Blue White Illustrated

Northwestern Pregame

Penn State Sports Magazine

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At this time a year ago, Northwestern seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough. The Wild- cats had just gone 4-0 in their noncon- ference season and were set to play host to Ohio State in their Big Ten opener. The Buckeyes were ranked fourth in the country, the Wildcats 16th. This was big – so big that ESPN's "College Gameday" came to visit Evanston for the first time since 1995. The game lived up to its billing. Facing a Buckeyes team that had yet to lose under sec- ond-year coach Urban Meyer, the Wildcats were up by a touchdown at halDime and still led, 23-20, going into the fourth quarter. And then it all unraveled. The Buckeyes scored 20 points in the final quarter, escaping Ryan Field with a 40-30 victory. Northwestern hasn't been quite the same ever since. The Wildcats were throttled by Wisconsin the following week, 35-6, then lost a succession of Big Ten heartbreakers, including overtime games against Iowa and Michigan and a 27-24 defeat at Nebraska in which the Cornhuskers com- pleted a Hail Mary pass on the game's final play. The off-season arrived early, as North- P R E G A M E R E P O R T N O R T H W E S T E R N @ P E N N S T A T E N O O N , S E P T . 2 7 B T N NORTHWESTERN FACTS COACH Pat Fitzgerald (North- western, '97) COACH'S RECORD 56-48 in nine seasons as head coach at his alma mater; career record: same 2014 RECORD 1-2, 0-0 Big Ten RECORD VS. PSU The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series, 13- 3. MOST RECENT MEETING Matt McGloin led the Nittany Lions to 22 unanswered points as they stormed back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to top the visiting Wildcats, 39-28, on Oct. 6, 2012. Zach Zwinak finished with 173 all-purpose yards. GOOD NEWS Northwestern is one of only three Football Bowl Subdivision teams to have blocked at least three kicks this season. The Wildcats swatted down an extra point vs. Northern Illinois and blocked a field goal and a punt against Western Illinois. BAD NEWS Fitzgerald is the second-longest- tenured Big Ten coach, trailing only Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, but he's yet to defeat Penn State. His record against the Nittany Lions stands at 0-5. DID YOU KNOW? Saturday's game is not the first meeting between Fitzgerald and new Penn State head coach James Franklin. In 2012, Franklin led his former institution, Vander- bilt, into Evanston for a noncon- ference matchup against Northwestern. The Wildcats won, 23-13. NEW DIRECTION Wildcats looking to improve their fortunes with a victory at PSU M A T T   H E R B | M A T T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Patrick Mansell S E P T E M B E R 2 4 , 2 0 1 4 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 1 UNDER PRESSURE Siemian attempts a pass during the Wildcats' previous visit to Penn State in 2012.

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