Nov. 9, 2000
#12/18 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (7-2, 5-1)
at Iowa Hawkeyes (2-8, 2-4)
Date/Time: Nov. 11, 2000/11 a.m. CST
Site: Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City
grass surface/capacity 70,397
Television: ESPN (Channel 2 in Chicago)
Radio: WGN (720 AM)
They just wouldn't fall down. The more the students tried, they couldn't get the north end goalposts to collapse. The concrete reinforced goalposts are symbolic of the team that plays beneath them. The Wildcats seem to be reinforced by concrete this season. Saturday, in one of the most riveting college football games in recent memory, the Wildcats outlasted the Michigan Wolverines, 54-51, at Ryan Field.
Zak Kustok's 11-yard touchdown pass to Sam Simmons with 20 seconds left was the difference. It was the second straight game the duo connected for the winning touchdown. For the day, Kustok completed 27 of 40 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two scores and 55 yards. It was the first 300-yard passing effort for the Wildcats since Steve Schnur in 1996. For his efforts, Kustok was named Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row. Simmons caught 12 balls for 124 yards and one score.
Damien Anderson recorded his fourth 200-plus yard game of the season with 268 yards on 31 attempts and two scores. It was the most rushing yards by a back against Michigan EVER --bettering the previous mark by 67 yards--and was the fourth-best in school history. In conference games this season, Anderson is averaging 206.9 yards per game.
NU gained a school record 654 yards of total offense. The 654 total yards and the 332 rushing yards were the most ever against a Michigan team.
The Wildcats moved up to #12 in the Associated Press media poll and #18 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Wildcats also moved up five spots in the BCS poll to #15.
THE IOWA SERIES
Series Record: Iowa leads 42-18-3 (21-5 in Iowa City)
Current Win Streak: NU, 1
Most Recent Meeting: Oct. 16, 1999 (NU, 23-21)
First Meeting: 1897 (Iowa 12-6)
Last NU Win in Iowa City: Nov. 9, 1996 (40-13)
Last UI Win in Iowa City: Oct. 10, 1998 (26-24)
NOTES THROUGH GAME 9 (Michigan)
* Northwestern has scored 346 points this season, breaking the school record of 336 set in 1996. That year, the Wildcats played 12 games.
* Northwestern's 54 points against Michigan marked the most allowed by the Wolverines since NU put up 55 in 1958 (that total is also Northwestern's modern record). Only three teams had reached the 50-point mark against Michigan since then.
* The 105 combined points and 64 combined first downs set Northwestern records.
* Northwestern has surpassed the 50-point mark twice this season, the first time that has happened since 1904.
* Northwestern set a school record with 654 yards of total offense, breaking the previous mark of 649 set against Northern Illinois in 1985.
* Northwestern's rushing (332) and total (654) yards were the most ever allowed by a Michigan team in a single game.
* RB Damien Anderson had 268 yards rushing, the most ever allowed by a Michigan team. The previous mark was 201, set by Darrell Thompson of Minnesota in 1987.
* Anderson's rushing day was the fourth-best in school history. This season, Anderson has had the third, fourth and sixth best rushing games in school history.
* This was the fourth 200-yard game of the season for Anderson, adding to his single-season and career records.
* Anderson also ran for his 17th and 18th touchdowns, tying Darnell Autry's record. Autry had 18 in both 1995 and 1996.
* Anderson also scored in his ninth straight game, adding to his school record.
* Zak Kustok threw for a career high 322 yards.
* Kustok completed 27 passes, a career-high for him and the eighth-best day in Northwestern history.
* Kustok has thrown 16 touchdown passes this year, one shy of the school record set by Steve Schnur is 1996.
* WR Sam Simmons had a career-high 12 catches for 124 yards. His 12 receptions tied him for the eighth-best day in Northwestern history.
* Tim Long was 4-for-4 on field goals, tying him with two other players for Northwestern's single-game record (Brian Gowins, Sam Valenzisi).
NORTHWESTERN BY THE NUMBERS
1 -- Northwestern's rank in the Big Ten in overall (38.4 points per game) and conference (43.2 ppg) scoring offense.
539.2 -- Yards per game Northwestern is getting in total offense in Big Ten games. That total leads the conference by 67.4 yards per game.
89 -- Number of points Northwestern has garnered from turnovers this season (11 touchdowns, 4 field goals). In all, the Wildcats have forced 22 turnovers this season and boast a +9 turnover margin.
259 -- Number of points NU has scored in six Big Ten games this year.
199 -- Number of points NU scored in the Big Ten combined in 1998 and 1999.
346 -- Number of points scored overall by NU this year, a new school record.
2 -- Damien Anderson's rank in the national rushing statistics.
9 -- Number of games in a row that Damien Anderson has scored a touchdown, a school record.
206.3 -- Damien Anderson's average rushing total in Big Ten games this season. Michigan State's Lorenzo White holds the highest average per game in Big Ten play at 183.7 yards per game.
26.2 -- Average length of Damien Anderson's 18 touchdowns this year.
16 -- Zak Kustok's passing TDs this season, one behind Steve Schnur's single-season record of 17 set in 1996.
1,853 -- Zak Kustok's passing yardage thus far in 2000 that places him ninth on NU's single-season list, nine yards behind eight place Tim Hughes in 1997.
37.5 -- Average length of Teddy Johnson's six touchdown catches in 2000.
15 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Northwestern last year.
18 -- Total number of touchdowns scored by Damien Anderson already this year, tying Darnell Autry's school record set in 1995 and 1996.
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 10-10 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 69-45-5 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.
Northwestern scored one more touchdown from outside the red zone against Michigan, as Damien Anderson ran for a 45-yard touchdown in the third quarter. In all, Northwestern has scored 19 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 26.2 yards per touchdown this season on 18 TDs, while Teddy Johnson has six TDs averaging 37.5 in length.
KUSTOK JUST WINS GAMES
He may not have the gaudy passing stats of a Drew Brees or the total offense numbers of an Antwaan Randle El, but great quarterbacks can also be measured by their leadership ability when the game is on the line. In three games this season, Kustok has led the Wildcats to come-from-behind victories. Against Wisconsin, he engineered a drive with less than a minute left in regulation and put the 'Cats in position for the game-tying field goal, then threw a touchdown to Teddy Johnson in the first overtime before Damien Anderson won it in the second overtime. Against Minnesota, Kustok led the 'Cats back from 21 points down with 17 minutes left and won the game with a 45-yard TD pass to Sam Simmons as time expired. Against Michigan, Kustok and Simmons hooked up again, this time from ll yards out with 20 seconds left, to defeat the Wolverines. For the season, Kustok ranks 19th in the country in total offense (247.4 ypg) and 21st in passing efficiency (134.7).
TOUGH SCHEDULE AGAIN IN 2000
Sports Illustrated ranked Northwestern's 2000 schedule the seventh toughest in the nation in the preseason. The Wildcats have faced five opponents ranked in the Associated Press poll during that week's game going 3-2. 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).
THE SHOW-ME DEFENSIVE END
Defensive end Dwayne Missouri recorded a sack, a forced fumble and two quarterback hits vs. Michigan. Missouri has 11 TFLs for the season and 40 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 15. 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 is tied for the team lead 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. He added to his late-game heroics vs. Michigan, catching the 11-yard game-winning touchdown for the second straight week. Simmongs is tied for ninth on the all-time receiving touchdown list with eight career TD catches.
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.
Tackles: Silva 9-5-14, Harris 3-3-6, Bentley 2-2-4.
Miscellaneous: Silva and Harris each had a tackle for loss.
Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 55-43-98, Harris 50-36-86, Bentley 48-30-78).
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO
Northwestern has 40 pass breakups through nine 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 17 PBUs in 2000 which has tied his mark from last season. He now owns the top two spots on the list. Blackmon now has 43 PBUs for his career, which is the school's all-time record. 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 returns home to face the Illinois Fighting Illini for the final regular season game of the 2000 season. Game time and broadcast outlet have not been determined.