College Football
Preview
Western Illinois at Northwestern
When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, September 20, 2014
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern’s running game has been virtually non-existent this season and it may not see much improvement when the Wildcats play host to FCS member Western Illinois on Saturday. The Wildcats averaged 90 yards rushing - which ranks 112th in the country - in losses to California and Northern Illinois. The Leathernecks are stout against the run and not only held Valparaiso and Drake to a combined 163 yards rushing, but muzzled Wisconsin to 167 yards.

That’s not good news for the winless Wildcats, who have been searching for a featured running back since Venric Mark transferred out of the program during training camp. Justin Jackson has displayed the most promise with 92 yards rushing on 20 carries. Northwestern’s passing attack has shown more potential, but quarterback Trevor Siemian has been inconsistent.

TV: Noon ET, ESPNews. LINE: None

ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS (2-1): The Leathernecks are led by quarterback Trenton Norvell, who is completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 633 yards and five touchdowns. They will try to milk the clock with running back J.C. Baker, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Defensively, the Leathernecks allow 18.6 points per game led by linebacker Luke Venegoni and defensive tackle Eddy Holtschlag.

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (0-2): The Wildcats have plenty of issues offensively with quarterback Trevor Siemian completing just 58.8 percent of his passes with three interceptions, while the running game is averaging 2.5 yards per carry. Wide receivers Cameron Dickerson and Kyle Prater, however, have developed into primary targets. Linebacker Collin Ellis paces the team with 21 tackles, but Northwestern has forced just two turnovers.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Northwestern has won seven consecutive meetings with FCS opponents by a combined 259-73.

2. The Wildcats yielded 221 rushing yards to Northern Illinois and ranks tied for 74th nationally against the run at 167.5 yards per game.

3. Western Illinois’s seven sacks against Drake were the program’s most in a game since 2002.

PREDICTION: Northwestern 35, Western Illinois 21
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Western Illinois 2-1 W1 28.7 18.7 2-0 0-1 0-0 2-0 0-0
Northwestern 0-2 L2 19.5 27.0 0-2 0-0 0-2 0-0 0-0
Last Meeting
Western Illinois Northwestern
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Western Illinois N/A
Northwestern N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Western Illinois N/A
Northwestern N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Western Illinois N/A
Northwestern N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Western Illinois N/A
Northwestern N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Western Illinois T. Norvell 67.6 633 5 3
Northwestern T. Siemian 58.8 497 2 3
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Western Illinois J. Baker 59 327 5.5 1
Northwestern J. Jackson 20 92 4.6 1
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Western Illinois H. Scott 13 157 12.1 2
Northwestern C. Dickerson 6 111 18.5 1
Touchdowns Player TD
Western Illinois J. Baker 2
Northwestern C. Dickerson 1
Quickchart Matchup
Western Illinois Off vs  Northwestern Def
392.7 yards
407.5 yards
5 yards/rush
3.4 yards/rush
8.9 yards/attempt
7.7 yards/attempt
Northwestern Off vs  Western Illinois Def
374 yards
348 yards
2.5 yards/rush
3 yards/rush
6.5 yards/attempt
6.1 yards/attempt