Oct. 3, 2011
NU FB vs. Michigan -- Game Notes
Coach Fitzgerald Weekly News Conference Transcript
Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) vs. No. 12/11 Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten)
6 p.m. CT Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011
Ryan Field (47,130) Evanston, Ill.
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: ESPN1000, WNUR (89.3 FM), Sirius (Channels 85 and 94)
Internet: WGNradio.com, WNUR.org
In-game Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern makes its Big Ten home debut under the lights Saturday night when it welcomes undefeated and 12th-ranked Michigan to Ryan Field. The Wildcats will be looking to secure their first conference win of the season as well their second straight in the series against the Wolverines.
Northwestern is attempting to rebound from narrow losses in its last two games. The 'Cats were tied or held the lead with less than three minutes to play in hostile environments at Army and No. 22 Illinois before falling by seven and three points, respectively.
Quarterback Dan Persa returned to the field Saturday at Illinois, more than 10 months after tearing his Achilles tendon vs. Iowa last November. The All-Big Ten performer sparkled for NU, completing 10-of-14 passes with a career-best four TD tosses and ending his day with eight straight completions. He finished with the ninth-best single-game passer rating in FBS this season at 239.51. Persa exited the game early in the fourth quarter with soreness in his foot.
Jeremy Ebert, NU's active leading receiver with 1,570 career receiving yards, has vaulted up Northwestern's career receiving TD's list with five touchdowns in his last two games, including a career-best three at Illinois. Ebert enters this weekend in sole possession of third place with 15 career touchdown catches. He has totaled at least 98 yards receiving in a game six times since the start of last season, while eight of his 10 touchdowns the last two seasons have covered at least 20 yards.
Northwestern-Michigan Series Information
Series Record: Michigan leads, 52-15-2
Last Meeting: Nov. 15, 2008 Northwestern 21, Michigan 17 (Michigan Stadium)
Meeting for the first time since Northwestern's win in the Big House in 2008, the Wildcats and Wolverines are playing under the lights at Ryan Field for the third time in the last 13 years. The last time they did so was in 2005 in a matchup of two ranked teams as No. 25 Michigan upended No. 21 Northwestern by a score of 33-17. Northwestern's 2008 victory at Michigan Stadium was its first in Ann Arbor since 1995.
Saturday's contest marks Northwestern's first game of the year against a Legends Division opponent. The Wolverines faced an intra-division foe in their Big Ten opener last week, routing Minnesota, 58-0, in the fifth of five consecutive home games to open the season.
With junior quarterback Denard Robinson leading the way, Michigan boasts the Big Ten's best rushing attack and ranks seventh nationally with more than 293 ground yards per game. The Wolverines have scored at least 28 points in their first five games of 2011 while holding four of their opponents to 10 points or fewer.
Michigan (+7) and NU (+5) rank 1-2 in the Big Ten in turnover margin this year.
Ticket Information/Next Game
Saturday's game against Michigan at Ryan Field is sold out. At this point, purchasing season tickets is the only way to guarantee seats to the event. Call 1-888-GO-PURPLE to speak to a ticket sales representative.
Following Saturday, Northwestern next takes to the turf at Ryan Field on Saturday, Oct. 22, against Penn State on Homecoming weekend.
(For complete game notes, download the PDF linked at the top of the page.)
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