Football

    IU, Northwestern to Square Off on Homecoming

    Go Hoosiers! The Hoosiers look to stop the No. 24 Wilcats at noon on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    The Hoosiers look to stop the No. 24 Wilcats at noon on Saturday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Oct. 24, 2008

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Kicking off the second half of the Big Ten season, the Indiana football team returns home to face No. 24 Northwestern on Homecoming this Saturday at Memorial Stadium (49,225). Kickoff is set for noon EDT on Saturday, Oct. 25, and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network with Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Charles Davis (analyst) and Charissa Thompson (sideline) on the call.

    Indiana head coach Bill Lynch and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald will join college football coaches across the country in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The coaches will wear an armband with the Coach to Cure MD insignia to show their support for Coach to Cure MD, the American Football Coaches Association's (AFCA) newest charitable project.

    Football fans will be able to donate to muscular dystrophy research either online at CoachToCureMD.org or by texting the word "CURE" to 90999 to automatically donate $5 from their mobile phones.

    Hoosiers On Homecoming
    Indiana owns a 41-48-6 record on Homecoming, including wins in three of the last four seasons. Last year, the Hoosiers gave Penn State all it could handle before coming up short, 36-31, on Oct. 20. In 2006, IU knocked off Michigan State, 46-21, following a 36-13 victory over Illinois in 2005. Indiana upset No. 23 Minnesota, 30-21, back in 2004.

    The Hoosiers are 7-7 all-time against the Wildcats on Homecoming. Northwestern earned a 37-31 overtime victory over Indiana the last time the teams met on Homecoming in Bloomington (Oct. 11, 2003).

    The Northwestern Series
    Indiana owns an 18-16 edge in Bloomington, while Northwestern leads the all-time series 42-33-1. After losing 16 of 18 meetings from 1976-1993, the Wildcats have won the last four contests in the series, with all four games decided by seven points or less and two extended into overtime.

    Northwestern earned a 31-28 win last season (Nov. 10, Evanston), a 31-24 double-overtime victory in 2004 (Oct. 9 Evanston), a 37-31 overtime triumph in 2003 (Oct. 11 Bloomington) and a 41-37 win in 2002 (Nov. 2, Evanston). The Hoosiers last victory in the series came on Nov. 3, 2001 - a 56-21 win at Memorial Stadium.

     

     

    Scouting Northwestern
    Northwestern has matched the 1996 Wildcats with a 6-1 start to become bowl eligible. NU is ranked 24th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and sits just outside the Associated Press Poll with 62 votes. Northwestern defeated Purdue, 48-26, last weekend in Evanston on the heels of its lone defeat of the season to Michigan State.

    The Wildcats average 27.6 points each time out and rank third in the Big Ten with 389.3 yards of total offense per game, 230.1 coming through the air and 159.1 on the ground. Senior quarterback C.J. Bacher has thrown for 222.1 yards per game (fourth in Big Ten) and has completed 58.7 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Bacher is second in the Big Ten with 247.9 yards of total offense per game. Bacher's protection has only surrendered five sacks, which leads the Big Ten and is fourth in the country.

    Senior Tyrell Sutton leads the Wildcat ground attack averaging 99.9 yards per game, which ranks fifth in the league and 26th nationally, along with five scores. Northwestern possess a balanced group of senior receivers as four Wildcats own at least 27 receptions and 262 yards. Ross Lane leads the way with 359 yards and 32 receptions followed by Rasheed Ward (284 yards, 30 reception, two TDs), Sutton (262, 28, two) and Eric Peterman (324, 27, three). Each member of the quartet has 100 or more career receptions and 1,000 or more career yards.

    The Northwestern defense is second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally with 21 sacks. Opponents are averaging 17.86 points (fourth in league), 120.6 rushing yards (fourth in league), 216.9 passing yards and 337.4 total yards per game. The Wildcats have nine fumble recoveries and seven interceptions.

    Junior safety Brad Phillips leads NU with 59 tackles and two interceptions, while redshirt freshman cornerback Jordan Mabin has a pair of picks and two forced fumbles. Junior defensive end Corey Wootton sits atop the team with 4.5 sacks and six quarterback hurries to go along with eight tackles for loss and one fumble recovery. Sophomore linebacker Quentin Davie paces the Wildcats with 8.5 tackles for loss in addition to 3.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries.

    Pat Fitzgerald is in his third season at the helm of the Northwestern program. Fitzgerald, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this season, starred at linebacker with the Wildcats (1993-96) and is 16-15 as head coach. He is 1-0 against Indiana.

    Chappell In Charge
    Sophomore quarterback Ben Chappell received the first start of his career at Illinois in place of the injured Kellen Lewis. Chappell finished the game with 172 yards on 12-of-29. He spread the ball to six different receivers and found juniors Andrew Means (67 yards) and Ray Fisher (43 yards) four times apiece.

    No stranger to running the no-huddle offense, the Bloomington South High School graduate guided the unit during spring practice and has seen action in six of the team's seven games in 2008. Chappell has thrown for 500 yards this season, completing 40-of-83 passes and passing for one touchdown, a 77-yard strike to fifth-year senior running back Marcus Thigpen. He also has one rushing score.

    No Doubting Thomas
    Since returning from a lower leg injury against Minnesota, junior safety Austin Thomas has led the Hoosiers with 24 tackles (eight per game). Thomas finished with a season and game-high 11 tackles at Illinois, his first double-digit tackle game since posting 12 in last year's season finale against Purdue (Nov. 17).

    The Woodstock, Ga., native has six career ballgames with 10 or more tackles, and despite missing two games, he is sixth on the team with 31 tackles in addition to two tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Thomas, who led the team with 112 tackles last season, has topped the Hoosiers with 192 tackles (116 solo) the last three years, eight ahead of linebacker Will Patterson (116 solo).

    A New Look
    Indiana added a new wrinkle to the offense at Illinois, lining up in a split-back formation and flanking one back on each side of quarterback Ben Chappell. Ian Reeves was one of several backs to spend time in the formation. The redshirt freshman linebacker moved to fullback during Illinois week practice after impressing coaches at the position on the scout team prior to the Michigan State game. Reeves earned the first start of his career and his first career offensive playing time against the Fighting Illini.

    With an extra blocker, the Hoosiers ran for 141 yards at Illinois after struggling on the ground at Minnesota (49 yards) and vs. Iowa (95 yards). Fifth-year senior Marcus Thigpen led IU with 69 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Junior Bryan Payton added a season-high 68 yards, a 25-yard touchdown run and a 5.2 average.

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