College GameDay Analysts Have History with Northwestern
WNUR’s Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23) looks at the history between College GameDay’s three analysts and the Northwestern Wildcats from their coaching and playing days.
As College Gameday prepares to make its second-ever appearance in Evanston on Saturday, it is interesting to note that all three Gameday lead analysts have history against a Northwestern program that has only recently thrived on the national stage. Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, and Kirk Herbstreit all faced Northwestern during their college football careers and enjoyed terrific success against the Wildcats.
Corso, who frequently discusses his time as Florida State’s quarterback on the Gameday set, spent most of his coaching career in Bloomington, Indiana as the head coach of the Hoosiers. Corso’s Indiana teams were never great, but they performed extremely well against Northwestern throughout his 10-year stint as the head Hoosier. Northwestern managed to win its first three games against Corso-coached Indiana from 1973 through 1975, and the Wildcats’ 1975 victory was a 30-0 dismantling of the Hoosiers in Evanston. Indiana more than made up for the embarrassment of 1975 in later years, as Corso won his last seven games against Northwestern, from 1976 through 1982. Indiana won five of these games by 15 points or more, with twin 30-0 shutouts in 1979 and 1982 standing out among the routs. It is highly likely that Corso does not remember Northwestern as the hard-hitting, New Years Day bowl-contending team that it is now, so he may take some time to warm up to the Evanston crowd Saturday.
The 1991 Heisman winner’s sole performance against Northwestern was, as Wildcat fans might expect, sensational. Howard kept his name firmly in the Heisman race as he accounted for 104 receiving yards, a receiving touchdown, 81 return yards, and an 18-yard run during Michigan’s 59-14 obliteration of the Wildcats in the Big House during the 1991 season. Wildcat fans should not be alarmed if Howard snickers at a mention of the Northwestern defense; he is merely remembering the field day he had against the unit back in 1991.
Herbstreit’s Ohio State teams faced Norhtwestern in each of the quarterback’s four years as a Buckeye, and Ohio State blew the Wildcats out each time.
Ohio State won each of the games against the Wildcats by 24 points or more, and Herbstreit was the starter in the Buckeyes’ 31-7 drubbing of Northwestern in 1992. Herbsteit, like his Gameday colleagues, is used to the days when Northwestern was not a formidable football opponent, so fans should tread lightly if the former Buckeye seems not to give the Wildcats much of a chance to win Saturday’s game.
All three of the Gameday analysts might seem a bit shocked that they are broadcasting a national college football pregame show from the campus of a school once considered a national college football doormat. A Northwestern win on Saturday, however, in primetime on national TV against a top-5 opponent, would enable the Wildcats to gain respect nationwide, even from these analysts who used Northwestern as a punching bag during their college football careers.