Oct. 4, 2000
#22 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
Week 6 * vs. Indiana
Ameritech Day/Scout Day
DATE/TIME: Oct. 7, 2000/11:00 a.m. CT
SITE: Ryan Field (Evanston, Ill.)
grass surface/capacity 47,130
TV: ESPN Plus (WCIU-TV in Chicago)
RADIO: WGN (720 AM)
After a 47-44, double-overtime win at Wisconsin on Sept. 23, Northwestern came back and defeated its second straight ranked opponent with a 37-17 win over Michigan State in East Lansing. The win marked the first time since 1995 the Wildcats had won back-to-back Big Ten road games. In fact, prior to this two-game stretch NU had lost eight straight conference road games.
The two-game stretch has witnessed the coming-of-age of the Northwestern offense. Damien Anderson has rushed for 393 yards, shattering the NU record for yards in consecutive games. As a whole, the Wildcats have had consecutive 500-yard games and racked up 1,050 yards in the Big Ten so far this season. Perhaps most importantly, Northwestern has committed just one turnover while the Wildcat defense has garnered five.
Northwestern has also been piling up the points in 2000. With 171 the Wildcats have surpassed their total for the entire 1999 season by 30 points. In addition, they tied the vaunted 1962 team for the most points scored through five games in a season.
The Wildcats are ranked 22nd in this week's Associated Press (media) poll and 24th in the USA Today/ESPN (coaches) poll. It marks the first time NU is ranked since Sept. 1, 1997.
Damien Anderson is the Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week
Anderson earned the honor after rushing for a career-high 219 yards on just 25 carries against Michigan State Saturday. He also scored a pair of touchdowns, from 41 and 32 yards out. Prior to the game, Michigan State was allowing just 104.7 yards per game rushing.
Series Record: NU leads 37-32-1 (23-16-1 in Evanston)
Current Win Streak: IU, 1
Most Recent Meeting: Oct. 9, 1999 (IU, 34-17)
First Meeting: 1899 (NU, 11-6)
Last NU Win in Evanston: Sept. 20, 1995 (20-7)
Last IU Win in Evanston: Oct. 23, 1993 (24-0)
A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 5
* Northwestern has now won two Big Ten road games in consecutive weekends for the first time since 1995 and just the fourth time ever. Prior to this two-game win streak, Northwestern had lost eight straight conference games on the road.
* Northwestern has scored 171 points this season, tying the 1962 team for most points through five games. It is also 30 more points than the Wildcats scored in all of 1999.
* Northwestern had 506 yards in the game, the Wildcats' second straight game over 500 yards. In fact, the Wildcats have racked up 1,050 yards in the last two games.
* As a team, Northwestern rushed for 346 yards. Prior to Saturday's game, Michigan State was allowing just 104.7 yards per game on the ground.
* RB Damien Anderson had a career-high 219 yards rushing. It was the first 200-yard game by a Wildcat player since Darnell Autry had 240 vs. Iowa in 1996. Anderson also had two more touchdowns, giving him nine for the season.
* Anderson has run for 393 yards in the last two games, breaking the record for rushing yards in consecutive games (352, Darnell Autry).
* Anderson now has 2,423 rushing yards in his career and needs 43 to move into third place on Northwestern's all-time list.
* Anderson's eight regulation TD scores this season have averaged 39.3 yards in length.
* RB Kevin Lawrence ran for a career-high 80 yards.
* WR Kunle Patrick had a career-high five catches. In five games this season, Northwestern has had five different receivers lead the team in catches.
* DE Dwayne Missouri had two tackles-for-loss Saturday, giving him 37 for his career and moving him into third place on the school's all-time list.
* LB Kevin Bentley had his first interception of the season. This season, the NU linebackers (Bentley, Napoleon Harris, Billy Silva) have accounted for six of the 13 turnovers Northwestern has forced this season.
* The Northwestern defense did not allow MSU to convert a third-down all day. The Spartans were 0-for-12 in third-down conversions.
* Tim Long was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday, giving him 18 for his career and moving him into fifth place on the school's all-time list.
NORTHWESTERN BY THE NUMBERS
1, 2, 3
The rank of TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson, Wisconsin's Michael Bennett and Michigan State's T.J. Duckett on last week's national rushing chart. Northwestern has faced all three in the last three weeks.
The respective ranks of Northwestern's Damien Anderson and Indiana's Antwaan Randle-El on this week's national rushing chart.
The number of points Northwestern has garnered from the last 11 turnovers they have created (7 touchdowns, 2 field goals). In all, the Wildcats have forced 13 turnovers this season and boast a +7 in turnover margin.
The number of points Northwestern has scored this year, matching the 1962 team for most points after five games.
The number of points Northwestern scored in the entire 1999 season.
The number of yards Northwestern has piled up in two Big Ten games this year.
The number of yards Damien Anderson has rushed for in the last two games, a school record (formerly 352 held by Darnell Autry).
The average length of Damien Anderson's eight touchdowns in regulation this year. He also had a 12-yard TD in overtime at Wisconsin.
The total number of tackles for loss by the Wildcat defense, an average of nearly nine per game. That includes 13 sacks.
The number of touchdown passes thrown this year by Zak Kustok -- one more than he and Nick Kreinbrink combined for all of last year.
The number of players who have caught touchdown passes this year.
THE HEAD COACH
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and has guided the Wildcats to a 7-9 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 66-44-5 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 SCHEDULING IN 2000
Sports Illustrated ranked Northwestern's 2000 schedule the seventh toughest in the nation in the preseason. The Wildcats have already faced three teams ranked in the Associated Press poll, going 2-1, and has three left against teams that have spent most of 2000 in the AP poll (Purdue and Illinois dropped out this week for the first time). Overall, Northwestern is facing eight teams that had winning records in 1999, seven of whom played in postseason bowl games. Only South Carolina (9) and Notre Dame (8) will face more 1999 bowl teams in 2000 than Northwestern (7).
Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern's two deep in 1999, an amazing 35 have come back to play 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
People have been surprised by the early-season success of Northwestern. However, those close to the program know that last year's travails helped develop this year's boon. Specifically, injuries plagued the Wildcat wide receivers corps the entire 1999 season. They became so depleted that many times a walk-on or third or fourth string player lined up for NU. 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. Derrick Thompson fractured his rib in the Minnesota contest, but continued to play the remainder of the season.
MAKING THE BIG PLAY
In the last two weeks, the Wildcats found the red zone just three times -- not including OT at Wisconsin -- yet scored 71 points. The seven touchdowns scored by the offense in those games went for an average of 35 yards. In all, Northwestern has scored 12 touchdowns from outside the red zone, and the last 10 regulation TDs have averaged a staggering 42.3 yards in length. Damien Anderson had TD runs of 32 and 41 at Michigan State -- and saw the average length of his TDs drop, from 40.2 to 39.3 yards.
D.A. IS ON THE CASE
Damien Anderson is off to another impressive start this year, with 758 yards in five games (151.6 ypg). His stock has really gone up in the last two weeks, though, after a 174-yard game at Wisconsin on Sept. 23 and a career-best 219-yard outing at Michigan State on Saturday. Anderson's total places him second in the Big Ten and fifth in the country. He is also third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in all-purpose yards (159.4 ypg).
Anderson has also been finding the end zone with regularity. He has nine touchdowns already in 2000, surpassing the seven he accumulated in 1998 and 1999 combined. His 10.8 ppg average is tops in the Big Ten and fifth nationally. Most amazingly, however, is that his eight regulation TD runs (not including his 12-yard OT score at Wisconsin) have come from an average distance of 39.3 yards. In the last four games, Anderson has TD runs of 56, 66, 39, 69, 32 and 41 yards. With 16 career touchdowns, Anderson is sixth on the all-time list, but with six more he will move into second place.
Against Duke, Anderson also had a 100-yard game (with 187) and he now has nine 100-yard games for his career. He has also run for 88 yards against Northern Illinois despite sitting out the second half, and 90 yards against a TCU defense that had allowed 150 yards combined in its previous six games.
A junior eligible, Anderson's career rushing mark of 2,423 yards already ranks him fourth on NU's all-time list. He needs 43 yards to pass Stanley Davenport and move into third place.
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 kicked off the campaign by being 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). 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). At TCU, he had three catches for 23 yards and four kickoff returns (78 yards).
Northwestern believes that its linebacker trio of juniors Kevin Bentley, Napoleon Harris and Billy Silva is among the best in the Big Ten, and their performances through five games have done nothing to dissuade the argument. A game-by-game breakdown for 2000:
Tackles: Harris 5-5-10, Silva 3-4-7, Bentley 3-3-6.
Miscellaneous: Combined to force a fumble (Silva made the hit to force the fumble deep in NU territory, Harris batted the ball away from NIU players, and Bentley recovered it), Silva had a sack and an interception.
Tackles: Bentley 7-3-10, Silva 6-3-9, Harris 5-4-9.
Miscellaneous: Bentley had two pass breakups and two sacks, Harris had an interception, two pass breakups and a sack, Silva had a sack.
Tackles: Silva 7-7-14, Harris 8-3-11, Bentley 7-3-10.
Miscellaneous: Harris had an interception and a pass breakup.
Tackles: Silva 9-8-17, Bentley 10-3-13, Harris 7-5-12.
Miscellaneous: Bentley had a fumble recovery for a 50-yard TD, Harris blocked a Wisconsin extra point, Silva had a pass breakup.
at Michigan State
Tackles: Harris 7-4-11, Silva 2-7-9, Bentley 4-4-8.
Miscellaneous: Bentley had a one-handed interception off a deflection, Harris had a pass breakup.
Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 27-29-56, Harris 32-21-53, Bentley 31-16-47).
THE SHOW-ME DEFENSIVE END
Defensive end Dwayne Missouri had another big day Saturday at Michigan State, with two sacks and a forced fumble. In two Big Ten games he has five tackles for loss (four sacks) and a pair of forced fumbles, one of which went for a touchdown. He now has eight TFLs this season and 37 for his career which ties him for third on Northwestern's all-time list in that category. He is also third on the all-time sack list with 13. Last year, Missouri had 20 TFLs, the second-best mark in school history.
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO...
Northwestern has 22 pass breakups through five games in 2000. Last year, 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 BETTER THAN ANYBODY
After assaulting the pass breakup portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999, senior Harold Blackmon has seven PBUs in 2000, giving him 33 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 in 2000 to give him eight for his career, 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.
AMERITECH DAY/SCOUT DAY
Northwestern has two major promotions going on today. It is Ameritech Day at Ryan Field, and fans are being given calling cards with a picture of Willie the Wildcat on the front. In addition, it is Scout Day here at Ryan Field -- All scouts, leaders and their families could purchase half-price tickets for the game. At halftime, Northwestern will honor the scout troop that brought the most members to today's game.
Northwestern hosts Purdue in its Homecoming game next Saturday, October 14. Kickoff between the Wildcats and the Boilermakers is set for 11 a.m. Central at Ryan Field. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN.