Nov. 22, 2004
NU-Hawaii FB Game Notes
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern's 2004 football season has come down to one game and a clearcut mission: win this Saturday's contest and the Wildcats will be playing in a late-December bowl game. Here's the daunting part of the task, however -- Northwestern will have to travel 4,248 miles to the island of Oahu to take on the University of Hawaii and all-time NCAA passing leader Timmy Chang.
The Wildcats earned this position after notching another scintillating home victory on Saturday at Ryan Field. Northwestern defeated Illinois 28-21 in overtime -- the Wildcats' fourth OT game of the year -- in its Big Ten finale. The victory gave Northwestern its fifth consecutive home win and a perfect 4-0 Ryan Field slate vs. Big Ten competition.
Northwestern, which gained its first 2004 road victory earlier this month at Penn State, will need to be at its best against the Warriors, who are 5-5 overall, but 5-1 at home with five straight victories at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii, like Northwestern, is also trying to become bowl eligible, and needs to defeat the Wildcats and then Michigan State the following week to earn a trip to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The Warriors are led by Chang, who enters his final two regular-season games with 15,846 career passing yards, 105 touchdowns and 1,297 completions. This season, he has completed 267-of-451 passes for 3,032 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His 303.2 yards per game average ranks second best nationally. Chang, the preseason WAC Offensive Player of the Year, is coming off a 23-of-31, 376-yard and career-best 6-TD performance in Hawaii's 52-21 win over Idaho this past weekend. He has totaled 33 career games with 300 or more passing yards.
Chang's three favorite targets are Chad Owens (72 for 738 yards, 10.2 ypr, 7 TD's), Jason Rivers (59 for 711 yards, 12.1 ypr, 6 TD's) and Britton Komine (42 for 635 yards, 15.1 ypr, 4 TD's). As a team, the Warriors rank fourth nationally in passing offense (317.6 ypg). UH's leading rusher is Michael Brewster (59.9 ypg, 6.5 ypr, 6 TD's).
Defensively, the Warriors are led by All-WAC candidate Abraham Elimimian. A cornerback, Elimimian is one of several Hawaii players who has been slowed with injuries this year. Elimimian leads the UH defense with five interceptions. Defensive end Melila Purcell is second in total tackles (55), and leads the team in TFL's (14) and sacks (6).
(For a complete set of notes, see the PDF link above.)