After earning a bowl berth in their final game of the regular season, the Wildcats (6-6, 5-4 Big Ten) will face No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4, 5-3 ACC) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28, the bowl announced Sunday afternoon.
The Panthers finished fourth in the ACC Coastal division, but had the same record as North Carolina and Miami. Pittsburgh also has a number of impressive wins on its resume including victories over No. 2 Clemson and Big Ten Champion Penn State.
Northwestern will be participating in its second straight bowl and 13th all-time. The Cats fell to Tennessee in last year’s Outback Bowl, 45-6.
After possibly the best statistical season by a receiver in school history, senior wideout Austin Carr won the Big Ten’s Receiver of the Year award, the conference announced Wednesday.
The former walk-on put up massive numbers in his final year at Northwestern, showing an impressive rapport with sophomore quarterback Clayton Thorson that formed the backbone of the team’s offense. Carr led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, finishing with a final line of 84 catches for 1196 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is also one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s top receiver.
From Sept. 10 against Illinois State to Oct. 22 against Indiana, Carr caught a touchdown in six straight games to set a program record. With the Wildcats’ bowl game still remaining, Carr currently is tied for NU’s single-season record in touchdowns and is second in school history in single-season receptions and yards.
Carr was joined on the media’s All-Big Ten first team by junior running back Justin Jackson. Jackson, who was also named to the coaches’ all-conference second team, led the Big Ten in rushing with 1300 yards and scored 12 touchdowns on the ground this season.
Thorson, sophomore guard Tommy Doles and junior superback Garrett Dickerson all received all-conference honorable-mention nods from the Cats’ offense as well. In total, ten NU players were named to All-Big Ten teams or were given honorable mentions.
Senior defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo was named to the First-Team All-Big Ten roster by the media, the conference announced.
Odenigbo led the conference with 10 sacks in 2016, pushing him to second in program history with 23.5 career sacks. His season was punctuated by a four-sack performance against Iowa in October, a Northwestern single-game record.
The D-Lineman also picked up a Second-Team nomination by the conference’s coaches.
Four other Wildcats also earned All-Big Ten honors: junior safety Godwin Igwebuike, junior linebacker Anthony Walker, junior kick returner Solomon Vault and sophomore cornerback Montre Hartage.
Igwebuike and Walker were named Second-Team by coaches and Third-Team by media. Igwebuike led Big Ten defensive backs with 101 tackles, while Walker averaged 9.4 tackles over his last eight games after sustaining an injury during training camp.
Vault was named to the Third-Team by the media. The junior, who already holds the program record for kick/punt return touchdowns, recorded his fifth career return TD against Michigan State in October.
Hartage earned an honorable mention as selected by media. The sophomore led NU with five interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Senior wide receiver Austin Carr left the Wildcats’ game against Minnesota with about five minutes left in the third quarter.
Carr was injured on the play and walked off the field gingerly after taking a hit from Minnesota defender Duke McGhee. It is unclear where Carr was injured, though McGhee was ejected from the game for targeting. The ejection was McGhee’s third this season for targeting.
Coming into the game, Carr led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was named one of ten semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, handed out to the nation’s top receiver, earlier this week.
Northwestern senior Austin Carr was named a semifinalist Monday for the 2016 Biletnikoff Award, given out annually to the best receiver in the nation.
Through ten games, Carr leads the Big Ten with 75 catches, 1,102 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. On Saturday against Purdue, Carr tied the Northwestern single-season record for touchdowns and needs 144 more receiving yards for the program record in yards.
The Biletnikoff Award is handed out every year by the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation to the nation’s top receiver, which can include anyone who catches passes such as running backs and tight ends. However, all ten semifinalists for the 2016 honor are wide receivers.
Starting next year, the Big Ten is rolling out an annual Friday night slate of conference games to be broadcast on ESPN and Fox as part of the conference’s television agreement.
The Wildcats will appear twice on Friday next fall, the conference revealed . They will take on Maryland on Oct. 13 in College Park and will host Michigan State on Oct. 27 in another Friday night tilt.
NU is the only Big Ten school that will appear twice on Friday night. Nebraska and Illinois will play Sept. 29 in the other conference game on the 2017 Friday slate. Rutgers, Wisconsin and Purdue will each play a non-conference opponent on a Friday night.
On its website, the Big Ten described the Friday night contests as being part of a “broad initiative to provide more primetime exposure on national platforms” to Big Ten programs.
Northwestern walked away from its exhibition contest Friday night against Illinois-Springfield with a predictable double-digit victory. Freshman guard Isiah Brown led the way with 18 points as the Wildcats topped the Prairie Stars 89-52.
With nonexistent stakes and a decided outcome from the opening tip, the game offered plenty of opportunities for coach Chris Collins to experiment with different lineups.
Dererk Pardon injury scares are not fun
The sophomore center looked good when in, scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting and adding four rebounds and three blocks. But he also left the game in the second half limping and holding his leg after heading into the tunnel earlier. According to Collins, Pardon had taken a knee to the thigh and was tightening but was ultimately fine.
He and freshman Barret Benson — who played surprisingly sparingly in the exhibition — constitute the team’s extremely thin center tandem and an injury to either would be costly.
Scottie Lindsey and Gavin Skelly are set to have big roles …
Last season, playing time for the then-sophomores was largely dictated by team need. When the offense needed energy or an athlete on the perimeter, it subbed accordingly. This year, it appears as though the Cats intend to lean on the third year duo in a broader sense.
Lindsey started the exhibition and finished with 13 points, going 2-of-3 from deep. Skelly saw plenty of action, playing both the 5 in NU’s small ball set and the 4 alongside another big. He ran the floor nicely and spaced the floor well, despite scoring only six points.
… but Brown might be the biggest X-Factor of them all
The freshman’s trademark scoring ability was on full display. Brown shot the ball well from deep and attacked the basket with confidence. Perhaps his best play of the day came in transition when Brown maneuvered through defenders and finished an acrobatic layup.
He’ll be leaned on as a shot-creator in the same vein as Tre Demps and appears to have a substantial role within the offense. If he can continue to score efficiently and in loads against higher-caliber opponents, Brown has the potential to be one of the offense’s most dynamic players.
Benson looked very raw in the limited action he saw. It’s expected — he is, of course, a freshman — but will need to develop better instincts given the role he is expected to assume.
Vic Law (11 points) struggled out of the gate but found a rhythm late. After missing a chain of three-pointers, he finished the game connecting on a pair, hitting a jumper in between.
Jordan Ash looks doomed to the bench yet again. Brown figures to run the offense when Bryant McIntosh sits.
As for McIntosh, the newly-named captain struggled from beyond the arc, going 0-of-3 and scoring 11. The exhibition offered little evidence that the point guard took the next step, but it’s far too early to worry.
Northwestern’s secondary is 3-for-3 predicting its own interceptions pre-game on social media this year. Last week, junior safety Kyle Queiro tweeted “Thanks for the INT,” and ended up with the top play on SportsCenter, making a spectacular one-handed pick.
Junior Godwin Igwebuike, who started the trend with a prediction and pick against Duke in September, seems to be trying to get the group to 4-for-4.
The Ohio native, who’s making a homecoming of sorts for the Wildcats’ game against No. 6 Ohio State, tweeted the following this afternoon:
Senior forward Nia Coffey was named to the preseason All-Big Ten team in both coaches and media panels, the conference announced Monday.
Coffey, who averaged a double-double for most of last season before finishing the season with 20.3 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per contest, was a first-team postseason selection each of the last two seasons by both coaches and media. She also received honorable mention AP All-American honors last year. This is the third consecutive year Coffey was named to the preseason all-conference team.
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was the Big Ten preseason Player of the Year for both coaches and the media, and Maryland was selected as the conference favorite.
The Cats will open their regular season Nov. 11 against Hampton. After starting last season 10-0 and reaching No. 12 in the AP poll, NU struggled mightily in Big Ten play and finished with an 18-17 record after losing in the first round of the WNIT. After the graduation of guard Maggie Lyon last year, the Cats are expected to be led this year by Coffey and senior guards Ashley Deary and Christen Inman.
First it was junior safety Godwin Igwebuike, tweeting “Thanks for the int,” before the Duke game in September and following through with an interception.
Then it was sophomore safety Jared McGee, taking to Instagram to call his shot before the Michigan State game and then picking off Spartan quarterback Tyler O’Connor in the fourth quarter.
This week against Indiana, junior Kyle Queiro is trying his luck. Last night, the safety tweeted “Thanks for the INT.” Queiro is wearing a cast on his left hand today, which might make keeping the streak alive more difficult.
UPDATE (2:20 p.m.): Kyle Queiro’s tweet seems to have worked. In the fourth quarter, the safety leapt up with one hand and picked off a pass from Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow. Check out the video below.