NU’s 2010 schedule: Another rugged November

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Coming off a dramatic 38-35 Outback Bowl heartbreaker that attracted a record number of television viewers, Northwestern announced a 2010 schedule on Tuesday that includes another rugged November lineup.

The Cats–who beat Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin last November to reach their first Jan. 1 bowl since 1997–will play those three teams plus Penn State this November. NU’s nonconference opponents in Evanston will be Illinois State and Central Michigan. The Cats will travel to Vanderbilt and Rice.

Its overtime loss to Auburn in the Outback Bowl, widely considered one of the most entertaining games of this bowl season, attracted a 7.1 rating in Chicago, ESPN’s highest Chicago rating for a bowl game. The previous record was NU’s appearance in the 2000 Alamo Bowl, which attracted a 5.2 rating.

Nationally, the 2010 Outback Bowl had a 4.06 rating, a 32 percent increase over the 2009 Outback Bowl between Iowa and South Carolina, and the bowl’s highest rating in four years.

NU also announced that cornerback Sherrick McManis has joined quarterback Mike Kafka on the East squad for the 85th East-West Shrine Game (2 p.m., Jan. 23, ESPN2).

The 2010- NU football schedule:

September

4 — at Vanderbilt

11 — vs. Illinois State

18 — at Rice

25 — vs. Central Michigan

October

2 — at Minnesota

9 — vs. Purdue

16 — Open

23 — vs. Michigan State (HC)

30 — at Indiana

November

6 — at Penn State

13 — vs. Iowa

20 — vs. Illinois

27 — at Wisconsin

–Herb Gould

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