Nov. 1, 2000
#23/21 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (6-2, 4-1)
vs. #12/12 Michigan (6-2, 4-1)
DATE/TIME: Nov. 4, 2000/2:30 p.m. CST
SITE: Ryan Field (Evanston, Ill.)
grass surface/capacity 47,130
RADIO: WGN (720 AM)
Yogi was right -- it ain't over 'til it's over.
Zak Kustok's 45-yard touchdown pass to Sam Simmons with no time left completed a 21-point comeback as Northwestern defeated Minnesota, 41-35, in the Metrodome last Saturday. Kustok's pass, which was deflected by Kunle Patrick into Simmons' waiting hands, ended a miraculous, heart-stopping rally by the 'Cats. NU scored two touchdowns in the final 1:24, the final 27 points of the game, and three TDs in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats scored three touchdowns on fourth down plays and were a perfect 5-for-5 on fourth downs during the game. Ironically, the most important was the one that did not result in a TD, when Kustok completed a 34-yard pass to Patrick on 4th and 20 to keep the game-tying scoring drive alive. Kustok finished the drive off one play later with a 12-yard TD scamper. For the day, Kustok rushed for two scores (12, 3 yards) and threw for two more (13, 45 yards), both to Simmons. He rushed for 90 yards and passed for 209. For his efforts, Kustok was named Big Ten co-offensive player of the week.
All-America candidate Damien Anderson broke the 200-yard rushing barrier for the third time this season, an NU record. He carried 34 times for 230 yards and two scores. Anderson now has 16 TDs this season, one short of Darnell Autry's single-season record and one more than Northwestern had as a team in 1999.
The Wildcats rejoined the USA Today/ESPN (coaches) poll this week at No. 23. They moved up to No. 21 in the Associated Press (media) poll.
In the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), which determines the teams who will play for the national championship, Michigan is 12th while Northwestern is 20th.
THE MICHIGAN SERIES
RECORD: Michigan leads, 47-13-2 (17-7 in Evanston)
CURRENT WIN STREAK: Michigan, 3
MOST RECENT MEETING: Nov. 6, 1999 (Michigan, 37-3)
FIRST MEETING: 1892 (Northwestern, 10-8)
LAST NU WIN IN EVANSTON: Oct. 5, 1996 (17-16)
LAST U-M WIN IN EVANSTON: Oct. 17, 1998 (12-6)
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK'S WIN OVER MINNESOTA
* Northwestern has 205 points in five Big Ten games this year, more than they scored combined in the conference the last two seasons (199 -- 106 points in 1999, 93 points in 1998).
* Northwestern has surpassed the 40-point mark three times this season, the first time that has happened since 1943.
* Northwestern was 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions Saturday, and scored four of its six touchdowns on fourth down.
* Northwestern has set a team record for rushing yards in a season with 2,054 yards. That eclipses the old mark of 1,958 in 1946.
* NU has tied the team record for most rushing TDs in a season with 23, the previous best was set in 1996.
* NU is four points away from setting a team record for points in a season. The current record is 336 points scored in 1996. NU has scored 333 points so far this season.
* NU is four touchdowns away from breaking the team record for most touchdowns in a season. So far in 2000, the Wildcats have scored 39 TDs. The mark of 42 TDs was set in 1996.
* WR Sam Simmons had a season-high five catches for 91 yards, and had the first two-touchdown game of his career.
* RB Damien Anderson ran for 230 yards, his third 200-yard game of the season which is a school record. It was the fifth-best rushing day in Northwestern history.
* Anderson now has exactly 3,000 yards for his career, which is second on the all-time rushing chart at NU. His 1,335 yards this season is third on the single-season list.
* Anderson also ran for his 15th and 16th touchdowns Saturday, which is second on the school's single-season list. Last year, Northwestern scored 15 TDs as a team for the entire season.
* Anderson also scored in his eighth straight game, adding to his school record.
* WR Teddy Johnson also had 157 yards in kickoff yardage, the best day by an NU player since Hudhaifa Ismaeli had 166 in the 1996 Rose Bowl against USC.
* WR Roger Jordan had a career-best four receptions, for 28 yards.
* DB Harold Blackmon had his fifth interception of the season, tying him with seven other players for fifth on the school's single-season list. Blackmon has 10 INT's for his career, tying him with Eric Hutchinson for fourth on the school's all-time list.
* Tim Long has broken the mark of most extra points in a season with 37 PATs. The previous mark was 34 PATs in 1996.
NORTHWESTERN BY THE NUMBERS
1 -- Northwestern's rank in the Big Ten in overall (36.5 points per game) and conference (41.0 ppg) scoring offense.
516.2 -- Northwestern's average yards per game in total offense in Big Ten games. That total leads the conference by 44.4 yards per game.
79 -- Number of points Northwestern has garnered from turnovers this season (10 touchdowns, 3 field goals). In all, the Wildcats have forced 20 turnovers this season and boast a +7 turnover margin.
205 -- Number of points NU has scored in five Big Ten games this year.
199 -- Number of points NU scored in the Big Ten combined in 1998 and 1999.
333 -- Number of points scored overall by NU this year, just three shy of the school record (336) set in 1996.
3 -- Damien Anderson's rank in the national rushing statistics.
8 -- Number of games in a row that Damien Anderson has scored a touchdown, a school record.
26.3 -- Average length of Damien Anderson's 15 touchdowns in regulation this year. He also had a 12-yard overtime TD at Wisconsin.
37.5 -- Average length of Teddy Johnson's six touchdown catches in 2000. His single-season record of five consecutive games with a touchdown catch was snapped at Minnesota.
15 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Northwestern last year.
16 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Damien Anderson already this year.
4 -- Touchdowns scored on fourth down in the win against Minnesota. For the season, Northwestern is 11-of-13 on fourth-down conversions with six TDs.
44 -- Number of consecutive PATs made by Tim Long dating back to last season, including 37 this season which is a school record. His last missed PAT came last year at Purdue.
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 9-10 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 68-45-5 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 face their fifth opponent ranked in the Associated Press poll this week. They have gone 2-2 so far in the previous outings. Overall this year, 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).
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 eight games have done nothing to dissuade the argument. To wit:
vs. 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.
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.
TACKLES: Silva 10-1-11, Harris 7-3-10, Bentley 1-1-2.
MISCELLANEOUS: Silva had a PBU, Harris 1 sack and game-saving tackle, Bentley out in first half with ankle injury.
Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 46-38-84, Harris 47-33-80, Bentley 46-28-74 ).
THE SHOW-ME DEFENSIVE END
Defensive end Dwayne Missouri did not have a TFL at Minneota. Missouri still has 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 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.
SIMMONS 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. After not playing against Purdue with a stress fracture in his back, Simmons again was back with a vengeance at Minnesota. Simmons caught two touchdowns against the Gophers, one from 13-yards out on a fourth-down play, and the other a 45-yarder as time expired to win the game.
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO...
Northwestern has 37 pass breakups through eight 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 15 PBUs in 2000 which is second on the single-season record list. He now owns the top two spots on the list. Blackmon now has 41 PBUs 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 five interceptions in 2000 to give him 10 for his career -- good for fourth 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 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 travel to Iowa City on Saturday, November 11 to take on the Hawkeyes. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m. Central. Televison broadcast has not yet been determined.