Nov. 13, 2006
NU Football Game Notes (vs. Illinois)
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Northwestern closes out the 2006 season at noon this Saturday, Nov. 18 with a historic meeting versus instate rival Illinois at Ryan Field. The contest marks the 100th all-time meeting between the two schools. ESPN360 is broadcasting the game to a subscriber-based internet audience.
Northwestern is also honoring 13 members of its senior class who are playing their final game as a Northwestern Wildcat. The 13 seniors are: Campbell Black, Erryn Cobb, Marquice Cole, Cory Dious, Demetrius Eaton, Bryan Heinz, Shaun Herbert, Joel Howells, Terrell Jordan, Ryan Keenan, Slade Larscheid, Nick Roach and Joe Tripodi.
Both Northwestern and Illinois are coming off home losses--the Wildcats dropped a 54-10 decision to top-ranked Ohio State while the Fighting Illini fell 42-31 to Purdue. With both teams standing 1-6 in league play, the winner of Saturday's game will avoid a last-place finish in this year's Big Ten standings.
Besides playing for the higher conference finish, Northwestern and Illinois are battling for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy. The traditional trophy series dates to 1945, and since then, Illinois holds a slim 31-26-2 advantage.
Although the Fighting Illini enter this weekend's with the same number of wins that they posted a year ago (two), the statistics show they are an improved team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last year, Illinois surrendered 469.3 yards and 39.5 points per game. This year, the Illini are allowing 305.2 yards and 26.7 points per contest.
Senior linebacker J Leman has led the defensive charge, averaging a Big Ten-best 11.7 tackles per game. He recorded a career-best 19 tackles (3.5 TFL's) in the recent 17-10 loss to Ohio State and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors. His 16.5 season TFL's ranks second in the Big Ten.
Offensively, true freshman quarterback Isiah "Juice" Williams has given the Illinois offense a spark, especially in the big-play department. Eight different Illinois players have receptions of 32 yards or better. Three different players -- Kyle Hudson, Jacob Willis and Rashard Mendenhall -- have season-long catches of 69, 69 and 76 yards, respectively. Williams is averaging 14.4 yards per completion.
Pierre Thomas (64.4 ypg, 5.8 ypc, 5 TD's), Mendenhall (47.9 ypg, 7.2 ypc, 4 TD's) and Williams (47.5 ypg, 3.7 ypc) lead the Illinois rushing attack.
Illinois place-kicker Jason Reda is a potent weapon, too. He has booted 15-of-18 field goal attempts and is perfect inside 40 yards (12-of-12).
Radio -- WGN will carry the game live on 720 AM. The broadcast also can be heard live via the internet at wgnradio.com. The pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. Dave Eanet (play-by-play) and Ted Albrecht (analyst) call the action. WNUR (89.3 FM) also will carry the contest live. The game is also available on the XM Satellite Radio network. (Channel 199).
Television (Internet) -- ESPN360 is broadcasting the game to a subscriber-based internet audience. Jeff Friedman (play-by-play) and David Kaplan (analyst) call the action.
100th Meeting Set For Illinois and Northwestern
Northwestern and Illinois close out the 2006 season this week with the 100th meeting between Illinois' two Big Ten Conference institutions -- Northwestern and Illinois. Since 1945, the two teams have played for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy. Illinois leads the overall series 51-43-5, although the Wildcats have won the last three games. The last time that a school won four or more successive games in the series was 1979-85 when the Fighting Illini won seven straight. Since the two teams began playing for the Sweet Sioux, Illinois holds a 31-26-2 series advantage.
Tickets Still Available
Plenty of good seats are still available for Saturday's game with Illinois. (The game is NOT being televised in the Chicagoland area.) Sideline seats are $50, end zone seats are $30, and for groups of 50 or more, seats are $25. You can call the Wildcat ticket office at 847-491-CATS or purchase tickets online.
(For a complete set of game notes, download the PDF above.)