Nov. 12, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Fresh off its second bye week of the season, Northwestern returns to Ryan Field for the first time in almost a month when it hosts Legends Division foe Michigan at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Evanston. It is the first of back-to-back home contests against Michigan and Michigan State before the 'Cats travel to rival Illinois to close the regular season.
Extremely limited tickets remain for Saturday's game. Contact the Northwestern Athletics ticket office at 888-GO-PURPLE or visit NUPurplePricing.com to secure your tickets today. Fans not able to make it to Ryan Field can catch the live television broadcast on the Big Ten Network or listen to WGN720 in Chicago, the flagship radio station of Northwestern Football.
Join Northwestern in Supporting the Wounded Warrior Project
Online auctions are underway and bidding has begun on custom-made Under Armour jerseys that Northwestern will wear this Saturday against Michigan in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. As of Monday, Nov. 11, fans may now participate in a special live online auction to secure one of these limited edition jerseys worn in-game by the Wildcats, with 100 percent of the auction proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. The online auction will continue through 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Nov. 20, following Saturday's game against the Wolverines.
Gameday Promotions (Call 888-GO-PURPLE for more information on any of the following promotions):
Wildcat Alley Fan Fest Presented by Cricket Wireless: Wildcat Alley is the FREE pregame fan fest area located only 100 yards northeast of Ryan Field. Wildcat Alley opens three hours before kickoff at each home game. Wildcat Alley is fun for guests of all ages and features interactive games, face painting, giveaways, Willie the Wildcat, cheerleaders, a performance by the Northwestern marching band and much more. For more information on Wildcat Alley or the new Wildcat Alley Tailgate Garden, CLICK HERE
Fans are reminded that parking in the lots on the east and west sides of Ryan Field is restricted only to season ticket holders who are in possession of a season-long parking pass. If you do not have a parking pass, please head directly to the FREE lots on campus to park. Please be advised that due to ongoing construction on Northwestern's lakefront campus -- specifically at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Aquatic Center -- parking will be limited this fall. All free lots on campus are available on a first-come, first-earned basis, and tailgating IS permitted in these lots. Free shuttles run between campus and Ryan Field before, during and after games.
Additionally, Ryan Field is conveniently located less than three blocks away from both the CTA Purple Line (Central Street station) and the Metra (Central Street/Evanston Station). Visit transitchicago.com or metrarail.com for gameday transit schedules.
Northwestern is looking for its first win over Michigan since the 2008 season when it scored a 21-14 victory at the Big House. The teams did not meet in 2009 or 2010 and were on the verge of splitting their meetings over the last two seasons before the Wolverines rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to win in overtime, 38-31.
Prior to the 2008 victory, Northwestern's previous three wins over Michigan had come in NU's Big Ten championship seasons (1995, 1996, 2000). The last of those meetings was one of the most memorable games in recent history for NU, with the 'Cats pulling out a wild 54-51 win at Ryan Field thanks to a late Anthony Thomas fumble.
Wildcats defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz is a 1970 graduate of Michigan, where he was a tight end for the Wolverines from 1967-69 and a starter on the 1969 Big Ten championship Rose Bowl squad. Hankwitz then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bo Schembechler.
Northwestern Game Notes
Pat Fitzgerald's squad took advantage of a bye week to overcome a rash of injuries that beset the 'Cats in recent weeks, with Fitzgerald naming as many as 13 key contributors who would have been sidelined had NU been in action last Saturday. The list featured Northwestern's top five running backs, including promising redshirt freshman Stephen Buckley. Buckley rushed for a career-high 99 yards at Iowa but sustained a serious left knee injury on a 17-yard pass reception in the first quarter at Nebraska on Nov. 2.
In addition to the loss of Buckley, Fitzgerald announced Monday that Northwestern would continue to be without senior RB Venric Mark through the remainder of the season due to a fractured ankle suffered Oct. 6 at Wisconsin. Mark, a 2012 All-American as a punt returner who rushed for 1,366 yards a year ago, has played only sparingly this season because of injury, seeing brief time at Cal, against Ohio State and in the first quarter at Wisconsin. The true senior intends to seek a medical hardship waiver and return for a fifth year in 2014.
With four more interceptions against Nebraska, the Northwestern defense has run its season total to 18 INTs (2.0 pg), tied with Florida State and Houston for No. 1 in the nation and two shy of tying the NU school record set in 1948 and 2005. LB Chi Chi Ariguzo and S Ibraheim Campbell are tied for the team lead with four picks apiece this season. The unit has at least one interception in 12 of NU's last 13 outings, collecting a total of 28 picks in those 13 games. The Michigan offense enters Saturday's game tied for 95th nationally with 12 interceptions thrown this season.
Although not immune to the injury bug that has bitten Northwestern this season, the Wildcats front-7 has become an anchor of success for NU during the Big Ten season. Currently, Northwestern ranks third in the Big Ten with 6.3 tackles for loss per game, led by senior Tyler Scott's 9.0 TFLs and 5.0 sacks. A model of consistency and hard work throughout his career, Scott now has 15.0 in his career, good for sixth on Northwestern's all-time list. He also is tied for ninth in the Big Ten with 9.0 total TFL's this season.
The unit also has benefited from the infusion to the lineup of sophomore DE Deonte Gibson and freshman DE Ifeadi Odenigbo, a pair of Ohio natives and talented speed-rushers who have become familiar presences in the opposing backfield. Gibson -- who made his first career start at Nebraska in the absence of the injured Dean Lowry -- and Odenigbo have combined for 11.0 TFLs and 6.0 sacks off the edge. Odenigbo's four sacks are the most by an NU freshman since another Ohioan, Vince Browne, had four in the 2008 campaign.
Not to be outdone on the interior, D-line coach Marty Long watched at Nebraska as both Chance Carter and sophomore Max Chapman notched their first career sacks.
Both Northwestern and Michigan enter today's game looking to bounce back from narrow, hard-fought losses to Bo Pelini's Nebraska squad. The Wildcats fell victim to a successful Hail Mary pass by Nebraska back on Nov. 2 -- the third straight game between Northwestern and Nebraska that has been decided by three points or less -- while the Wolverines saw their 19-game home winning streak halted with a 17-13 defeat to Big Red last week.
Michigan wideout Jeremy Gallon has sparked the Wolverines offense throughout the year, entering today with a streak of four straight games with five or more catches and at least one reception in 35 consecutive outings. Earlier this year, Gallon set school and Big Ten records for receiving yards in a single game with 369 (on 14 catches) in a 63-47 win over Indiana, marking the second-highest total ever by an FBS receiver.
U-M ranks 13th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 107.7 yards per game on the ground. The Wolverines have allowed only two 100-yard rushers through nine games (Michigan State's Jeremy Langford and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah). The Maize and Blue are fifth in the Big Ten and 22nd in the country in total defense, surrendering 350.4 yards per game.
Download the PDFs linked at the top of the page for complete Northwestern and Michigan game notes.
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