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Northwestern press conference notes: 11/18

EVANSTON, Ill. -- The objective is plain: Northwestern must win its final two games to qualify for a bowl game. On Saturday, it faces 9-1 Michigan State. Coach Pat Fitzgerald spoke Monday at his weekly press conference:

-- Fitzgerald announced defensive tackle Sean McEvilly, who has battled a foot injury for much of the season, will have surgery and miss the rest of the season. Fitzgerald estimated McEvilly would be able to return after three months of rehabilitation.

-- There’s more news to report regarding two injuries: Sophomore safety Traveon Henry (“Mid-body”) and sophomore guard Geoff Mogus (“upper-body”) are questionable for Saturday’s game against MSU.

-- Saturday’s game against Michigan State is senior day for Northwestern. 14 Wildcats will play their last game at Ryan Field. According to Jon Davis, two redshirt juniors are included in that group.

-- The play everyone’s talking about in the wake of Saturday’s loss is the field goal Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons as the clock expired in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. Fitzgerald addressed the play Monday. “You’ve got to give the officials credit. They spotted that ball miraculously,” he said.

-- No team has lost more close, heartbreaking games than Northwestern this season. The Wildcats have dropped two games in overtime (Iowa & Michigan), one on a Hail Mary (Nebraska) and two others that were decided late in the fourth quarter (Ohio State & Minnesota). Fitzgerald’s suggestion on how Northwestern can work to improve in late-game situations: “Maybe we should make a t-shirt: catch the ball in the fourth quarter.”

-- Senior quarterback Kain Colter has a different view on Northwestern’s string of close losses. “It almost feels like we’re cursed,” he said. He stressed that the Wildcats are coming up just short in games – not getting blown out. “We’re really close,” he said.

-- There were a few changes of note on this week’s depth chart.