#17/19 Northern Arizona (0-1) at #18 Western Illinois (1-0)
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 • 1 p.m. AZ/3 p.m. CT
Hanson Field, Macomb, Ill
TV: Watch ESPN
Radio: Flagstaff HITS 106.1 FM; Phoenix Money Radio 1510 AM & 99.3 FM; Prescott Area 97.9 FM Eagle Rocks; Window Rock/Ft. Defiance, Ariz. & Gallup, N.M. KHAC 880 AM
Northern Arizona continues its two-game road swing this Saturday, Sept. 10 at Western Illinois. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. AZ/3 p.m. CT at Hanson Field. The game will be streamed live on Watch ESPN and the ESPN app.
The Opening Drive
• Saturday's game pairs the Lumberjacks and Western Illinois against each other for only the second time in school history. The last time the two teams met was in 1967, where NAU came away with the 34-0 victory.
• NAU will play a Missouri Valley Football Conference team for the first time since 2014. The Lumberjacks have played both South Dakota and South Dakota State in the last five seasons.
• The Lumberjacks are 7-10 all-time versus teams from the MVFC. Head Coach Jerome Souers is 1-4 versus teams from the MVFC.
• NAU is ranked No. 17/19 in the FCS Coaches and STATS FCS National Polls. For the first time in school history, the Jacks were voted No. 1 in the Big Sky Preseason Polls by both the league coaches and media.
• NAU welcomes back the reigning FCS STATS National Freshman Player of the Year and Jerry Rice Award winner quarterback Case Cookus. The Thousand Oaks, Calif. native finished fifth in national player of the year voting; the only freshman on the final ballot.
• The offense returns All-American and Big Sky First Team honoree wide receiver Emmanuel Butler. The Mountain Pointe HS wide out set a new NAU single season receiving yards record in 2015 with 1,208 yards. His sophomore numbers have landed him on the offensive player of the year watch list, along with Cookus.
Scouting Western Illinois
• Western Illinois topped Eastern Illinois 38-21 in its season opener. The Leathernecks put up 347 yards of total offense, 238 coming from the rushing game. Steve McShane led the charge with 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns. WIU ran in four touchdowns, while quarterback Sean McGuire found Tony Harper for the lone two-yard passing touchdown. McGuire finished the game 13 of 28 with 109 passing yards.
• WIU was picked to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll. Linebacker Brett Taylor, wide receiver Lance Lenoir Jr., and offensive lineman Jacob Judd were all named to the Preseason All-MVFC Team.
• The Leathernecks return 17 starters, after advancing to the second round of the FCS Playoffs a year ago, making it to the second round.
• WIU is 233-117-7 all-time at Hanson Field. In 2015, the Leathernecks went 4-1. WIU has won its last 10 non-conference games at home dating back to 2013. The Leathernecks are 32-4 against non-conference teams since 1999.
To be at the Top, You Gotta Beat the Top
• After opening up the season on the road at an FBS opponent, Northern Arizona finds itself ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches' Poll and No. 19 in the STATS FCS National Poll this week.
• The Lumberjacks entered the season ranked No. 18, as they put up 425 yards at Arizona State on Sept. 3, falling to the Sun Devils, 44-13, despite trailing by just seven points at halftime. Sophomore quarterback Case Cookus was solid from the pocket, completing 23 of 33 passes for 369 passing yards, including an 87-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Elijah Marks. Marks (174) and Emmanuel Butler (118) both posted 100-yard receiving games, while junior Cole Sterns gave the defense its first interception of the season.
Is it a Coincidence?
• Is it a coincidence or not that three of the last five FCS non-conference games that NAU has played have been against MVFC opponents? NAU last played South Dakota in 2014. The Lumberjacks fell to the Coyotes, 28-21, despite the Lumberjacks taking the victory the year prior.