Oct. 25, 2000
#23 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (5-2, 3-1)
at Minnesota (5-3, 3-2)
DATE/TIME: Oct. 28, 2000/11:00 a.m. CT
SITE: Metrodome (Minneapolis, Minn.)
artificial surface/capacity 64,172
RADIO: WGN (720 AM)
After a much-deserved off week, the Wildcats get back at it this week with a trip to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers. On Saturday, Minnesota was defeated by Indiana, 51-43, in Bloomington, Ind.
Despite a 41-28 loss to Purdue on October 14, Northwestern is just a half-game back of conference front-runners Purdue and Michigan. At 3-1, the Wildcats are one of four Big Ten teams with a single conference loss. The Minnesota game will mark the return home for two defensive starters for the 'Cats, co-captain Conrad Emmerich (Foley, Minn.) and Javiar Collins (St. Paul, Minn.). Wide receiver Louis Ayeni also hails from the Twin Cities area, as he calls Woodbury home.
A pair of records were broken in the October 14 game against Purdue. Damien Anderson scored in the first quarter, the seventh straight game he has found the end zone. Teddy Johnson, meanwhile, had a pair of touchdown catches, in the process recording a TD reception for the fifth straight game which is a single-season record. He will still need a TD catch at Minnesota to tie the overall record -- that mark of six games, held by Richard Buchanan, bridged the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
The Wildcats are ranked 23rd in this week's Associated Press (media) poll. They dropped out of the USA Today/ESPN (coaches) poll after the loss to Purdue.
Series Record: Minnesota leads, 46-26-5 (20-14-2 in Minneapolis)
Current Win Streak: Minnesota, 1
Most Recent Meeting: Oct. 2, 1999 (Minnesota, 33-14)
First Meeting: 1892 (Minnesota, 18-12)
Last NU Win in Minneapolis: Oct. 14, 1995 (27-17)
Last UM Win in Minneapolis: Oct. 13, 1990 (35-25)
LOOKING BACK TO THE LOSS AGAINST PURDUE
* Northwestern has 164 points in four 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.
* Northwestern threw for 369 yards on the day, a season high.
* RB Damien Anderson ran for his 14th touchdown Saturday. Last year, Northwestern scored 15 TDs as a team for the entire season.
* Anderson also scored in his seventh straight game, setting a school record.
* WR Teddy Johnson has caught at least one touchdown pass in each of the last five games, which is a single-season record at Northwestern.
* Johnson has six TD catches in 2000 after recording four combined in his first three seasons. His TD catches this year have averaged 37.5 yards in length.
* Johnson also had 126 yards in kickoff returns, the best day by a Northwestern player since Sam Simmons had 131 in the 1999 season opener against Miami (Ohio).
* WR Jon Schweighardt had a career-best seven catches for 115 yards, both season highs for a Northwestern player. The last time an NU player had 100 yards receiving was Teddy Johnson last year against Purdue.
* WR Louis Ayeni, who has missed the entire season to injury, saw his first action of 2000. His first catch was a 35 yards for a touchdown, and he later had a 15-yard reception.
* QB Matt Danielson established a career best with six completions for 109 yards. He also threw his first career touchdown pass.
* DB Sean Wieber had his first career interception.
* WR Ronnie Foster had his first career fumble recovery.
NORTHWESTERN BY THE NUMBERS
1 -- Northwestern's rank in the Big Ten in overall (35.9 points per game) and conference (41.0 ppg) scoring offense.
509.5 -- Yards per game Northwestern is getting in total offense in Big Ten games. That total leads the conference by 40.5 yards per game.
72 -- Number of points Northwestern has garnered from turnovers this season (9 touchdowns, 3 field goals). In all, the Wildcats have forced 19 turnovers this season and boast a +8 turnover margin.
164 -- Number of points Northwestern has scored in four Big Ten games this year.
106 -- Number of points Northwestern scored in eight Big Ten games in 1999.
93 -- Number of points Northwestern scored in eight Big Ten games in 1998.
2 -- Rank of Damien Anderson in the national rushing statistics this week.
7 -- Number of games in a row that Damien Anderson has scored a touchdown, a school record.
31.3 -- Average length of Damien Anderson's 12 touchdowns in regulation this year. He also had a 12-yard overtime TD at Wisconsin.
5 -- Number of games in a row that Teddy Johnson has caught a touchdown pass, setting a single-season record.
37.5 -- Average length of Teddy Johnson's six touchdown catches in 2000.
15 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Northwestern last year.
14 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Damien Anderson already this year.
39 -- Number of consecutive PATs made by Tim Long dating back to last season, including 32 this season which is a school record. His last missed PAT came last year at Purdue.
NORTHWESTERN HEAD COACH RANDY WALKER
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and has guided the Wildcats to an 8-10 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 67-45-5 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 SCHEDULE AGAIN IN 2000
Sports Illustrated ranked Northwestern's 2000 schedule the seventh toughest in the nation in the preseason. The Wildcats have already faced four teams ranked in the Associated Press poll, going 2-2, and have one more left against a team ranked in this week's AP poll. Minnesota and another future opponent, Illinois, dropped out of the rankings recently 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 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).
MAKING THE BIG PLAY
Northwestern scored two more touchdowns from outside the red zone against Purdue, as Teddy Johnson caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Zak Kustok and Louis Ayeni caught a 35-yard TD pass from Matt Danielson. In all, Northwestern has scored 17 touchdowns from outside the red zone this season after scoring just 15 overall in 1999, seven of which were from outside the 20. Damien Anderson alone has averaged 31.3 yards per touchdown this season on 13 regulation TDs, while Johnson has six TDs averaging 37.5 in length.
Northwestern believes that its linebacker trio of juniors Kevin Bentley, Napoleon Harris and Billy Silva is among the best in the nation, and their performances through six games have done nothing to dissuade the argument. To wit:
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.
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.
Tackles: Bentley 6-7-13, Silva 5-5-10, Harris 5-3-8.
Miscellaneous: Harris and Bentley each had a tackle for loss.
Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 36-37-73, Bentley 45-27-72, Harris 40-30-70).
THE SHOW-ME DEFENSIVE END
Though defensive end Dwayne Missouri had a pair of tackles for loss and a sack against Purdue, giving him 10 TFLs for the season and 39 for his career, which places him third on Northwestern's all-time list in that category. He is also third on the all-time sack list with 14. Last year, Missouri had 20 TFLs, the second-best mark in school history.
Senior wide receiver Teddy Johnson is having the best season of his career. Johnson has scored a touchdown in five consecutive games, setting the mark for consecutive games with a TD catch in a single-season, and leads the team with six touchdowns receptions this season. For his career, Johnson has caught 10 touchdowns which ties him for seventh on the all-time NU list with Scott Yelvington. With his next TD reception, Johnson will move into a tie for fifth on the all-time charts with Brian Musso and Steve Graig. If Johnson catches a TD vs. Minnesota, he will tie the mark of six consecutive games in a career with a TD catch by Richard Buchanen. Buchanen's mark bridged the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
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). Against Indiana, he caught a 23-yard TD pass. He did not play against Purdue due to injury, but is expected back by the Minnesota game.
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO...
Northwestern has 31 pass breakups through seven 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 10 PBUs in 2000 which is tied for sixth on the single-season record list. He now has 36 for his career, which is 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.
COULDN'T CATCH A BREAK IN 1999
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 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.
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.
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.
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 will host Michigan -- ranked 15th in this week's AP national poll -- on Saturday, November 4. Kickoff will be at 2:30 p.m. Central, and the game will be broadcast live nationally on ABC.