Northwestern plays final nonconference game before opening Big Ten play against Penn State

Sept. 12, 2005

NU-Arizona State FB Game Notes
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- After playing -- and winning -- its first two games at home versus Mid-American Conference foes, Northwestern hits the road for the first time this year, heading to the Valley of the Sun to take on the 18th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MST (9 p.m. CDT) this Saturday, Sept. 17 at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Sun Devils opened the 2005 season with a 63-16 victory over Temple. Then, a scheduled road game at LSU became a home game due to the ongoing hurricane relief efforts taking place in Baton Rouge. The Sun Devils led most of the way against the fifth-ranked Tigers, but a late LSU scoring play capped a 28-point fourth quarter and handed Arizona State a 35-31 setback.

The matchup between the Wildcats and Sun Devils features two of the nation's top offenses. Arizona State ranks fourth nationally in total offense (559.5 ypg) while Northwestern is seventh (526.0 ypg). Both teams tout stellar quarterbacks: ASU's Sam Keller ranks eighth nationally in total offense (328.5 ypg) and NU's Brett Basanez (Arlington Heights, Ill./St. Viator) ranks 10th (320.5 ypg). Keller has completed 49-of-80 passes for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. ASU's passing game, which averages 360.0 ypg, ranks fourth nationally.

Two of Keller's favorite targets are preseason All-America candidate Derek Hagan (10 catches for 148 yds., 2 TD's) and Jamaal Lewis (5 catches for 128 yards, 3 TD's). Keegan Herring (85.0 ypg) leads the ASU rushing game, which averages 199.5 ypg. Northwestern's running game will get its toughest test to date when it faces ASU's defense. The Sun Devils are allowing just 126.0 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry.

The Wildcats opened the year with a 38-14 win over Ohio before notching Saturday's thrilling 38-37 victory against intrastate rival Northern Illinois. The win extended Northwestern's home winning streak to seven games, its longest Ryan Field victory string since the mid-1990s when it produced a school-record 12-game home unbeaten streak. Northwestern is also 2-0 for the first time since the 2001 season.

After Saturday's contest in Tempe, the Wildcats return to Ryan Field to play their first of two consecutive Big Ten home games. Northwestern opens Big Ten play against Penn State at 11 a.m. CT on Sept. 24.

The Broadcasts
Radio -- WGN (720 AM) will carry the game live on 720 AM and on the internet ( WGN's pregame show begins at 8:30 p.m. Dave Eanet (play-by-play) and Ted Albrecht (analyst) call the action. WNUR (89.3), NU's student radio station, also will carry the game live. The contest is also available on the XM Satellite Radio network (Big Ten channels are 196 to 199).
Television -- Saturday's Arizona State-Northwestern game is not being televised.

(For a complete set of game notes, refer to the PDF above.)