Nov. 15, 2000
#23/24 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (7-3, 5-2)
vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (5-5, 2-5)
Date/Time: Nov. 18, 2000/11 a.m. CST
Site: Ryan Field (Evanston, IL)
grass surface/capacity 47,130
Radio: WGN (720 AM)
Despite losing to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, the Wildcats still remain in a logjam at the top of the Big Ten conference standings. Four teams (Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State and NU) will determine how many ways the Big Ten Championship will be split this weekend. Ohio State hosts Michigan at 11 a.m., while Purdue hosts Indiana at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. For NU to go to the Rose Bowl, they would have to defeat Illinois and have Michigan and Indiana win. Purdue goes if they beat Indiana. Ohio State goes if Purdue loses and the Buckeyes can get past Michigan. Michigan runs for the roses if they defeat OSU and Purdue and NU lose. Got it? Northwestern and Illinois will again this year play for the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, the trophy awarded to the winner of the annual intrastate game. The Illini have won the last two meetings. The Wildcats slipped in both polls this week. NU is ranked 23rd by the Associated Press media poll and 24th by the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.
THE SERIES WITH ILLINOIS
Series Record: Illinois leads 49-39-5 (26-22-3 in Evanston)
Current Win Streak: IL- 2
Most Recent Meeting: Nov. 20. 1999 (IL, 29-7)
First Meeting: 1892 (Tie, 16-16)
Last NU Win in Evanston: Oct. 26, 1996 (27-24)
Last IL Win in Evanston: Oct. 3, 1998 (13-10)
NOTES THROUGH GAME 10
* Northwestern scored 17 points, its lowest total in a Big Ten game this season and its second-lowest total in 2000.
* Northwestern set a school record for total yards of offense in a season, with 4,754. The previous record of 4,590 was set in 1996. The 1996 team needed 866 plays to reach their yard mark, while this year's team has used just 808 plays so far.
* For the first time this season, the Northwestern defense did not force a turnover.
* Northwestern held Iowa to 353 total yards of offense, the fewest the Wildcats have given up in a Big Ten game this season.
* QB Zak Kustok had a touchdown pass, his 17th this season which ties Steve Schnur for the school's single-season record.
* Kustok moved into seventh on the Northwestern single-season list with 2,101 passing yards and ninth on the all-time list with 2,842 passing yards.
* Damien Anderson had 132 yards rushing and now has 1,735 for the year. He needs 51 to surpass Darnell Autry as NU's single-season rushing leader.
* Anderson saw his streak of games with a touchdown (9) come to an end. The nine-game streak is a school record. He still needs one touchdown to break Autry's record for TDs in a season.
* CB Harold Blackmon had two more pass breakups on Saturday, giving him 19 for the season which is a new school record. Blackmon breaks his own record of 17, which he set last year.
* Tim Long snapped a streak of 11 straight field goals with a miss on a 43-yarder in the second quarter. His streak is the second-longest in school history.
* Long's streak of 43 straight PATs remains intact. That is a school record.
* WR Jon Schweighardt caught the first TD pass of his career Saturday. Northwestern has now had nine different players catch a touchdown pass this season.
NORTHWESTERN BY THE NUMBERS
1 -- Northwestern's rank in the Big Ten in overall (36.3 points per game) and conference (39.4 ppg) scoring offense.
516.0 -- Yards per game Northwestern is getting in total offense in Big Ten games. That total leads the conference by 61 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.
276 -- Number of points NU has scored in seven Big Ten games this year.
199 -- Number of points NU scored in the Big Ten combined in 1998 and 1999.
363 -- Number of points scored overall by NU this year, a new school record.
2 -- Damien Anderson's rank in the national rushing statistics.
195.7 -- 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.
17 -- Zak Kustok's passing TDs this season, tying him with Steve Schnur's single-season record set in 1996.
2,101 -- Zak Kustok's passing yardage thus far in 2000 which places him seventh on NU's single-season list, nine yards behind Len Williams in sixth place with 2,110 yards.
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.
HEAD COACH RANDY WALKER
Randy Walker took over the reins of the Northwestern football program on January 20, 1999, and has guided the Wildcats to a 10-11 record during his tenure. Overall, he stands 69-46-5 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.
MAKING THE BIG PLAY
Northwestern did not score from outside the red zone against Iowa. 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, Zak 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). Kustok has tied Steve Schnur's single season record for touchdown passes with 17 and has the seventh most passing yards in a season (2,101) and ninth most all-time (2,842).
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 had two tackles for loss and a sack at Iowa. Missouri has 13 TFLs for the season (tied for the eighth-best season total in NU history) and 42 for his career, which ties him for second on Northwestern's all-time list in that category. He is also third on the all-time sack list with 16. 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.
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.
Tackles: Silva 3-7-10, Harris 5-6-11, Bentley 0-0-0.
Miscellaneous: Silva had a PBU, Bentley left the game with an injury.
Currently, they rank 1-2-3 on the team in tackles (Silva 58-50-108,
Harris 55-40-95, Bentley 48-30-78).
BREAKING UP ISN'T HARD TO DO...
Northwestern has 44 pass breakups through 10 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 19 PBUs in 2000 which surpassed his mark from last season. He now owns the top two spots on the list and now has 45 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).
After the Illinois game, NU will wait and see which bowl game they will play in at the end of 2000.