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    17th-Ranked Football Prepares For Purdue

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Harold Blackmon and the defensive backs will try to slow down Drew Brees and Purdue this weekend
    Harold Blackmon and the defensive backs will try to slow down Drew Brees and Purdue this weekend

    Oct. 12, 2000

    Week 7 * vs. #21 Purdue
    Homecoming Weekend/LaSalle Bank Day

    DATE/TIME: Oct. 14, 2000/11:00 a.m. CT
    SITE: Ryan Field (Evanston, Ill.)
    grass surface/capacity 47,130
    TV: ESPN
    RADIO: WGN (720 AM)

    The Wildcats generated a little excitement in Evanston leading up to Saturday's game against Indiana after wins over nationally-ranked Wisconsin and Michigan State. However, nobody could have expected such a triumphant return to Ryan Field.
    As a team, Northwestern scored 52 points, its best total in more than 40 years. In three Big Ten games, the Wildcats have scored 136 points -- 30 more than they scored in eight Big Ten games last year, and one fewer than they had scored in 10 conference games dating back to the 1998 season. In addition, the NU offense racked up its third straight game with more than 500 yards of total offense.
    Damien Anderson, meanwhile, thrust himself squarely into the Heisman Trophy race with a sparkling performance, as he ran for 292 yards -- the third-best single game total in school history -- and tied a school mark with four touchdowns including a career-long 73-yarder. He became the first NU player in history to have back-to-back 200-yard games.
    The defense has shone in the last two weeks, as well. After holding Michigan State's T.J. Duckett to just 71 yards rushing two weeks ago, the Wildcat `D' limited Indiana's Antwaan Randle El to 245 yards (80 rushing, 165 passing).
    The Wildcats are ranked 17th in this week's Associated Press (media) poll and 18th in the USA Today/ESPN (coaches) poll.

    Series Record: Purdue leads, 43-23-1 (24-15-1 in Evanston)
    Current Win Streak: Purdue, 3
    Most Recent Meeting: Sept. 26, 1999 (Purdue, 31-23)
    First Meeting: 1895 (NU, 24-6)
    Last NU Win in Evanston: Nov. 16, 1996 (27-24)
    Last PU Win in Evanston: Nov. 7, 1998 (56-21)

    A Look Back at Northwestern's Win over Indiana
    * Northwestern topped the 50-point barrier for the first time since a 55-24 win over Michigan in 1958.
    * Northwestern has scored 40 or more points in two games this season, just the second time that has happened since 1943.
    * Northwestern has 136 points in three Big Ten games. Last year, NU scored 106 points in eight Big Ten games, while in 1998 the Wildcats scored 93 points in eight Big Ten games.
    * RB Damien Anderson ran for a career-high 292 yards and tied a school record with four touchdowns. Anderson's 292-yard day was the third-best in school history.
    * Anderson moved into second place on the school's all-time rushing list with 2,715 yards.
    * Anderson became the first player in NU history to have back-to-back 200-yard days. He also set the school record for combined yards rushing in two games (511), three games (685), four games (775) and five games (962).
    * Anderson went over the 1,000-yard plateau for the second straight season. Northwestern has now had a 1,000-yard rusher five of the last six years, the only Big Ten school to hold that distinction (though Wisconsin will also hold it when Michael Bennett reaches 1,000).
    * Anderson has 13 TDs this year, nearly double what he compiled in his first two years combined (7) and third on the school's single-season list (Darnell had 17 in both 1995 and 1996).
    * Anderson's 73-yard TD run in the second quarter was a career-long.
    * Anderson has tied school records with six TDs in the last two games and eight TDs in the last three games.
    * Anderson has tied a school record with a TD in six consecutive games.
    * WR Teddy Johnson has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last four games, averaging 44.3 yards in length.
    * PK Tim Long was 7-for-7 in PATs Saturday, giving making him 28-for-28 this season on PATs. The previous record for consecutive PATs in a season was 22 by Ira Adler (1990).
    * CB Harold Blackmon had his fourth interception of the season, the best single-season total by a Wildcat since Chris Martin had five in 1995. Overall, Blackmon has nine for his career which tied for fifth all-time.


    3 -- Damien Anderson's rank on this week's national rushing chart (175.0 yards per game).
    1 -- Damien Anderson's rank among the nation's top 20 rushers in terms of yards per carry (7.45).
    65 -- Number of points Northwestern has garnered from the last 15 turnovers they have created (8 touchdowns, 3 field goals). In all, the Wildcats have forced 17 turnovers this season and boast a +9 in turnover margin.
    136 -- Number of points Northwestern has scored in three Big Ten games this year.
    106 -- Number of points Northwestern scored in eight Big Ten games in 1999.
    1,586 -- Number of yards Northwestern has piled up in three Big Ten games this year.
    511 -- Number of yards Damien Anderson has rushed for in the last two games, a school record (formerly 393 by Anderson).
    685 -- Number of yards Damien Anderson has rushed for in the last three games, a school record (formerly 504 by Darnell Autry).
    775 -- Number of yards Damien Anderson has rushed for in the last four games, a school record (formerly 664 by Darnell Autry).
    33.8 -- Average length of Damien Anderson's 12 touchdowns in regulation this year. He also had a 12-yard overtime TD at Wisconsin.
    44.2 -- Average length of Teddy Johnson's touchdown catches in 2000. He has one in each of the last four games.
    15 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Northwestern last year.
    13 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Damien Anderson already this year.
    35 -- Number of consecutive PATs made by Tim Long dating back to last season, including 28 this season which is a school record. His last missed PAT came last year at Purdue.


    Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and has guided the Wildcats to an 8-9 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 67-44-5 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.


    With its success through six games, Northwestern has been bestowed numerous midseason honors by national publications. CNN/ named running back Damien Anderson to its "Half-American" team, a midseason All-American team. Offensive lineman Jeff Roehl earned honorable mention "Half-American," while head coach Randy Walker was named Coach of the Half-Year.


    Northwestern scored three more touchdowns from outside the red zone Saturday against Indiana, as Damien Anderson had a 73-yard TD run and Zak Kustok had TD passes of 23 yards to Sam Simmons and 50 yards to Teddy Johnson. In all, Northwestern has scored 15 touchdowns from outside the red zone, and the last 17 regulation TDs have averaged a staggering 34.8 yards in length. Damien Anderson alone has averaged 33.8 yards per touchdown this season on 12 regulation TDs.


    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 two more left against teams that are in this week's AP poll. Another future opponent, Illinois, dropped out of the rankings last 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?


    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 86 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).


    To say that Damien Anderson is off to a fast start this year would be an understatement. In fact, with 1,050 yards in six games (175.0 ypg) he has thrust himself squarely into any conversation about the Heisman Trophy.
    Anderson has created the buzz with three consecutive standout performances to kick off the Big Ten portion of Northwestern's schedule. He began it with a 174-yard game at Wisconsin on September 23, where he also scored two times including a 69-yarder and a game-winning 12-yarder in overtime. He then established a career best with 219 yards and two more touchdowns at Michigan State on September 30. Upon returning to Ryan Field, he went wild Saturday against Indiana with 292 yards, the third-best day in school history. He also tied a school mark with four TDs, including a career-long 73-yarder. Anderson's back-to-back 200-yard performances were the first in Northwestern history.
    With his performance against Indiana, Anderson was able to break the Northwestern records for rushing yards in two consecutive games (511), three consecutive games (685), four consecutive games (775) and five consecutive games (962). At his current pace, Anderson would finish the regular season with 1,925 yards, which would break Darnell Autry's record of 1,785. With one season of eligibility still left, Anderson is already second on the school's all-time list with 2,715 yards.
    Anderson has also been finding the end zone with regularity. With 13 touchdowns already in 2000, he has not only surpassed the seven he accumulated in 1998 and 1999 combined, he has personally nearly matched the total number of TDs Northwestern scored in 1999 (15). His 13.0 ppg average is tops in the Big Ten. 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 33.8 yards. In the last five games, Anderson has TD runs of 56, 66, 39, 69, 32, 41 and 73 yards. With 20 career touchdowns, Anderson is tied with Bob Christian for third on the all-time list. With two more, Anderson will move into second place.
    While his most impressive outings have come in the Big Ten games, Anderson also started off the year in style. He established a then-career best of 187 yards against Duke in Week 2. Anderson began the season with 88 yards against Northern Illinois, despite sitting out the second half, and in Week 3 ran for 90 yards against a TCU defense that had allowed 150 yards combined in its previous six games.


    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), and against Indiana he caught a 23-yard TD pass.


    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 six games have done nothing to dissuade the argument. To wit: Northern Illinois
    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.

    at TCU
    Tackles: Silva 7-7-14, Harris 8-3-11, Bentley 7-3-10.
    Miscellaneous: Harris had an interception and a pass breakup.

    at Wisconsin
    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).

    vs. Indiana
    Tackles: Bentley 8-4-12, Harris 3-6-9, Silva 4-3-7.
    Miscellaneous: Harris and Silva each had a fumble recovery, Harris had a QB sack, Bentley and Harris had pass breakups.

    Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 31-32-63, Harris 35-27-62, Bentley 39-20-59).


    Though defensive end Dwayne Missouri did not record a TFL against Indiana, he was a presence in the Hoosier backfield with six QB hurries. This season, Missouri has eight TFLs which gives him 37 for his career and 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.


    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.


    After assaulting the pass breakup portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999, senior Harold Blackmon has nine PBUs in 2000, giving him 35 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 four interceptions in 2000 to give him nine for his career -- good for fifth on the school's all-time list -- earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from the media and coaches last year.


    People have been surprised by the first-half 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.


    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 22 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 (St. Charles), Brian Huffman (Schaumburg), Matt Ulrich (Streamwood) and Jon Schweighardt (Wheaton).


    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.


    Saturday will be LaSalle Bank Day at Ryan Field. Fans who attend the game will get checkbook covers in Northwestern colors bearing the Northwestern logo.


    Northwestern is off next weekend, before heading to Minneapolis and a meeting with the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, October 28. Kickoff between the Wildcats and the Gophers is set for 11 a.m. Central at the Metrodome.