to hold a halftime lead before the Nittany Lions respond to ultimately pull out a victory:
Northwestern boasts eight players on its roster from Pennsylvania, five of whom were among NU's 21 freshman signees last February. The other three are regular contributors to Northwestern's defense: starting DE Quentin Williams (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic), starting S Ibraheim Campbell (Philadelphia, Pa./Chestnut Hill Academy) and reserve LB Timmy Vernon (Fort Washington, Pa./Germantown Academy).
PSU linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Northwestern from 1992-96, coaching Pat Fitzgerald to back-to-back Bednarik and Nagurski Awards in 1995 and 1996 as the nation's top defensive player.
Download the complete game notes and weekly release, linked in PDF form at the top of the page.
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