Nov. 20, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern plays its seventh and final home game of the 2013 season Saturday, welcoming Legends Division-leader and 13th-ranked Michigan State to Ryan Field for an 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN. The upset-minded 'Cats, who are coming off two overtime losses and a third on the final play of regulation over their last three games, will be trying to deal the Spartans (6-0) their first conference loss of the season.
Fans can catch the live television broadcast on ESPN with Bob Wischusen, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich on the call, or listen to WGN720 in Chicago, the flagship radio station of Northwestern Football.
The Last Meeting
November 17, 2012
East Lansing, Mich.
Northwestern fans will be saying goodbye to 14 Wildcats playing at Ryan Field for the last time on Saturday. The group includes nine fifth-year seniors (PK Jeff Budzien, S Davion Fleming, LS Pat Hickey, WR Mike Jensen, LB Damien Proby, DL Tyler Scott, RB Mike Trumpy, LB Timmy Vernon and P Brandon Williams) and five completing their NU careers in four years (CB C.J. Bryant, QB Kain Colter, CB Mike Eshun, DL Will Hampton and WR Rashad Lawrence). Since arriving in 2009, the five-year class has contributed to 35 wins and four straight years of postseason appearances, including last year's New Year's Day win in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
Northwestern has been victorious in eight of its last nine Senior Day games at Ryan Field dating to the 2004 season. NU's lone Senior Day loss in that stretch came in 2011 at the hands of the then-10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans by a score of 31-17.
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.
Michigan State owns a 4-3 edge in the Northwestern-MSU series dating to 2005 and has won four of the last five, but the Wildcats came away as road victors when these two teams met a year ago in East Lansing. In that game, NU secured four takeaways and received a game-winning field goal from Jeff Budzien with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
NU's victory last year continued a trend in which the road team has won seven of the last eight games in this series.
Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz coached the outside linebackers and punters at Purdue in 1981 when MSU head coach Mark Dantonio was a Boilermakers' graduate assistant.
Hankwitz also coached on the same staff at Kansas as current MSU running backs coach Dave Warner. Hankwitz oversaw the Jayhawks' defense in 1995-96 while Warner was the QB coach.
The 'Cats have two representatives from the state of Michigan on their two-deep: junior WR Tony Jones (Flint, Mich./Grand Blanc) and junior OL Paul Jorgensen (DeWitt, Mich./DeWitt).
Northwestern Game Notes
A win today vs. Michigan State would keep alive Northwestern's hope of extending its streak of bowl-eligible seasons under Pat Fitzgerald to seven in a row. The Wildcats have played in five straight bowl games since 2008, including three on New Year's Day, and were bowl-eligible at 6-6 in 2007 but did not reach postseason play due to a record-number of bowl-eligible Big Ten squads. Northwestern concludes its regular season next Saturday (2:30 p.m.), when it travels to rival Illinois and tries to retain the Land of Lincoln Trophy.
Northwestern's defense produced another stellar effort against Michigan a week ago, keeping the Wolverines--who are averaging 34.3 points per outing this season--out of the end zone for all 60 minutes of regulation. Safety Traveon Henry registered a career-best and team-leading 13 tackles in the game, while senior LB Damien Proby added 11 to raise his season average to 9.0 stops per game, second-best among all Big Ten defenders. The Wildcats defense also recorded 10.0 tackles for loss for the second time in four games after having gone more than three years without achieving that feat in a single game.
On Monday, PK Jeff Budzien was named one of three national "Stars of the Week" by the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, who recently tabbed Budzien a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award to be announced at year's end. Budzien accounted for 13 of Northwestern's 19 points against Michigan despite battling rain and swirling winds at Ryan Field, connecting on field goals from 40, 36, 29 and 22 yards out. Budzien's big game leaves him just one point shy of matching the Northwestern record for career points scored, currently held by former kicker Brian Gowins (1995-98) with 262.
Michigan State Notes
Now in his seventh season in East Lansing, head coach Mark Dantonio has his Spartans eyeing a berth in the Big Ten Championship game for a second time in three seasons. MSU is 6-0 in conference play while Minnesota and Nebraska each sit at 4-2 with two games remaining. The Golden Gophers remain in contention for a trip to Indianapolis thanks to a head-to-head win over Nebraska and a date next week with the Spartans, but a win today for MSU would assure Dantonio's squad an invitation to the Dec. 7 title game.
Michigan State enters this week ranked No. 1 in the country in both total defense (228.4) and rushing defense (57.3) and stands No. 4 nationally and first in the Big Ten with a paltry 13.2 points allowed per game. However, the Spartans were dinged for 28 points at Nebraska a week ago and permitted Huskers tailback Ameer Abdullah to gain 123 rushing yards with 5.6 yards per attempt.
In addition to strong defensive play, one of the key reasons for Michigan State's success this season has been controlling time of possession. The Spartans lead the nation in time of possession for the year (34:56 per game), while in conference games the margin improves by a full minute (35:57 per game); at Nebraska last week, the Spartans held the ball for a remarkable 38:37. Under Mark Dantonio, Michigan State is 44-8 (.846) when leading in time of possession, including a 31-5 record (.861) since 2010.
Download the PDFs linked at the top of the page for complete Northwestern and Michigan State game notes.
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