NU History:
Friday Night Lights

While posting an update to the Program Cover Gallery, I noticed that the cover for the 1944 DePauw game appeared to have a typo: the cover showed the game date as September 22, 1944, but all records for the game show it as having been played on September 23.  September 23 makes the most sense, because it is a Saturday. 

When I did research for my 2005 book, I never looked into this game, despite its place as one of the most lopsided wins in NU history (the 'Cats took apart DePauw, 62-0).  Looking now at the Associated Press coverage of the game, however, settles the question:

[Appeared in newspapers Saturday, September 23, 1944] EVANSTON, Sept. 22--(AP)-- Northwestern University opened its gridiron season with a devastating 62 to 0 victory over DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind., before 15,000 spectators in flood-lighted Dyche Stadium tonight.  The Wildcats scored nine touchdowns, six conversions, and a safety against the visitors whose offensive and defensive [sic] was pitifully weak.

Northwestern unveiled a potential star in 18-year-old Johnny Yungwirth, freshman left half from Fond du Lac, Wis., who pitched two touchdown passes of 30 and 18 yards and plunged for a touchdown.

The Wildcats dominated the play so completely that they gained 393 yards on the ground, while holding DePauw to minus 26.  The Hoosiers never threatened and managed to get to their own 39 yard line only twice.  Northwestern made 18 first downs to none for the visitors.

The Wildcats scored within the first five minutes when Yungwirth heaved a 30-yard pass to end Duane Sickels in the end zone.  Fullback Bob Funderburg place kicked for the extra point.

The game was not only played on Friday, September 22, it was a night game, which NU had not noted in its records.  As recently as 1988, however, the game was indeed remembered as a night game, as noted in a column in the Tribune, written when NU played its first night game at Dyche in 44 years.  However, even in 1988 NU's records showed the DePauw game as having been played on Saturday.

An ad in the Thursday, September 21, 1944 issue of the DePauw
student newspaper The DePauw spelled out the day that DePauw and NU would play.

Tiger Coach Gaumey Neal and his players looked on from the sideline
as the 'Cats throttled DePauw    [DePauw Image]

Just as the stadium had in 1943, Dyche hosted the College Football All-Star game at the start of the 1944 season.  And, just as it had in 1943, NU took advantage of the temporary lights that were erected for the All-Star game by playing its first home game of the season at night.  Click here for a list of all of the Wildcat night games at Dyche Stadium.

The game against DePauw was just the fourth game NU ever played on a Friday, the first since 1894, and the first Friday game at night.  It was the final Friday game ever at Dyche Stadium.  Since then, the 'Cats have played several (regular season) road games on Friday, the most recent at Ford Field in 2007 against Eastern Michigan.  However, for one game in its history, NU played under Friday Night Lights at Dyche.