Oct. 2, 2013
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's 2013 Big Ten Conference season begins under the brightest of spotlights Saturday when the Wildcats, ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches poll, host fourth-ranked Ohio State on Homecoming weekend at Ryan Field. The matchup is Northwestern's fourth primetime kickoff of the year (7 p.m. CT) and will be carried live to a national TV audience on ABC, with legendary Northwestern alum Brent Musburger and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit handling play-by-play and color analyst duties, respectively.
Adding to the palpable buzz in Evanston surrounding today's game was the presence of two of the most popular shows in sports broadcasting live from Northwestern's campus. On Friday, ESPN's Mike and Mike in the Morning, hosted by Mike Golic and Northwestern alum Mike Greenberg, took to the airwaves from NU's scenic Deering Meadow on Sheridan Road.
Then on Saturday, Northwestern welcomed Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and the rest of the crew of ESPN College GameDay for a live three-hour telecast, with fans flocking to a set built steps from Lake Michigan. It was the third time College GameDay had visited the Wildcats, first doing so in Evanston on Nov. 11, 1995, prior to a win over Iowa, and again in Chicago for the Allstate Wrigleyville Classic on Nov. 20, 2010.
Gameday Promotions (Call 888-GO-PURPLE for more information on any of the following promotions):
Wildcat Alley Fan Fest Presented by Cricket Wireless: Wildcat Alley is the FREE pregame fan fest area located only 100 yards northeast of Ryan Field. Wildcat Alley opens three hours before kickoff at each home game. Wildcat Alley is fun for guests of all ages and features interactive games, face painting, giveaways, Willie the Wildcat, cheerleaders, a performance by the Northwestern marching band and much more. For more information on Wildcat Alley or the new Wildcat Alley Tailgate Garden, CLICK HERE
Fans are reminded that parking in the lots on the east and west sides of Ryan Field is restricted only to season ticket holders who are in possession of a season-long parking pass. If you do not have a parking pass, please head directly to the FREE lots on campus to park. Please be advised that due to ongoing construction on Northwestern's lakefront campus -- specifically at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatic Center -- parking will be limited this fall. All free lots on campus are available on a first-come, first-earned basis, and tailgating IS permitted in these lots. Free shuttles run between campus and Ryan Field before, during and after games.
Additionally, Ryan Field is conveniently located less than three blocks away from both the CTA Purple Line (Central Street station) and the Metra (Central Street/Evanston Station). Visit transitchicago.com or metrarail.com for gameday transit schedules.
Northwestern Game Notes
These two teams own a combined record of 24-0 in the last 24 games they have played dating to last season. Ohio State's current 17-game winning streak is the longest active streak in FBS football, while Northwestern's seven in a row are tied for the fourth-best active streak in the nation.
A Northwestern victory over Ohio State would give Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald his fourth 5-0 start to a season in his eight years at the helm of his alma mater. The Wildcats opened 5-0 in 2008, 2010 and 2012 before falling in the season's sixth game on all three occasions.
NU enters today's game having scored at least 30 points in six straight games going back to last season, the longest such streak in school history and tied for the third-longest active streak in the nation. The 2013 'Cats also have set a school mark with four straight 30-point outings; Northwestern's previous record of three 30-point games to begin a year was established in 1962, the same year NU rose to a No. 1 national ranking under head coach Ara Parseghian. Northwestern also has scored at least 21 points in 18 straight games, a streak that began in the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Northwestern, tied for first nationally with 2.5 INTs per game, has scored 59 points off its 11 forced turnovers (35.8 percent of points scored). That number includes four interception returns for touchdowns in four games, already a Northwestern single-season record. There's no question that the pressure applied by NU's defensive front four has been a catalyst for NU's success intercepting the opposition. Senior DE and Ohio native Tyler Scott, who began the year as the Big Ten's returning sack leader after collecting 9.0 in 2012, again is alone in first place in the conference with 3.0 solo sacks (0.75 per game). He now has 13.0 in his career, good for sixth on Northwestern's all-time list.
There is a substantial ongoing tie between Northwestern and one of the most successful eras in Ohio State football history. Northwestern's Football Performance (formerly Strength and Conditioning) staff consists of three former Buckeyes strength coaches and is headed by Jay Hooten, now in his fourth year in Evanston. Hooten spent six years as a performance assistant in Columbus, helping OSU to three Big Ten titles and the 2002 national championship. Hooten then came to NU and brought aboard his former boss and mentor at OSU, Allan Johnson, as well as Buckeyes alum and former strength assistant Troy Sutton.
Wildcats, Buckeyes Share Similar Experience in Berkeley
Both Northwestern and Ohio State have played one road game thus far in 2013, each taking trips west to Berkeley to face Sonny Dykes' Cal Golden Bears in games that featured more than a few similarities. The Wildcats kicked off their season with a hard-fought 44-30 victory at California Memorial Stadium, while OSU left Cal with a 52-34 win on Sept. 14.
Moreover, both teams were forced to face the Bears without their respective starting quarterbacks, with NU's Kain Colter suffering a game-ending injury on the first drive of the game and OSU's Braxton Miller sitting out due to an injury sustained the week prior. The teams' backup QBs shined in both instances as Northwestern's Trevor Siemian and Ohio State's Kenny Guiton each threw for exactly 276 yards, combining for 552 yards on 39-of-61 passing with five touchdowns. A dynamic Cal offense managed over 500 yards of total offense against both NU and OSU defenses.
The 'Cats and Buckeyes also were without the full-time services of their respective starting tailbacks, Venric Mark and Carlos Hyde.
Ohio State Notes
No. 4/3 Ohio State remained undefeated under second-year head coach Urban Meyer last weekend, holding off Wisconsin, 31-24, in the Buckeyes' Big Ten-opener in Columbus. OSU has won all 17 games it has played since Meyer's arrival, doing so this year with a high-powered offense averaging 501.2 yards of total offense per game.
Seniors Jordan Hall (427 yards, 8 TDs) and Carlos Hyde (126 yards in 2 games) are Ohio State's most experienced rushers. Junior QB Braxton Miller -- Ohio State's all-time leading rusher among QBs (2,151 yards) -- has rushed for 165 yards in a little more than eight quarters of play this season. He returned from a knee injury last Saturday vs. Wisconsin, completing 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards and a career-high tying four TDs. He also rushed for 83 yards on 22 carries.
Download the complete Northwestern and Ohio State game notes packets in PDF form at the top of this release.
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