Nov. 22, 2011
NU FB Game Notes vs. MSU No. 14 (BCS) Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) at Northwestern (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
11 a.m. CT Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011
Ryan Field (47,130) Evanston, Ill.
Coach Fitzgerald Weekly News Conference Transcript
Television: Big Ten Network
Radio: WGN (720 AM), WNUR (89.3 FM), Sirius (Channel 85), XM (Channel 113)
Internet: WGNradio.com, WNUR.org
In-game Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Thankful to have secured bowl eligibility for a school-record fifth straight campaign, Northwestern tries to close the regular season on a winning note against No. 10/11/14 Michigan State Saturday in Evanston. Before the game, NU will honor the 25 'Cats who represent the winningest senior class in Northwestern history as they play their final game at Ryan Field.
This weekend's game marks the first time since 1989 the Wildcats have played a home contest on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. NU played its 2010 regular-season finale on the road at Wisconsin.
Pat Fitzgerald, who with the win over Minnesota improved to 13-7 as head coach in the month of November, owns a 5-0 record in Senior Day games at Ryan Field. That ledger includes three wins over Illinois and upsets of No. 17 Wisconsin (2009) and No. 13 Iowa (2010). Interestingly, Fitzgerald also is unbeaten (6-0) in season openers in his career.
Saying goodbye to Ryan Field Saturday are the following senior Wildcats: OL Colin Armstrong, S David Arnold, WR Brendan Barber, OL Doug Bartels, CB Mike Bolden, WR Charles Brown, DE Vince Browne, OL Ben Burkett, RB Alex Daniel, DL Jack DiNardo, SB Drake Dunsmore, WR Jeremy Ebert, LB Ben Johnson, CB Jordan Mabin, DL Niko Mafuli, CB Jeravin Matthews, LB Bryce McNaul, SB Brett Nagel, OL Al Netter, QB Dan Persa, S Brian Peters, RB Jacob Schmidt, DE Kevin Watt, CB Tim Weak and CB Ricky Weina.
The group became the winningest five-year class in NU football history on Nov. 12 when it defeated Rice and enters its Senior Day date with Michigan State with 36 victories to its credit. (The previous record of 34 wins had been held by both the 2009 and 2010 senior classes.) Among their list of achievements are:
Five straight years of bowl eligibility--the first NU class to achieve that--with trips to the Alamo Bowl (2008), Outback Bowl (2009) and TicketCity Bowl (2010) on their resumé. All three of those games were decided by seven points or less, with two (vs. Missouri, vs. Auburn) decided in overtime.
19 Big Ten wins -- including three at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium, one each at Nebraska and Michigan, and two victories over in-state rival Illinois.
Five wins vs. nationally ranked teams: No. 20 Minnesota (2008), No. 8 Iowa and No. 17 Wisconsin, (2009), No. 13 Iowa (2010) and No. 9 Nebraska (2011).
Northwestern's November success continued with a 28-13 victory over Minnesota Saturday, improving NU's record in November since the start of 2008 to 10-4. The Wildcats have gone 5-2 both on the road and at Ryan Field in that span.
With 14 receiving yards against Michigan State, senior wide receiver Jeremy Ebert will become the first Northwestern pass-catcher to reach 1,000 yards for a season since D'Wayne Bates put up a school-record 1,245 in 1998. This season, Ebert has quickly climbed NU's all-time lists for single-season receiving yards (fourth, 986) and catches (ninth, 64) as well as joined the school's career standard-bearers; he ranks third in career yards (2,326) and seventh in career receptions (162).
A Win Over Michigan State Would ...
Give NU a four-game winning streak in Big Ten play.
Improve Pat Fitzgerald's career record in the month of November to 14-7.
Give Northwestern a five-game winning streak for the third time under Pat Fitzgerald (NU began the 2008 and 2010 seasons with a 5-0 mark before falling in its sixth game).
This Saturday's game vs. Michigan State is the third of three straight home games to wrap up the 2011 regular season. Following Saturday's game, the Wildcats will await word on a possible bowl game (bowl teams and destinations announced on Sunday, Dec. 4).
For tickets to Saturday's game, call 1-888-GO-PURPLE to speak to a ticket sales representative.
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!