Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

30° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



2008 Schedule


Luckily, this game is being played on the football field and not the hardwood. While the Orange has an elite basketball program, Syracuse’s football team has struggled since the departure of star quarterback Donovan McNabb in 1999. The Wildcats will be looking to avoid a repeat of 2006, when they dropped their season opener to Division I-AA New Hampshire. In NU’s first matchup with a Big East opponent since a 22-21 win over Boston College (then a Big East member) in 1993, a big Ryan Field crowd is not a certainty, but a win should be.


The revenge game to end all revenge games. Last season, Northwestern fell to the Blue Devils, 20-14, as Duke snapped a 22-game losing streak at the expense of the Cats before a shocked audience at Ryan Field. It was the Blue Devils’ first win over a Division I-A opponent since 2004. The upset loss cast a pall on the team’s season before it ever got out of the gate, and the Cats’ senior leaders will not let their team forget it. Look for C.J. Bachér, Tyrell Sutton, and the NU offense to come out firing, rack up huge numbers and chase the Blue Devils back to Cameron Indoor Stadium.


The inaugural matchup between the Cats and the Salukis will be an early test for NU’s veteran defensive line. Hailing from the Gateway Conference, Southern Illinois has a dynamic ground game, running for an average of 206.9 yards per game in 2007 (to compare, NU averaged 119.8 yards per game). The Salukis knocked off Indiana in 2006 and could easily upend the Cats if NU takes the game lightly. Coach Pat Fitzgerald should be mindful of the ignominious New Hampshire loss, or his team might just repeat it.

– SEPT. 20: VS. OHIO

The first of two chances for the former Mr. Ohio to beat up on an Ohio team. Despite earning the state’s highest honor for high school footbal players in 2004, Tyrell Sutton was overlooked by the Buckeye State’s colleges before NU snapped him up. The Cats have beaten up on Ohio teams not named Ohio State, winning a game over an opponent from Ohio in two of the past three years. The matchup with the Bobcats is the last chance for the Cats to work out the kinks before the Big Ten season, so look for Sutton and Co. to rack up the yardage – and the points.


Fourth-quarter revenge: Part 1. NU led the Hawkeyes 17-14 after three quarters last season, but two late Iowa touchdowns sent the Cats to their first loss to the Hawkeyes since 2002. The much-maligned NU secondary will have to do a better job containing quarterback Jake Christensen, who threw for 299 yards and a touchdown last season. But the Cats will have the advantage at running back – Sutton wore down the Hawkeyes for 116 yards, while Iowa lost workhorse Albert Young to graduation. If Sutton gets his 20-25 carries, NU can build a lead big enough to avoid another last-minute collapse.


No one will be salivating for this game more than C.J. Bachér. The senior torched the Spartans for 520 yards, most in NU history, and added five touchdowns to lead the Cats to a 48-41 overtime victory. MSU’s Javon Ringer ran roughshod over the NU defense, racking up 185 yards on the ground and breaking an 80-yard touchdown run. If Pat Fitzgerald’s squad needs any extra motivation heading into this one, it should play the tape from the schools’ 2006 matchup, when Michigan State pulled off a 35-point comeback – the largest in NCAA Division I history – for a stunning 41-38 victory. The thought of walking off Ryan Field as losers after the game should more than fire up the Cats.


Fourth-quarter revenge: Part 2. The Boilermakers reeled off 21 unanswered points in the final period on their way to a 35-17 win. The NU defense folded late in that game, allowing 137 yards on the ground in the final period. This year, the defense will face one of its biggest tests of the season in the dynamic trio of quarterback Curtis Painter and running backs Jaycen Taylor and Kory Sheets. The three combined for 377 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in last season’s game, so Mike Hankwitz’s squad will need to step up for the Cats to have a happy Homecoming.


Last year’s contest was as sweet as it gets for the Cats. Bachér hit Ross Lane for the winning touchdown with 44 seconds left, giving NU a 31-28 victory on Senior Day. Hoosier quarterback Kellen Lewis should once again be calling the plays – except that he was suspended for Indiana’s spring season and faces an uncertain future with the team. Behind Sutton’s 213 total yards, the Cats outgained Indiana 456-298 in the comeback win and held the ball for 36:47. So whether or not Lewis is behind center, the NU offense should be able to outgun the Hoosiers.


No Big Ten game was wilder last season, and no Big Ten game should be easier for the Cats this season. Last year, it took a 21-point fourth-quarter comeback and a last stand by the defense to secure a 49-48 (2OT) victory against the conference’s worst team. Bachér picked Minnesota’s secondary apart, throwing for 470 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-tying four-yard strike to wideout Eric Peterman with just eight seconds remaining in regulation. The Gophers should be just as bad this season, and NU should be much improved, so all that should change from last season is the Cats’ margin of victory – and the heart rates of the NU faithful.


Since NU’s program-altering 33-27 upset of the then-No. 7 Buckeyes four years ago, Ohio State has won 48-7, 54-10, and 58-7. It’s safe to say the Cats will enter this game as underdogs. The Buckeyes return the nucleus from last year’s team, which made it all the way to the BCS National Championship Game, including quarterback Todd Boeckman and running back Chris “Boobie” Wells. Last year at the ‘Shoe, NU was outgained 396-120, rushed for a grand total of zero yards and was down 28-0 before most fans had even gotten comfortable. Here’s hoping the game looks a little more last 2004 and a little less like the new status quo. Or at the very least, that the game is competitive into the second half.


Fourth-quarter revenge: Part 3. The Wolverines cruised past the Cats in the game’s final minutes, avoiding the upset 28-16. Bachér turned in one of his worst games of the year, throwing three picks, including two in the crucial last period, and failing to get the ball in the end zone. Michigan has lost its quarterback, running back, and head coach since then; unfortunately, they still have that grating, overplayed fight song. The Cats’ biggest game of the year might come at the Big House, as they may need their first since over Michigan since 2000 to clinch bowl eligibility.


The Cats’ oldest rival has shot up the Big Ten ranks in the past year. The Illini are led by quarterback Juice Williams, who was delicious in leading his team to an upset of then-No. 1 Ohio State last season a week before dispatching NU 41-22. Despite the loss of running back Rashard Mendenhall, who burned the Cats for 131 yards, the Illini will still bring Williams – who totalled 357 yards in the last meeting. The loss kept the Cats out of a bowl game, a fact not lost on the players who sat at home during bowl season. For Bachér, Sutton and the rest of NU’s seniors, this will be their last game at Ryan Field. Look for an inspired effort from the Cats, and just maybe a storybook ending.

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
2008 Schedule