Nov. 2, 2009
NU Football Game Notes (vs. Iowa)
After facing the nation's 12th-ranked (BCS) team in Penn State last Saturday, the challenge is even greater this week as Northwestern travels to Iowa City to take on No. 4 and undefeated Iowa. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. ESPN is televising the game to a national audience.
The Wildcats gave Penn State all they wanted on Saturday, going toe-to-toe with the Nittany Lions for three quarters. Northwestern held a 13-10 advantage at halftime and then entered the fourth quarter tied 13-13 with Penn State. Then, in a span of three minutes and 40 seconds, the Nittany Lions scored three touchdowns to break the game open and post a 34-13 victory. Midway through the second quarter, Northwestern lost starting quarterback Mike Kafka to a left leg injury. When Kafka left the game with 8:15 remaining in the first half, he had totaled 170 yards of total offense (128 passing and 42 rushing) and a rushing TD.
Northwestern continues the most challenging stretch of its season. Counting last week's opponent, Penn State, the Wildcats are playing three top-25 teams in the last four weeks. The combined record of NU's final four foes is 25-9.
With nine more catches on Saturday, senior wideout Zeke Markshausen has moved into the top spot on the Big Ten's leaderboard for receptions. He now has 67 catches, which is the seventh-highest figure in a season at Northwestern. Markshausen is averaging 7.4 receptions per game while Purdue's Keith Smith is second with 6.7 per game. He has 17 more catches than Smart (49 to 32 in five games) in Big Ten games only.
Iowa, which is ranked eighth (AP), sixth (coaches) and seventh (Harris) nationally in the three major national polls, owns a No. 4 BCS ranking on the strength of its No. 2 computer average. The Hawkeyes extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 13 last Saturday with a 42-24 come-from-behind win over Indiana. The Hawkeyes, who trailed by as many as 14 points early in the game, entered the fourth quarter with a 24-14 deficit. Iowa then proceeded to score 28 consecutive points in the final frame to improve to 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten.
After facing the Big Ten's top-ranked defense in Penn State last weekend, the Wildcats brace for another top-rated defensive unit in Iowa. Nationally, the Hawkeyes rank third in pass efficiency defense, 19th in total defense (297.6 ypg), 13th in scoring defense (15.8 ppg) and 39th in rushing defense (117.4 ypg).
When walk-on cornerback Ricky Weina made his first career start (in place of the injured Sherrick McManis) on Saturday against Penn State, he became the 20th different player to start this season on the defensive side of the ball. He also became the ninth different player to start in NU's defensive secondary.
Saturday's visit to Kinnick Stadium marks the Wildcats' third trip to Iowa City since 2006. (Due to the rotation of opponents on the Wildcats' schedule, they are playing in Iowa City for a second straight year.) While most teams have struggled at Kinnick, the Wildcats have enjoyed some success recently. In fact, Northwestern is the only school that owns multiple victories (two) over Iowa at Kinnick in the Hawkeyes' last 51 games (Iowa is 43-8 dating to 2002.)
Radio -- Saturday's game will be broadcast on WGN 720 AM and wgnradio.com with the broadcast beginning at 10:30 a.m. Dave Eanet (play-by-play) and Ted Albrecht (analyst) call the action. WNUR (89.3), NU's student radio station, also will carry the game. The game can also be heard on Sirius (channel 123) and XM (channel 144) satellite radio.
Television -- ESPN is televising the game nationally. Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Bob Griese (analyst) will call the game. The game is also available on ESPN360.com.
Kickoff Announced For Nov. 14 Game at Illinois
Northwestern's Nov. 14 game at Illinois will begin at 11 a.m. CT. ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Classic will televise the game (to be announced Monday, Nov. 9).