Nov. 9, 1999
NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL (3-6, 1-5) vs. Michigan State (7-2, 4-2)
Date/Time: Nov. 13, 1999/12:00 noon CT
Site/Capacity: Ryan Field (47,130)
Radio: WGN (720 AM)
Saturday’s contest between Northwestern and Michigan State marks the last game at Ryan Field this century. To mark the occasion, NU alum and Tribune sportswriter Bill Jauss has chronicled the top 10 football games that the Wildcats have played in this millennium. His picks will be featured in this Saturday’s game program. As either a fan in the stands, a player on the team or a sportswriter in the press box, Jauss has seen approximately one-fourth of the 917 games that Northwestern has played in the 1900s. We think that makes him the ‘Cat expert. Agree or disagree with his picks, the story is an enjoyable ride down memory lane.
Northwestern and Michigan State are meeting for the 42nd time. They have split the last two meetings. In 1997, NU blocked a last-second field goal to preserve a 19-17 victory Last year in East Lansing, the Spartans ran away with a 29-5 win.
Series Record: 29-12, Michigan State leads
First Meeting: 1905, Northwestern won, 37-11
Last NU win at NU: 1997, 19-17
Last MSU win at NU: 1992, 27-26
HEAD COACH RANDY WALKER
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999 with an impressive coaching resume. The 45-year-old Walker, who had coached Miami 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.
Following the Michigan game, two players earned Championship Performance recognition from the NU coaching staff. They were Harold Blackmon and Austin King. Each player earned an N-Cat decal that will be placed on his helmet.
The offensive player of the game was Austin King, the defensive player of the game was Harold Blackmon and the special teams player of the game was Kyle Sanders. The Defensive Big Playmaker was Harold Blackmon, while the Offensive Big Playmaker was awarded to Austin King.
The Offensive Scout of the Week was Derek Martinez and the Defensive Scout of the Week was Jaison Cook. These two players also receive N-Cat helmet decals.
NOTES FOLLOWING THE MICHIGAN GAME
• RB Damien Anderson rushed for 74 yards to up his season total to 927. As a redshirt sophomore, he already has 1,464 yards for his career which places him 10th on NU’s all-time rushing list.
• Anderson needs 73 yards to become Northwestern’s fourth 1,000-yard single-season rusher in five years. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry accomplished the feat in 1997.
• PK Tim Long made good on a 37-yard field goal and has now connected on six straight field goals.
• QB Zak Kustok ran 13 times for 41 yards against Michigan. He now has 193 yards rushing this season, the most by a quarterback since Mike Greenfield ran for 425 in 1987.
• DB Harold Blackmon had five PBUs Saturday, giving him 14 for the season (first on single-season list) and 23 for his career (tied for first with Rodney Ray).
• DE Dwayne Missouri had his tackle-for-loss streak end at 13 games.
• LB Kevin Bentley had 15 tackles to give him 120 for the year. He needs five more to move into the Top 10 on NU’s single-season list.
MICHIGAN GAME RECAP
Michigan used a dominating second quarter to handle Northwestern, 37-3, last weekend at The Big House in Ann Arbor.
The Wildcats got off to a promising start, driving for 41 yards and three first downs in their first seven plays to open the game. The next two plays yielded negative yardage, however, and set the tone for the rest of the half.
The Wolverines, by contrast, used the big play to build up a 27-0 lead by the break. Tom Brady hit David Terrell for a 26-yard strike for the only first-quarter score, and then Brady hit Marcus Knight for a 45-yard score and Anthony Thomas thundered 60 yards for two of Michigan’s three TDs in the second stanza.
The second half began where the first half left off, as the Wolverines drove 63 yards in just five plays to make the score 34-0. After the teams traded punts, Northwestern put together its best drive of the day, going 72 yards in 11 plays. Tim Long kicked a 37-yard field goal — his sixth consecutive made FG — to put the Wildcats on the board. Michigan kicked a field goal late in the fourth quarter to make the final score 37-3.
Damien Anderson creeped closer to the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 74 yards on 21 carries. He also caught four passes, as did Derrick Thompson (for 41 yards).
TEN SAY GOODBYE
Saturday’s game versus Michigan State will be the last home contest for the following 10 Wildcats: wide receiver Aaron Burrell, tight end John Cerasani, defensive tackle Jeff Dyra, tight end Corbett Elsen, wide receiver Tyrone Gooch, guard Brian Hemmerle, wide receiver Phil Miller, free safety Kyle Sanders, tight end Jay Tant and defensive end Gladston Taylor.
Coach Walker and his seniors will be featured on the cover of this week’s game program. Seven of those seniors will start this weekend (Burrell, Elsen, Hemmerle, Miller, Sanders, Taylor and Tant), while Cerasani and Gooch will start at Illinois.
A WHOLE LOT RETURN
Did you know that of the 44 players on Northwestern’s two deep, only six are graduating seniors? An amazing 20 true starters will return in 2000. Jeff Dyra and Jay Tant are the only ones to depart.
CAN'T CATCH A BREAK
Injuries have plagued the Wildcat wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks the entire season. The corps have become so depleted that many times a walk-on is lining up for NU.
At wide receiver, Sam Simmons (fractured clavicle) and Jon Schweighardt (fractured elbow) were both lost in the Iowa game, Teddy Johnson had a stress fracture in his shin and missed the first two games, had a viral infection in the Wisconsin game and played only two quarters, then suffered a concussion in the second quarter at Michigan, Rob Johnson fractured his left wrist and Derrick Thompson fractured his rib in the Minnesota contest.
At tight end, John Cerasani has played with a chronic ankle sprain for six weeks, Corbett Elsen had a nerve root irritation and missed four games, and Jay Tant has played with a hamstring strain all season and suffered a concussion versus Indiana.
At fullback, Ian Miller suffered a concussion in the TCU game and missed the next three games. At Michigan, Miller again suffered a concussion, and he will miss the remainder of the season.
BLACKMON REWRITING PBU RECORD BOOK
Senior Harold Blackmon has assaulted the PBU portion of the Northwestern record book in 1999. He has 14 PBUs to his credit this year and, in the process, broke the single-season record of 13 set by Rodney Ray in 1994. Meanwhile, Blackmon’s 23 career PBUs ties Ray’s career mark of 23. This season, he is fourth in the Big Ten in PBUs. Blackmon has one year of eligibility remaining.
Teammate Shegun Cummings-John is also having a banner year in the PBU department. He has 13 this year and is fifth in the Big Ten. Cummings-John, who had just one PBU in 1998, has two years of eligibility remaining.
KING OF THE FRESHMEN
Six true freshmen have seen a lot of playing time this season for the Wildcats. Of those six, Austin King has garnered the most playing time and has started at center for NU since the Duke game.
In those seven starts, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year candidate has garnered four championship performances (*) from the Northwestern coaching staff:
Opponent Grade Pins Knockdowns
Duke* 84% 3 6
Purdue* 86% 7 13
Minnesota 65% 0 7
Indiana 71% 2 5
Iowa 70% 5 9
Wisconsin* 85% 5 12
Michigan* 85% 2 11
The other five freshmen are: running back Louis Ayeni, who has 24 rushes for 79 yards and 16 kickoff returns for 259 yards (16.2 ypr), wide receiver Jon Schweighardt (two starts before being sidelined with an elbow injury against Iowa), who tallied 11 receptions for 134 yards overall and returned eight punts for 20 yards, as well as linebackers Vince Cartaya, Pat Durr and Regis Eller, who have played mostly on special teams
DAMIEN ANDERSON -- 73 AWAY FROM 1,000
With two games left to play, Damien Anderson needs just 73 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. If he gets there, Anderson will become the fourth Wildcat running back in the last five years to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. Darnell Autry did it in 1995 and 1996, while Adrian Autry broke the barrier in 1997. In all, the redshirt sophomore would become the seventh Wildcat to gain entrance into the elite club.
After gaining 537 yards in 1998, Anderson has already amassed 927 yards in 1999. He is currently ranked fourth in the conference and 26th in the country with a 103.0 yards per game average. In addition, Anderson is ranked fifth in the conference and 44th nationally in all-purpose yards at 119.6 per game.
Four weeks ago versus Iowa, Anderson set career highs for rushing yards (162) and rushing attempts (42). He has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game four times this season. His career rushing mark of 1,464 yards already ranks 10th on NU’s all-time list, while his 927 yards in 1999 ranks 10th on the Wildcat all-time single season chart as well. Anderson, who has two years of eligibility remaining, needs 82 yards to move into ninth on Northwestern’s all-time rushing list, 124 to move into eighth and 135 to move into seventh.
BENTLEY & HARRIS - 1 & 2 IN THE BIG TEN
Sophomore linebacker Kevin Bentley has picked up where Barry Gardner left off last year as one of the nation’s top tacklers. In nine games, he has registered 120 total tackles (tops in the Big Ten), 75 of which are solo efforts (also first in the conference). In addition, he has intercepted a Drew Brees pass for a 40-yard touchdown to his credit, collected another INT versus Iowa which eventually led to a TD and forced a fumble from Ron Dayne which led to a field goal. Bentley has three PBUs, two sacks for 20 yards, seven TFLs and two fumble recoveries. Against Indiana, he had a career-high 25 stops, 21 of which were solo.
Also of note is fellow redshirt sophomore linebacker Napoleon Harris. “Napo” is second in the Big Ten Conference in tackles per game with 11.6 (Bentley leads that category at 13.3 tpg). Overall, Harris has 93 total tackles, fifth in the Big Ten. Both student-athletes have two years of eligibility remaining.
MISSOURI'S STREAK OVER
Senior Dwayne Missouri’s consecutive game streak of collecting at least one TFL came to an end at Michigan. Since the Ohio State game in 1998, Missouri had recorded a tackle for loss in 13-straight contests.
Through nine games this season, Missouri leads the ‘Cats in sacks (five for 39 yards) and tackles for loss (16 for 69 yards). By contrast, last year Thor Schmidt led NU in both categories with six sacks and 12 TFLs for the entire 12-game season.
Missouri, who has one year of eligibility remaining at his defensive end position, fifth in the Big Ten in TFLs.
TELEVISED GAMES IN 1999
Since 1995, 52 of NU's 57 contests have been televised. In 1998, all 12 of NU’s games were shown on television. Thus far this season, the TCU (ESPN Regional), Duke (Jefferson Pilot) Purdue (ESPN2), Minnesota (MSC),(ESPN Regional), Wisconsin (ESPN Regional) and Michigan (ESPN Regional) games have been selected for broadcast. The Michigan State game will not be televised, however the Illinois game may be selected for broadcast 10 to 12 days prior to the contest. Since NU football was first televised on October 27, 1951 — when the 'Cats entertained Wisconsin in Evanston — the Wildcats have been featured on 101 occasions.
OUT FOR THE SEASON
• Jeff Dyra, a senior defensive tackle, broke his left foot during the Indiana contest. The fifth-year senior was diagnosed with a slight stress fracture in the foot prior to the Duke contest, but was able to play effectively in the next three games.
• Ty Garner, a senior offensive lineman, suffered a torn ACL & MCL last year in practice. He took a medical noncounter and even though he has one year of eligibility remaining, his injuries preclude him from returning to football.
• Chris Jones, a sophomore linebacker, tore his ACL in the Miami game. He has already had surgery to repair the ligament damage.
• Ian Miller, a senior fullback, suffered his second concussion of the season in the Michigan game.
• Scott Musso, a fifth-year senior defensive back, suffered a career-ending injury when he tore his achilles last year. He took a medical noncounter.
• Jon Schweighardt, a freshman wide receiver, broke his left elbow in the Iowa game. Amazingly, Schweighardt played the entire second half against the Hawkeyes with the break, thinking he had only suffered a cut. He caught four second-half passes including a crucial 18-yarder on the game-winning drive.
• Sophomore WR Sam Simmons, who broke his clavicle in the Iowa game.
THE RANDY WALKER SHOW
Look for The Randy Walker Show Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Chicago. The show will be repeated at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov.12. Dave Eanet, the voice of Wildcat Football on WGN Radio, serves as the host.
The show will feature an “Ameritech Ask the Coach” segment. Fans can send in their questions to Coach Walker at nusports.com and if their question is read on the show, they’ll receive a Gift Pack, courtesy of Ameritech.
HARRY CARAY LUNCHEONS
Coach Walker, selected players and Wildcat fans meet at Harry Caray’s Restaurant on Friday for the final time this season. The festivities begin with a reception at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon starts at noon. Harry Caray’s is located at 33 West Kinzie in downtown Chicago. Members of the media are invited to cover the luncheon, however, if you wish to eat, please contact Jean Yale at 847-491-3694 to make a reservation. Tickets are $25 apiece.
The Wildcats take to the road to play Illinois in their final game of the 1999 season. Game time for the Nov. 20 contest has yet to be announced by the conference office.