Prediction Friday – B1G Championship

The ‘Cats are taking their talents to Indy!

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo

 

ROGER

Game Summary:

I’ll get into the significance of this game momentarily, but first I’d like to point out a few things about our opponent:

  1. This year’s version of Ohio State is NOT invincible. In fact, they are probably the most beatable Buckeyes squad in nearly a decade because they have an incredibly low floor relative to other OSU teams.
  2. Ohio State has a negative point differential in road games and a +5 point differential in road and neutral site games. That’s almost unfathomable for a top 10 team with 1 loss.
  3. Ohio State was losing in the 2nd half this season to 4-8 Nebraska, 5-7 TCU, 5-7 Maryland and, obviously, 6-6 Purdue.
  4. If Ohio State churns out a performance on par with point 3 above, they will not be one of the better teams we have played this year.
  5. Ohio State has churned out performances on par with point 3 above more often than not.

Usually I ponder which NU team will show up. This week, the more significant question is which Ohio State team will show up. I’ll be the first to tell you I have no idea. We absolutely cannot beat the Ohio State team that played last week in Columbus. That said, there are a few things here that suggest last week’s OSU team won’t be in attendance and there are a few more than could go our way earlier in the day on Saturday.

  1. This game isn’t in Columbus (see above)
  2. OSU isn’t playing their rival in the most heated rivalry in all of sports
  3. No matter what they say, every singly player on the OSU roster and every single coach on the OSU sideline thinks they are going to win this game comfortably
  4. OSU’s motivation could be almost non-existent – More on that below.

Per #4, we all know OSU’s football players don’t come to play school. But, I would also argue they don’t come to play for conference championships. They come to play for national championships. Thankfully, through positive circumstance here, Buckeye nation is going to bed Friday night thinking they still have a shot at the national title and that could be erased by 8pm EST pending the outcome of the Texas – Oklahoma game. The committee has indicated that they evaluate the entire body of work for each team in each week’s rankings. OU is ahead of OSU this week. If OU wins comfortably in the Big XII Championship Game, then the Buckeyes have effectively zero chance of jumping them. Even with a convincing win, OSU would have done absolutely nothing during the week to justify jumping an OU team that also had a convincing win, also won their conference championship game AND beat a higher ranked team and avenged their only loss of the season.

Given that motivation appears to have been a problem all year for Ohio State, the outcome of the OU Texas game is a GIGANTIC factor in this game.

Now, for the ‘Cats.

  1. This game isn’t in Evanston – that’s actually a positive for this bunch
  2. NU is playing what ‘Cats fans would consider the Evil Empire
  3. The entire world is counting NU out
  4. Motivation? Are you serious? More on that below.

Motivation is obviously not going to be an issue for NU in this one. I’ve heard a lot of the NU faithful say this is the biggest game since [INSERT GAME IN ’95 or ’96]. I’m not sure that’s true. I would argue this is the biggest game ever for this program. As I pointed out last week, NU has NEVER played a Rose Bowl play-in game. In ’95 they had to rely on help from Michigan after their season ended. In 1948, they backdoored their way into the game thanks to some weird conference rules and more help from Michigan. This is a Rose Bowl play-in game for the ‘Cats. That’s a first. Thus, I would argue this is the most important game in the history of this program.

So, what’s going to happen in the game?

If NU can slog their way to halftime well within striking range, then I like our odds. Not only will OSU be completely screwed in their attempt to win by 100, but the ‘Cats will also realize that they aren’t playing the OSU squad that showed up against Michigan. That’s quite appealing.

I’m actually most concerned about explosive plays on the special teams front early in this one. Our kickoff coverage has been a disaster for the better part of the year. That’s partially the result of not having an actual kicker for kickoff duties, but our guys have also exercised poor discipline in coverage (as LaVar Ball would say “stay in yo lane”). The Cats cannot get beat with special teams home runs and expect to stay close.

Offensively, the offensive line is nearly as critical as Clayton in this one. OSU’s defense isn’t anything to write home about, but they still have first round NFL talent on the defensive line. The ‘Cats have to avoid letting a few individuals dominate the game and dictate our offensive scheme. Our offense isn’t Purdue, but it’s also not that different schematically at the end of the day when Mick (rarely) gets creative. For that reason alone, I have some hope that the ‘Cats will be able to move the ball.

Defensively, we’re going to give up yards. There’s no way around that. We’re also going to give up points. But, it’s worth noting that OSU has the worst red zone offense in the B1G. Surprising? Maybe. But they rely a lot on the home run. We rely a lot on the bend-don’t-break. If we do a lot of bending and they hit a lot of singles and a few doubles, we’ve got a real shot here.

Thanks to some methodical offensive play, I think the ‘Cats will get this into halftime down something like 17-10 or 17-14.

At that point, the magic kicks in. Some backstory…..

Enter Rose – the van. Trent alluded to this, but Rose is a blessed van. She’s like an actual cat with nine lives… except she’s a 1990’s Chevy G20. Rose used life six, seven and eight this offseason. Her tires dry rotted, her battery died (yet again) and her brakes have essentially ceased functioning. Prior to paying our final respects to Rose, we thought it best to treat her with the utmost dignity in what could be her final season. So, she got a purple paint job. Unbeknownst to just about anyone (including Facilities Management at NU, Dr. Jim and the residents who live near Ashland and Isabella), Rose has a final resting place set aside: Lot 6, Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103. She also has final transportation arrangements made. Simply put, this is destiny.

On to the 2nd half.

Look for the Buckeyes to get tense in the 3rd quarter if this game is close. The ‘Cats will benefit from that by way of some turnovers and some blown coverages and we just may take the lead into the 4th quarter.

If this plays out, it’s time for Mick and Clayton to put up or shut up once and for all. There’s no chance in hell the ‘Cats will be able to hang on against a team like Ohio State. As bizarre as it sounds, NU will have to go for the kill if they have the chance. Purdue proved that it’s possible. You better believe Fitz has reviewed that film multiple times.

It’s your time to shine, Fitz.

Game Score: NU 31 – OSU 20

Play of the Game: Up 24-20 with less than 5 minutes to play deep in our own territory, Thorson throws a backwards pass to Riley Lees who finds Jefferson wide open down the sideline for an 85 yard score.

 Player to Watch: Thorson and the Offensive Line. Ball control will be our best defense early in this game.

Warrior to Watch: Rose. It is written.

Other Game to Watch: The Big XII Championship. See above. We could really use a convincing OU win here.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: One game. One freaking game.

Six years ago the Warriors banded together, bought a dilapidated van off of Craigslist and named it Rose. The implication was that someday, someway, Northwestern would get back to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Now, we are 60 minutes away from making that pipedream a reality.

The Warriors had been talking about painting the van purple for many years, but a lack of organization and effort delayed Rose’s purple coat until earlier this year. The honorable Patrick Grayhack braved the elements and likely some kind of lead poisoning as he went out and painted Rose purple on one hot summer day. Is it a coincidence that the year Rose finally turned purple also happens to be the year the ‘Cats win the West and get a shot at the Rose Bowl? I think not.

This is easily the biggest game for the program since I’ve been a ‘Cats fan. The boys are headed down to Indy this weekend to see One Republic rock out…and also see our beloved ‘Cats take on the Ohio State Buckeyes, I guess. OSU ‘upset’ Michigan in an outcome that shocked most…but shouldn’t have. Urban Meyer had never lost to Michigan, never lost as an underdog and was playing at home. The signs were there for an OSU win, but no one saw a total blowout coming as the Wolverines fell apart on defense and gave up 63 points. How about Pat Fitzgerald and NU making their first B1G title game appearance before Harbaugh and Michigan?

As I wrote a few weeks back, I wanted to face Michigan as opposed to OSU. OSU has the #3 passing offense in the country, and elite athletes at every skill position. When you factor in our beat up secondary, this is a bad matchup. The teams that have given OSU problems this year – Nebraska, Purdue and Maryland – all run an up-tempo spread offense and have speed at the skill positions. The ‘Cats do not play that style, and do not have a lot of speed. OSU’s defense has been much-maligned, but it’s really not that bad and doesn’t rank too far behind the ‘Cats D.

Basically this game feels like a college basketball matchup to me. Whenever you see a team like Virginia matching up with a team like UNC on the hardwood – two teams with competing styles of play – whoever wins the game will come down to who can impose their pace of play on the other. Virginia likes to grind it out, whereas UNC is up tempo – so a game where the teams are scoring in the 50’s caters more to Virginia, whereas a game where teams are scoring in the 80’s plays into UNC’s hands. In this analogy, the ‘Cats are Virginia and the Buckeyes are UNC. We want to slow the game down, play great D and turn this into a rock fight. OSU wants to speed the game up and turn it into a track meet. Whichever team can impose their pace of play on the other will have the advantage.

I have flashbacks to when OSU played Wisconsin back in 2014 in the B1G championship – they were on the outside looking up at the CFP at that point, and needed a statement victory to give themselves a chance to make the top four. They went out and whupped Wisconsin 59-0 in that game and just looked so much more athletic at every position. The Buckeyes are in a similar spot this year, needing a dominant performance in Indy to solidify their spot in the top four. They have better athletes than us at every position, and need to win big.

This could get ugly, and I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest if OSU ran us out of the building. I’d like to think the ‘Cats have a chance here, as we haven’t gotten blown out in a game this year and have showed up each and every time we’ve been an underdog (winning five of those games outright). It’s moments like this, when nobody believes in us and everyone counts us out, that NU shows up in a big way and competes.

In my mind this game comes down to our offense. No what our defense does, Ohio State is going to put up points. They average more than 43 points per game. With their lethal deep passing game they could score on any one play. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats are only scoring 23 points per game. We need to turn this into a rock fight to win – in my mind the blueprint is what Michigan State did against OSU earlier this year. Though Sparty lost, they played a tight, low scoring field position game throughout. If this game is played in the 20s, we’ve got a shot. Once it gets to the 30s, we’re likely SOL.

Sadly I think OSU will be able to score more than 30 points on us. I see the ‘Cats keeping it tight for a while, but a few big plays in the second half puts the Buckeyes out in front and the ‘Cats won’t be able to catch up. Regardless, the Warriors and NU faithful will enjoy the Indy trip, and having our team in this kind of national primetime spotlight is fantastic publicity for our program. To make it to the B1G championship is no small feat, and the future looks even brighter.

Game Score: NU 23 – OSU 33

Play of the Game: Bowser with 2 TDs.

Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser. The kid from working class Sidney, OH grew up in a town full of Buckeyes fans who have been converted over to NU fans ever since Bowser broke onto the scene earlier this year. Many of the folks from Sidney were planning to go to Indy for this game, and I’m sure that number has gone up since OSU beat Michigan.

How perfect would it be for the kid from Ohio to have a big game this weekend? To me, Bowser is the key to the game. If he has a successful day on the ground, the ‘Cats will be able to extend drives, slow the game down and burn clock. If Bowser can’t find room to run, the ‘Cats will go one dimensional and that’s not going to work against a team with so much talent like OSU. If Isaiah can run like he has the past five weeks, we’ll have a chance.

Warrior to Watch: Gotta be Rose.

Other Game to Watch: Really? Are there even other games happening? I guess you could say NU @ IU in basketball, which will be a nice appetizer for the Warriors during the day on Saturday.

 

ZVON

Game Summary: ‘Cats play okay in first half but I don’t think we’ve got the gusto to win. Another loss to An Ohio State University. We’ll get ’em someday.

Game Score: OSU 45 – ‘Cats 21

Play of the Game: Bowser scores a TD to tie it 7-7 in the first quarter

Player to Watch: OSU Marching Band

Warrior to Watch: This has ‘Paul’ written all over it. Does he switch allegiance once the game appears to be squarely in the hands of OSU? Does he wear an OSU shirt under his NU garb?

Other Game to Watch: This is the game

 

ROCHE

Game Summary: Roger’s verbose today, even for him. I am not.

Fetz turns 30 on game day, you guys. The ‘Cats deliver her a Rose Bowl birth for her big day.

I think the ‘Cats get a late score and snuff out a Buckeye final drive to seal the deal.

…Or this game is never close and Ohio State runs away and hides early.

Let’s go with the first one.

Game Score: NU 34 – OSU 30

Play of the Game: Bowser converts a Third and Goal to put the #B1GCats ahead for good.

Player to Watch: Thorson. He’s gonna need to show up for the biggest game of his career for the ‘Cats to have a chance.

Warrior to Watch: Rose is getting ready for her cross-country trip.

Other Game to Watch: I guess Roger makes a good point. Big 12 title game.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: This is certainly the biggest NU game I’ve ever been a part of and I’m pumped that we have five of the seven Warriors making their way down to the Circle City to watch this one in person. Sadly, Rose is taking this week off and resting up for New Years Day.

OSU was unreal last week, but I have to agree with Roger here that they are going to have an intense hangover and think they’ll be able to easily win. Add to the fact that they’ll be dejected after OU wins against Texas and this sets up the Cats well to pull this one off.

NU will keep this game close on the back of Bowser and some surprisingly clutch passes from Clayton – even one scrambling out of the pocket! We head into half time down 21-14.

The Cats D absolutely comes alive in the 2nd half and holds OSU to just 7 points. NU, without a reliable kicker makes a ridiculous 4th down conversion late in the game to tie this one up. WE ARE HEADING TO OVERTIME!!!

The D holds the Buckeyes to a field goal and Bowser gives the Cats their first ever B1G Championship with a 15 yard TD run. We are heading to Pasadena!

Game Score: Wildcats 35 – Buckeyes 31 (OT)

Play of the Game: Bowser’s winning TD run.

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – needs to have some key passes in this game and can’t turn the ball over.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin – how intense is he going to get during this game? Will the Warriors in 117 be able to hear him three sections over?

Other Game to Watch: There is no other game.

HACK

Game Summary: Michael Jordan years ago, the Cats took the purple to Pasadena. Tomorrow, on St. Chrispins Day, the Cats have an opportunity to do it again. Will they? Or won’t they? Only the Gods know.

 Game Score: CATS 33 – OSU 32

Play of the Game: Thorson completes a pass to Kyric McGowan for a 44 yard TD.

Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel. Need a big game.

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day – He brings it on big games and will be in attendance for this one.

Other Game to Watch: The North London Derby on Sunday. Arsenal 6 – Tottenam 0.

 

DAY

Game Summary: Cats Win!

Game Score:  CATS 30 – OSU 28

Play of the Game: Bowser on 4th and 1 to seal the game.

Player to Watch: Claydog

Warriors to Watch: HACK

Other Game to Watch: None.

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Prediction Caturday – Minnesota

cakes

The ‘Cats have won the West! Here are the Warriors’ picks for our game today against Minnesota.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo

 

 

ROGER

Game Summary: Apathy might be at an all time low for the next few weeks. There are two other historic dates in contentions….

November 11, 2000 – Northwestern @ Iowa and Purdue @ Michigan State. 
Both NU and Purdue were 6-1 and leading the B1G. Purdue held the Rose Bowl tiebreaker over NU due to the head to head victory. They also held the Rose Bowl tiebreaker in a multi-team tie (hi, Michigan) atop the conference given that it had been the longest since they had gone to Pasadena (what a dumb rule in hindsight). Purdue got smoked that day in East Lansing. But, that game didn’t kickoff until 2pm EST. NU played at Iowa at 12pm EST. By the time we realized Purdue had a legitimate chance of losing (probably about 3:30pm EST), the ‘Cats had already blown their Rose Bowl chances by losing to a dreadful Iowa team on the road. NU never controlled their own Rose Bowl destiny in this situation.

November 25, 1995 – Ohio State @ Michigan
NU had the week off and had already clinched at least a share of the B1G Championship by going 8-0 in conference. Due to an early season 4th quarter disaster where the ‘Cats blew a 27-7 lead to a then Randy Walker-led out-of-conference opponent Miami (OH), there was still one team holding the ‘Cats back from the Rose Bowl here: Ohio State. The Buckeyes were 10-0 overall and 7-0 in conference. Their overall record would serve as the tiebreaker sending them to Pasadena if they beat Michigan. Thanks to John Cooper (2-10-1 all time as Ohio State head coach vs. Michigan) and an historic day from Michigan’s Tshimanga “Tim” Biakabutuka (313 yards rushing on 37 carries), Blue beat the #2 Buckeyes and sent the ‘Cats to Pasadena. NU never controlled their own Rose Bowl destiny in this situation either.

Enter 2018. As we all know, the ‘Cats lost to Duke and Akron in consecutive weeks. We were 1-3 at one point this season. Yet here we sit. We’ll enter December in uncharted territory: we will control our own Rose Bowl destiny. The ‘Cats have literally never been in this situation. We have played in the Rose Bowl exactly two times – one in 1949 when Big Ten rules prevented the conference champion (Michigan) from going to the Rose Bowl in back to back years and again in 1996 (as mentioned above). In neither situation did we find ourselves in a play-in game. What an opportunity.

We’ll all be there to watch in unfold on December 1 in Indianapolis.

In the meantime, in an hilariously unfortunate turn of events for the rest of the B1G West, there are still 2 more regular season games to be played. I really have no idea how Fitz and company are going to deal with these next 2 weeks. The team has to be riding such a ridiculous high after the festivities in Iowa City. Thankfully, it doesn’t really matter much.

The Citrus Bowl is probably in play if the ‘Cats go 8-4 and lose the B1G Championship. More than likely, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State would get NY6 bowl bids in that scenario. It’s hard to see any other team getting the invite to Orlando in that case simply because a) the B1G pushes for its championship game loser to make the best bowl possible b) NU would have beaten all other contenders (Wisconsin, Purdue(?), Michigan State and Iowa) head to head (I realize bowl committees don’t give a shit about that, but the conference does) and c) none of the other team’s fan bases would be particularly interested in that game given their recent trips to Florida. However, if the ‘Cats lose one of these next 2 weeks then all bets are off for the Citrus Bowl and we’re probably headed to California one way or another (Rose Bowl, Holiday Bowl or Redbox Bowl).

The Citrus Bowl is a nice little bowl game (though a matchup against Kentucky… again… or Mississippi State… again…. sounds really boring), Minnesota absolutely throttled Purdue last week and this week’s game is on the road. Those three factors lead me to believe that Fitz will make sure the the team isn’t totally sleep walking. Though, some of that is going to be out of his control. If the ‘Cats stay woke, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, then I think they’ll walk away with another victory. It’s also important to point out that I think Fitz strongly dislike P.J. Fleck. How can you not? The irony of Fleck mandating that his players show solidarity by wearing a jersey with “Minnesota” written in place of their last name  – yet simultaneously don his bullshit oars on their shoulder pads and helmets – should not be lost on anyone. It’s all about the team….. and P.J.’s brand. This guy is the ultimate loser. Fitz’s dislike for the guy might be a factor in this one.

Look for way too much Isaiah Bowser here (in both a good and bad way…. don’t get hurt) and another pedestrian (but limited turnover) affair from Clayton. That, combined with another stout performance from the front 7 should get the job done.

Game Score: NU 27 – Minnesota 14

Play of the Game: Trying to pick on NU’s backup Sky Team (our DB’s), Alonzo Mayo pulls in a highlight reel sideline pick.

 Player to Watch: Thorson. He simply has to play better on December 1 for NU to have any chance. Will he start to right the ship this week against a suspect Minnesota defense that had some success last week? Or will he continue to look like as much of a pro prospect as Z Von (remember his halftime performance several years ago)?

Warrior to Watch: Doc Roche. Let’s not forget that Doc Roche was a key piece to NU’s clinching the B1G West last week. The ‘Cats needed Purdue to lose to clinch. Everyone knows that. I think some people forget – because it happened earlier in the day – that the ‘Cats also needed Wisconsin to lose at Penn State to clinch. That happened too. And I’m crediting Doc for that one as he made the pilgrimage to Happy Valley to cheer on the Nittany Lions. Let’s hope he never has to do that again (cheer on PSU, that is).

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State @ Maryland. Everyone assumes we’re going to be playing Michigan in Indianapolis. While they are the likely opponent at this point, that still requires Michigan to beat Ohio State next week. Having said that, if Ohio State slips up at Maryland this weekend and Michigan takes care of Indiana then it’s over (regardless of the outcome of the Michigan v. Ohio State game). Michigan it is.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: The ‘Cats have clinched the West with two games left to play. Hell hath frozen over.

Northwestern has gotten better as the season has gone on, and we’re now 5-1 in our last six games, with the one loss coming against a top three Notre Dame team. I’m going to go ahead and attribute a lot of our recent success to the emergence of true freshman stud RB Isaiah Bowser, a kid who I touted as far back as the preseason and who has singlehandedly given the Northwestern offense another dimension (not that we had much of a dimension before). Bowser gashed Iowa, a team that ranked top five in run defense, for 165 yards on the ground. He seems to gain a minimum 3-4 yards every play and always falls forward at the end of the run; he never takes negative plays and he’s got more speed than people realize. You could inject Bowser highlights directly into my veins, I’m addicted.

The defense has come on of late, limiting our last three B1G opponents to 17 points or less. Our secondary has been decimated with injuries, but young players like Ruiz and Whillock have stepped up in a huge way and limited big plays. What really has me excited is the playing time these young guys are getting – that’s going to pay dividends down the road and this team’s future is very bright…in addition to the present.

So let’s come back to the present and talk about this week, a matchup against Minnesota up in Minneapolis. Minnesota is better than people realize, and destroyed Purdue last week 41-10. They sit at 5-5 and need a victory to gain bowl eligibility; they’re going to come out swinging in this game. Coach PJ Fleck is a master motivator and a huge d bag.

I really don’t know where the team’s head is at right now – we are in uncharted waters. Typically when we play a meaningless game in November it means that we have been eliminated from bowl eligibility…but now this game means nothing for positive reasons. Fitz has stated that he’s not going to take his foot off the gas and will play all out, but I don’t fully buy it and I hope it’s not the case. I totally get not wanting to lose momentum and keeping the team fresh, but we desperately need to avoid injuries. This is a great time to let some young talent get playing time and see what they can do…again this will only help down the road as these kids gain more experience.

I see this as a complete toss up game. Northwestern opened as three point favorites but we’re now one point dogs…Minnesota needs this one more than we do. It’s going to be cold as hell for this one, with a high of 24 degrees and 12 mph winds. Expect a low scoring affair. I’ve been wrong about almost every ‘Cats outcome so far this year, so I might as well flip a coin for this one. Heads is Minny, tails is NU…and it’s tails. ‘Cats win.

Game Score: NU 21 – Minnesota 17

Play of the Game: Bowser bursts through the line for a 40 yard TD.

Player to Watch: Just no injuries plz.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. He’s from Minnesota.

Other Game to Watch: Duke @ Clemson. I’m curious to see if Duke can hang around here; Clemson hasn’t played a close game since they almost lost to Cuse.

 

ZVON

Game Summary: Cats win. Don’t know much about MN except that Minnesota has a horrible person as its coach and that they are likely looking forward to Wisconsin, a team they have lost to 14 times in a row. In fact, last year, Minnesota played and lost to both Wisconsin and NU back to back, as they will this year. Last year, the combined scores of those games were 70-0 (NU 39, UMN 0 | Wisco 31- UMN 0). When the Gophers lose this one and the one next week, is PJ Fleck’s boat gonna be at risk of getting rowed outta town?

Game Score: NU 39 – Minnesota 0

Play of the Game: Thorson connects on a broken play to Flynn Nagel for a 60+ yard TD.

Player to Watch: Bowser, guy is a boss.

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack. This kid is big time stuff!

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota next week. Prediction: Wisco 31, Minnesota 0

 

PAUL

Game Summary: CATS WIN THE WEST BABY!!! I haven’t been good at predictions lately, so let’s hope my streak doesn’t continue. Going to be a tough one out in the biting Minnesota cold, but the Cats are clearly the better team here (remember the UofI game?!). Thing is the Cats have a bad case of playing down to their opponent this year and this would be the perfect time to do so, especially with Fitz (hopefully) not looking to take too much physical risk with his players. This is a pray for no injuries game.

Game Score: NU 21 – Minnesota 10

Play of the Game: Moten 25 yard TD run on a reverse

Player to Watch: Alex Spanos! Getting jacked up with the schmedium with a low of 11 degrees projected.

Warrior to Watch: SOTA!!

Other Game to Watch: ND / CUSE

 

HACK

Game Summary: The Cats are heading to Indy but in the meantime its time to deal with our old Boat rowing foe PJ Fleck. The same PJ Fleck who beat them at Western Michigan two years ago. The Cats have long memories and Coach Fitz isn’t about to lose to a team that gave up 55 points to the team downstate. Expect a heavy dose of Bowser and for Clayton to play his best game of the year. Cats win big.

Game Score: Northwestern 35- Minnesota 3

Play of the Game: Bowser turns a 4th and one into a 54-yard touchdown run

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – Let’s get some momentum going towards the ship.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin – Sources say he’s going to begin a hunger strike until the Big Ten Championship game to inspire the team.

Other Game to Watch: The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame vs The Orangemen of Syracuse – A Modern Day Battle of Cullogen at Yankee Stadium

 

ADAY

Game Summary: This game just feels like a trap. Minny has won 3 of the last 5 dating back to 2013. They have shown signs of competence this year despite not being very good. We may come out soft given our current ticket which is already punched. All that said, I still think well pull out a close one in the end.

 Game Score: ‘Cats 28 – ‘Sota 24

Play of the Game: Bowser seals it again, picking up a first down in the waning minutes.

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson, naturally.

Warrior to Watch: Let’s say Trent here. Seems wise.

Other Game to Watch: Cincy @ UCF – Go Bearcats!

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Score: ‘Cats 14 – Minny 13

The Great Debate

B1G-Championship-Logo

The ‘Cats have somehow clinched the West with two games left to play, and now will go to Indy on Dec 1st for a chance to make the Rose Bowl. A pipe dream that led the West Lot Warriors to name our beloved van Rose is now very much a real possibility – if we can win one game, we’ll make the trip to Pasadena (and so will Rose the van…somehow, someway).

Clinching with two games to go gives us the chance to scout our Indy opponent and debate about who we want to face out of the other side of the Big Ten. The B1G East is down to two teams who will play each other in the last game of the year – Ohio State and Michigan. So, who would we rather face?

Michigan:

The ‘Cats played Michigan very tough earlier in the season, taking a 17-0 lead on the Wolverines in Evanston before slowly but surely relenting to a methodical Michigan attack. The Wolverines ran in a TD in the fourth quarter to take a 20-17 lead that would end up as the final margin. Michigan, as they always have under Harbaugh, runs a pro-style offense that the ‘Cats have fared well against this year. The ‘Cats have given up less than 16 points per game to Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan – the three teams we’ve faced that feature that grind it out pro-style offense.

After losing a tight game at Notre Dame to begin the year, the Wolverines have pretty much skated through the rest of their schedule. Other than the tight three point win in Evanston, the next closest Michigan win was by 14 points at Sparty. Does that mean the ‘Cats match up well against the Wolverines, or was our first matchup a fluke? I tend to think it’s the former, and you can certainly argue that Northwestern now is a better team than we were on 9/29 when we first matched up. At that point, we had just learned that our star RB Jeremy Larkin was retiring from football, and reeling after a loss at home to Akron. We rushed for 28 yards in that game, and with the way Isaiah Bowser’s playing right now, you’d have to imagine we’d do better on the ground.

Everyone counted the ‘Cats out, and we showed up in a big way for that next game. If we end up playing Michigan in Indy, we’ll still be widely counted out and large underdogs as Michigan would be playing for a spot in the Playoffs. Vegas would have Michigan as about a 17 point favorite over the ‘Cats in Indy.

Ohio State:

Now we come to Ohio State. You could say they’ve got a worse QB and a worse defense than Michigan. They also got blown out at Purdue, in a tough West Lafayette atmosphere where the ‘Cats prevailed earlier in the year. All in all, they seem like they’re trending downwards whereas Michigan is on the up and up. Should be a no-brainer we want to face OSU right?

Not so fast. I think OSU boasts more talent at the skill positions. They can chuck it deep to a slew of skilled receivers – they remind me of Notre Dame, at least on offense. They have the #3 passing offense in the nation, and would be going against a beat up Northwestern secondary.

Their defense is better than people think, coming in at #56 in total defense, just behind the ‘Cats at #50. I also think people are counting OSU out right now – if they were to get to Indy they’d be coming off a huge upset win over Michigan and have a lot of momentum going in their favor.

The Verdict:

I think we match up better with Michigan than Ohio State and have a better chance to slow down their offense than we would against the Buckeyes.

Even though this seems like it’s Harbaugh’s year, he’s never actually won a big time game at Michigan. The Wolverines have never been to the B1G Title game, just like the ‘Cats. You’d think there’d be no way that he could get all the way to Indy only to lose a play in game against Northwestern that would have placed his team in the College Football Playoff. But, the pressure would really all be on the Wolverines in that scenario. I’d rather face a team that is new to this situation and hasn’t overcome that type of pressure yet, than an OSU team that has been there many times and won the big games in convincing fashion. I have flashbacks to last year when Ohio State looked so much faster than Wisconsin in the B1G title game.

Feels like a game against Ohio State could turn into a track meet, whereas a game against Michigan would be a rock fight. The ‘Cats perform much better in rock fights than track meets.

For all of these reasons, I’d rather play Michigan. Either way it’s going to be an incredibly tough game, but either way we’re going to have a chance. This will be the biggest Northwestern football game in at least 18 years. Let’s hope it comes up roses.

 

Prediction Friday – Iowa

iowa-northwestern

The ‘Cats enter this weekend at 5-1 in the Big Ten, needing two victories out of the next three games to win the West. First up this weekend is a matchup with Iowa at Kinnick Stadium, and the Warriors are split on the outcome.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
Tigerhawk-Multi-colored-vinyl-car-decal Tigerhawk-Multi-colored-vinyl-car-decal nulogo Tigerhawk-Multi-colored-vinyl-car-decal Tigerhawk-Multi-colored-vinyl-car-decal nulogo nulogo

Here are our records on the season thus far:

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
4-1
3-4
4-3
4-2
3-4
4-3
3-4

On to the picks…

 

TRENT

Game Summary: I visited Kinnick Stadium back in 2014 and watched the ‘Cats get obliterated 48-7 the day after Halloween. It’s a very tough place to play, and the Hawkeyes are planning a ‘blackout’ game for our matchup on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes are coming off the wrong end of two incredibly close losses that could have gone either way. They need this game to keep any hope alive for a B1G West championship. The ‘Cats don’t necessarily need this game, as we could still beat Minnesota and Illinois in our last two games to make it to Indy.

As well as the ‘Cats have played on the road this year (3-0!), I don’t see this game going well. When we played on the road at MSU, Vegas had us as 11 point dogs. That line made sense as we were coming off back to back losses against Duke and Akron at home. Now, as the ‘Cats sit at 5-1 in the B1G, it makes a lot less sense to have us as 10 point dogs against an Iowa team that is 3-3 and has struggled of late. Setting a double digit line here means that Vegas is trying to push the uneducated public to bet on Northwestern, knowing that the sharp money will be all over Iowa. That’s a bad sign that we’re going to get destroyed, and the sharps in Vegas know it.

Now the ‘Cats have a habit of performing well as underdogs, and zigging when people think we’re going to zag, but I don’t think that happens on Saturday. I think our offense will struggle mightily against the Iowa D, and they’ll build a lead that will turn us one-dimensional. Thorson will throw a few picks, and the ‘Cats can’t ever climb out of the hole.

Game Score: NU 10 – Iowa 30

Play of the Game: In what has become an awesome tradition, Fitz and the Northwestern student-athletes will participate in the ‘Iowa wave’ to sick kids at the children’s hospital next to Kinnick Stadium at the end of the first quarter.

Player to Watch: Our secondary took a beating last week with some key injuries. Need some of our young-uns to step up. Is Greg Newsome healthy?

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day. He’s got the rewards points geared up and ready to go for a potential trip in Q4 2018. And maybe another in Q1 2019!?

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Penn State. This 11am game will be a nice appetizer for the Warriors on Saturday. If Wisco goes down in Beaver Stadium, the ‘Cats odds for Indy will look even brighter.

 

ROGER

Game Summary: Apathy is still very low. And it will be next week even if we lose on Saturday. That said, Clayton may give us reason for apathy to reach an all time high against Illinois in our final game of the year (and not because we’ve clinched the West… because Purdue or Wisconsin has essentially clinched the West). Simply put, Clayton has been awful for that vast majority of the year. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. In fact, he was awful his entire freshman year as well. Last year, he was a middling B1G QB at best. While he was above average during the back half of his sophomore year, we shouldn’t forget that he was atrocious (see a 9-7 loss to Illinois State) for the first part of that season. Sounds like quite the NFL prospect.

Thankfully, NU has found a way to win division games this year in spite of Clayton. We have a good defense.

I watched some of our offensive film from the ND game. It was eerily similar to the Michigan game. Essentially, ND’s ends would pin their ears back and force Clayton to run for his life even with 7 in coverage. The result isn’t pretty when that happens. Clayton is about as mobile as Tom Brady (which doesn’t help), but our receivers struggle to get separation with 7 in coverage so they aren’t doing him any favors. While Clayton made some horrific throws (I see you Cam Green), he also didn’t have many opportunities to advance the ball even with good throws. Nobody was open.

I think Iowa’s D line will have similar success in this one. If the Cats can’t stop the 4 man rush then I don’t see how NU will have any sustained offensive success.

One might say that our defense can win this game even without sustained offensive success. Maybe. But, we’d be banking on either a) Our depleted secondary to play well b) Kirk Ferentz to not take advantage of our depleted secondary or c) Nate Stanley to suck.

Hmmm….. all of those are actually quite possible independently. I’d say in order of likelihood, it goes B, C, A. Ferentz is Iowa’s version of Fitz. You think Fitz would adjust his offense to attack the other team’s defensive deficiency? Me neither.

Cats win a close one because it’s that kind of year.

Game Score: NU 21 – Iowa 19

Play of the Game: Iowa scores a TD to cut NU’s lead to 2 with less than 2 minutes remaining. Going for 2 to attempt to tie the game, Nate Stanley is sacked by Joe Gaziano.

Player to Watch: Thorson and the O Line. If the O Line forces Iowa to rush more than 4 to get to Clayton and if Clayton actually gets his act together then I’m very optimistic about this.

Warrior to Watch: AdayNU. The game is at 12:30 PST. That’s a lot better than the 9:00 am affairs he has had to suffer through on our recent road trips.

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Penn State. Brad (as Rus likes to call Alex Hornibrook) won’t be playing this week. A Wisconsin loss here and a win against Purdue next week really sets up NU to fall flat on their face and still make the B1G Championship Game.

 

A DAY

Game Summary: This seems like a typical Northwestern loss for me. Hopes are high, confidence is up, perfect time to get blown out. I’m not falling for it ‘Cats… I wasn’t born yesterday. ‘Cats come out flat, Iowa does not. We lose. I’d love to be wrong. Please prove me wrong. PLEASE.

Game Score: Iowa 35 – NU 17

Play of the Game: Garbage time points baby.

Player to Watch: Clayton. Clayton. Clayton.

Warrior to Watch: Gonna go with Paul. Why not.

Other Game to Watch: OSU vs MSU, should be fun

 

HACK

Game Summary: Always fun to travel to Iowa City where the crowd is loud and regularly proves they have the ability to spell 4 letter words. Its been an exciting week for Iowa as the state prepared to welcome home its prodigal son, Mr. Blake Yocom, and earlier this week a former Iowa football player was appointed acting Attorney General. as most of our eighteen readers know Pat Fitzgerald hates Iowa because they broke his ankle on a cheap play and prevented him from playing the Rose Bowl and most likely breaking Keyshawn Johnson’s jaw. Northwestern always gets up for Iowa and this game tens to be a good one. Iowa and its fans are continually shocked by this despite the fact that the Cats have won 7 of twelve games under Fitz against them. Enough color time for the game, as we saw last week, Northwestern struggles against mobile quarterbacks, who are accurate passers, but fortunately for the Cats Nate Stanley has the mobility of Rose, our beloved Van with a completion percentage below 60 percent. As for Iowa’s rushing attack, they rotate a steady dose of three mediocre backs, who the Cats linebackers should take care of. The worrying matchup is Iowa’s tight ends and wide receivers against a banged-up secondary. Can the Cats bounce back against the best group Iowa’s ever had including likely first-rounder Noah Fant. On the other side of the ball, Iowa is strong against the run, which may limit the reptilian runner, Mr. Bowser. Their linebackers are described as quite mediocre by their own fans, so maybe he can find some running room, but I wouldn’t count on it. Once again it looks like this game may come down to Mr. Thorson. Clayton needs to have a good game if the Cats are to emerge as victors. Luckily for him, Iowa is starting a couple of Freshman at cornerback. These fellows spent most of the last game chasing Purdue wide receivers as the caught deep balls. Clayton has some issues with the deep ball, so I doubt that will happen this week but if he hits underneath targets, and doesn’t turn the ball over, Iowa should struggle to score. I think the Cats win this one in a tight one because I think Clayton will make more plays and or fewer mistakes than Nate Stanley.

Game Score: Cats-17 Iowa -14

Play of the Game: Jake Collins lips the field position battle with a 84-yard punt downed at the Iowa 2 yard line

Player to Watch: Travis Willock-Iowa’s tight ends are the best players on the team. Can the other Katy kid shut them down?

Warrior to Watch: Paul- He’ll be at Lindey’s in New York City. What does he want? Purple shots!!!

Other Game to Watch: Bears vs Lions – Tim Grayhack is a Lions fan, so this one matters in the Hack household

 

ZVON

Game Summary: I actually think the ‘Cats come out and play well. I mean I think we are going to find some way to lose the Wild Wild West because well, we’re the CATS. However, I think we play well here. I think this game is one that we could actually win in OT, so I’ll guess that. Iowa City will have fun win or lose.

Game Score: NU 30 – IOWA 27

Play of the Game: Whoever is able to kick for the Cats kicks a game winner in OT

Player to Watch: Kicker guy.

Warrior to Watch: Let’s throw one Roger’s way.

Other Game to Watch: OSU vs MSU, cool.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: Cats can’t pull this one out as the Hawkeyes go wire to wire and are never down this game. Will make Minny next week nerve-racking in order to get to the B1G Championship.

Game Score: Iowa 31 – NU 24

Play of the Game: Punt return for a TD for the Cats

Player to Watch: Thorson

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. Dude loves Iowa City.

Other Game to Watch: Auburn @ Georgia

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary:I think Iowa’s a decent team. I think Northwestern  is also decent. But Iowa is at home. Analysis.

Game Score: Iowa 24 – NU 20

Play of the Game: Late touchdown to cover

Player to Watch: Clayton.

Warrior to Watch: Z.

Other Game to Watch: Penn State – Wisco.

 

Prediction Friday – Notre Dame

Tomorrow’s game is at 6:15pm and night games are always tough ones for the Cats, including this season.  Five Warriors think the Cats will win this one.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo

Andy has maintained a perfect record, but avoided making official predictions for Akron and Wisco. and Wisco. Roger & Hack have have been the best records for predictions made on all published games.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
4-0
3-3
4-2
3-2
3-3
4-2
2-4

Onto the predictions….

ROGER:

Game Summary: Apathy is at an 18 year low. As I noted last week, the ‘Cats had a chance to take control of the West. Well, they did that and a lot more. We got some help with both Purdue and Iowa losing. Indianapolis is still a long ways out (it could become closer with an Iowa loss at Purdue this weekend), but it’s now officially there on the horizon.

This week’s game won’t have any impact on our beloved Rose’s pursuit to reach her final resting place in Pasadena at season’s end (side note: when NU next plays in the Rose Bowl the van is being towed out West for her last hurrah on the Rose Bowl grounds), but it is VERY significant for many reasons.

First, the Cats are playing a top 5 team at home under the lights with a lot of momentum and very little to lose. Truly, this game has no impact on NU’s ability to achieve their season’s goal(s) of getting to Indy and winning the B1G. My good friend Bags has informed me that ESPN still gives us a 39% chance of reaching the College Football Playoff if we win out (that includes wins against top 5 Notre Dame and Michigan as well as a conference title), but that seems like complete rubbish because this is still a team with 3 losses…. one of which was to Akron. So, there’s nothing to lose. That’s one hell of an opportunity that is not bestowed on every team.

Beyond that, this game is historically significant for the Northwestern football program. For those who follow the program (even from a distance), you know that Northwestern football has a metaphorical BC and AD.

Northwestern football BC was ugly. NU still holds the longest losing streak in FBS history at 34 games. Thankfully, few people acknowledge that because it was BC.

AD began on the afternoon of September 2, 1995 in South Bend when the ‘Cats walked right out of that shit hole in Northern Indiana with a victory over the #8 Irish despite the 27 point line. As the saying goes, the rest is history. Rose was born that Fall (literally… she’s a 95), the ‘Cats won at #7 Michigan, skunked Wisconsin 35-0, beat #12 Penn State in front of Keith Jackson and College Gameday and played in the Rose Bowl for the first time in half a century. Yours truly witnessed the last game firsthand that New Year’s Day. I was 8 years old. To this day, it’s still one of the most vivid memories I have.

Fast forward two decades and you have a Northwestern football program that is perennially competitive. In this time frame, NU has won 3 B1G championships, played in 13 bowl games (winning 3 of its last 4), posted 10 win seasons twice in the past 3 years and beat ND…. again…. in South Bend.  In fact, Northwestern football AD has never lost to Notre Dame.  All of that would have been absolutely unfathomable for Northwestern football BC. But none of that would have ever been possible without September 2, 1995.

So, when NU takes the field on Saturday night all bets are off.

To Notre Dame, this game is another one against a mediocre foe in their quest for the College Football Playoff.

To Fitz, and those who remember Northwestern football BC, this game is the culmination of everything that has changed in the last 23 years.

The Irish are coming to Ryan Field for the first time since 1976…. and they’re going to lose.

How’s it gonna happen?…….

ND is good, but I’m not really going out on a limb when I say they are probably the worst team to reach one of the top 4 spots in the College Football Playoff era. Their front 7 is better than their secondary. Their QB is good but not particularly mobile and prone to youthful mistakes. And, they have quality skill position players, but they aren’t track stars.

Does all that ring a bell? Well…. it should. Because it sounds a whole hell of a lot like Michigan State and Michigan put together. And if you haven’t been following along closely, let me give you an excerpt from my prediction for the MSU game…..

If we rewind to last Saturday for a second, there’s a very clear reason why NU was competitive in the game and had a chance to win in the 4th quarter – Michigan runs a conservative, pro-style offense with little regard for exploiting the opponent’s deficiencies (side bar: this is a large reason why I think Harbaugh is a fraud). Funny enough, Michigan State has been VERY similar for the past decade with this approach…. despite the fact that they’ve churned out reputable NFL QB’s left and right. I don’t expect them to be quite as conservative offensively as Michigan (see Lewerke torching NU’s defense last year in a losing effort), but they’ll be boring enough to keep this game close for no reason.

Well, if Jim Harbaugh is a fraud, then Brian Kelly is Hue Jackson. ND should win this game, but they don’t match up particularly well with Northwestern and they won’t find out how to exploit NU’s deficiencies until it’s too late.

Hartage Island is going to be a key to this one as the ‘Cats will get A LOT of pressure on Ian Book and stuff ND’s run game thanks to some isolated corners playing well.

Bad Thorson has played 2 weeks in a row now. Thankfully, it hasn’t mattered. I expect good Thorson to appear in this one and I’m looking for big games from the usual suspects (i.e. Nagel) as well as a Rondale Moore-like performance from Kyric McGowan.

The West Lot is going to be bumpin’ like it’s 1995.

Game Score: NU 34 ND 24

Play of the Game: Mick runs a speed option for the first time all season. This time, Riley Lees is playing QB. He hits the second level and pitches to Kyric McGowan for a 50+ yard TD.

Player to Watch: Kyric McGowan – just got a feeling here… this kid can run.

Warrior to Watch: The whole crew…. it’s gonna be one merry afternoon in the West Lot.

Other Game to Watch: Iowa @ Purdue. It cannot be anything else (I don’t care about Alabama vs LSU). If Purdue wins, NU can go 2 for 3 down the stretch and still reach the B1G Championship Game.

TRENT

Game Summary: The ‘Cats are all of a sudden in the driver’s seat in the B1G West. It’s hard to believe that after a 1-3 start which included a loss to Akron, we’re now 5-3 and in control of our own destiny. Northwestern smothered Wisconsin last weekend, amazingly rushing for more yards than the Badgers.

Now, it’s on to Notre Dame. We’ve had this game circled on our calendars for years. I remember when they announced a four game home and home (and home and home) series between the ‘Cats and the Domers, and Notre Dame backed out to shorten it to two…after we’d played the first game of the series and beaten them in South Bend. In 2014 many of the Warriors made the trek to Indiana and witnessed one of the greatest games of our lives.

After the ‘Cats trailed by 11 late in the fourth quarter, I remember walking to the exit with my head held high, knowing the ‘Cats had played hard and avoided embarrassment at the hands of the Irish. But, as I started down the tunnel out of the stadium, a strange sort of hushed cry rang out from the stands – something big had happened and it didn’t sound like it was good for Notre Dame. Turning around, I approached a security guard on the side to ask what had occurred. Before he could finish his sentence, I’d started sprinting back towards my spot in the stands where most of the Warriors still drunkenly stood strong. Notre Dame had fumbled, the Wildcats had recovered, and all of a sudden we were back from the dead.

Trevor Siemian, yes Trevor Siemian, got himself drafted to the NFL that freezing afternoon in South Bend as he led the ‘Cats down the field, hit Kyle Prater with some clutch passes and set us up in field goal range. Jack Mitchell, yes Jack Mitchell, made a clutch kick to take the game to OT. Notre Dame missed a FG in OT, Mitchell drained another kick, and all of a sudden we had a wildly improbably 43-40 victory on our hands.

I’ve always disliked Notre Dame, and the behavior of their fans at that game certainly didn’t help their case. It was one of the most satisfying feelings ever to walk out of there with a victory. Since then, they canceled two of the other planned games in our series, but…they weren’t able to cancel this one. We went to their house, now they have to come to ours this weekend.

The football gods did us a favor and made this a night game, meaning the West Lot will be out of control. This is our Super Bowl. But we have nothing to lose.

Typically Northwestern fans get severely outnumbered at Ryan Field by any large opposing fanbase. I expect the crowd to be in our favor for this game. For once, this will feel like a home game for us. Fitz will have the team fired up and ready to play – he hates Notre Dame.

The ‘Cats seem to have found a running game with freshman RB Isaiah Bowser, who adds balance to the offense and takes some of the pressure off of Thorson. If Thorson can avoid mistakes (he threw three picks last week and we still won pretty easily) the ‘Cats should be able to get enough done on offense. I expect the defense to show up in a big way and force a few turnovers off ND. Fitz will pull out a trick play at some point.

I’m seeing this as a tight game throughout, with the ‘Cats getting the ball back late with a chance to win. Thorson leads us down the field, and Luckenbaugh hits a short FG as the ‘Cats pull out the win and the crowd…goes….wild.

Game Score: ‘Cats 24 – ND 21

Play of the Game: Montre Hartage pick six.

Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser. Against Wisconsin he was able to churn out 3-4 yards a pop, which helped set us up for third and short. That gave McCall the option to either run or pass or third down, and kept the defense guessing. Let’s hope Bowser can do the same against ND.

Warrior to Watch: Doc Roche is in town!

Other Game to Watch: While we play a meaningless non-conference game, Iowa heads to Purdue in an important B1G West matchup. Should Purdue pull that game out…the ‘Cats are in good shape. Go Boilermakers!

ROCHE

Game Summary: What kind of Kool-Aid you guys drinking? I love the ‘Cats as much as the next guy, but c’mon. Northwestern beat an injury-riddled Wisconsin team – a Badger squad that gifted the game with all those turnovers. Meanwhile, Northwestern played well enough to win. But they still have a lot of questions on offense (which Clayton is going to showup? How will Bowser do against a much better ND front?). They held Wisconsin to 17 points, but last time I checked Ian Book is much better than Jack Coan, and he’s got more options.

Northwestern is the favorite to win the B1G West. But they ain’t gonna beat the Fightin’ Irish.

(I also want to re-remind everyone how awful of a game they played against Rutgers two weeks back. I don’t trust the ‘Cats to put up the complete performance needed to beat Notre Dame)

Game Score: ND 31 – NU 20

Play of the Game: All the ridiculous kickoffs that’ll happen with our injured kickers.

Player to Watch: Which Thorson will show up?

Warrior to Watch: Really looking forward to being in the West Lot with you guys again.

Other Game to Watch: Iowa – Purdue.

A DAY

Game Summary: Guys… I’m just excited. Night game. Top 5 opponent. Drivers seat in B1G West. This is gonna be a tailgate for the ages. I think the energy will be electric and the ‘Cats will feed off it. The defense is really humming right now. Clayton hasn’t looked good… but neither did TD Trev in 2014 and then he came out and threw a gem. I’m too excited for us to pick anything but a ‘Cats W. It’s a close one but ‘Cats pull away in the 4th.

Game Score: ‘Cats 31 – ND 28

Play of the Game: The Flyin’ Hawaiian, Chad Hanaoka scores his first career TD on a check-down in the red zone.  🤙🤙🤙

Player to Watch: Clayton, need a bug one here buddy.

Warrior to Watch: ROCHE NO DOUBT!

Other Game to Watch: Boiler Up baby.

HACK

Game Summary: Here we go the Notre Dame Fighting Irish come to Evanston to face the red-hot Cats under the lights. Notre Dame’s worst game of the year so far was against a mediocre to bad Pitt team that held them to 19 points. Pittsburgh is coached by a collection of Big Ten veterans led by former Michigan State D coordinator Pat “The Nard Dog” Narducci and his defensive coordinator of that team was none other than former Cats linebackers coach Randy Bates.

My takeaway is this team is beatable if you don’t turn the ball over and can get pressure on Ian Book who is prone to stupidity. I think the defense will show up because Notre Dame’s o line is not that great and their skill guys are good, but not speedsters. This game comes down to Clayton, who despite his inconsistencies is pretty good when Mick Mccall gives him the keys to the O. I think he can score 3 touchdowns against this Irish D, probably all in the first quarter(jk lol). Will it be enough to win? Signs point to yes

Game Score: NU 21 – ND 19

Play of the Game: Greg Newsome blocks an extra point in the second quarter

Player to Watch: Montre Hartage – Can he shut down Boykin

Warrior to Watch: Roger – He loves Notre Dame almost as much as he loves Donald Trump

Other Game to Watch: Iowa – Purdue – Boiler Up MOTHERF*CKERS

PAUL

Game Summary: It doesn’t seem like four years ago when the warriors traveled out in style to South Bend to witness one of the greatest fourth quarter comebacks (complete coaching failures) in Northwestern history. Saturday is setting itself up for a déjà vu as the Cats are under the lights against #4 Notre Dame on ESPN. While all the nation’s eyes may start out on the Bama/LSU game, if my prediction is right, they’ll be flipping to the game in Evanston by halftime (Bama will be up 17 at that point).

NU will need to keep the pressure on the ND offense with perfection coverage and tackling this game. ND is not as good as their ranking (just look at their nail-biters against Vandy, Pitt, and BALL STATE), but they’ve got confidence and they want to avenge their home loss from four years ago. The first half will be a big defensive battle and both teams will get a TD with ND also gettting a FG for a halftime score of 10-7 Domers.

NU will come out of the gates in Q3 and get a touchdown on a nice 7 yard run by Bowser after a great 25 yard sideline catch from Nagel. ND will answer back with a TD in the 4th (17-14) and heartrates will be elevated at Ryan Field as the Cats have to line up for a 40 yard FG to tie the game with less than a minute remaining. Koobs (in for Luckenbaugh) drills it sending the Cats into OT where they force a fumble on a sack and leave it up to the offense to get a score. After genius Mick McCall runs the ball up the middle three straight times we only get 5 yards, leaving the 37 yard kick up to the injured kicker. He drills is. Pandemonium in Evanston.

Game Score: NU 20 – ND 17 (OT)

Play of the Game: 37 yard FG to win the game in OT by Koobs

Player to Watch: Bowser – we’re going to need to have a great ground assault for this one. The defensive secondary is close second.

Warrior to Watch: The Whole Squad This Week. MNUGA!!!

Other Game to Watch: Let’s be real – Bama / LSU is the pick here.

ZVON

Game Summary: Wishing for a cats victory is certainly what we are all doing. Alas, I think we fall short – similar to how the OSU game from ‘13 went down. Looks like we could win but we don’t.

Game Score: ND 27 – NU 21

Play of the Game: Bowser runs over an ND LB on way to a big 3rd down conversion early in the game.

Warrior to Watch: Andy and Roche

Other Game to Watch: Purdue/Iowa

Happy Highlight-ween

The Wicked Witches of the B1G West have a big game a-brewin’ on Saturday. In order to get everyone pumped up, we’ve got some clips from the last two times we played beat Notre Dame.

And, just because Dave Eanet is the best… “The Cardiac ‘Cats are Back!”

Things That Were Happening the Last Time Notre Dame Beat Northwestern

Yes, yes… Notre Dame leads the all-time series record a whopping 37-9-2, however, since the loss to the Irish in September of 1994, the Wildcats are undefeated. To celebrate the start of ND week, here are some things that were going on the last time ND beat the ‘Cats:

Ace of Base Tops the Charts

What a coincidence that this song is frequently played at WLW tailgates. The top single of 1994 is The Sign by Ace of Base.

D2: The Mighty Ducks Released

Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson tries to derail the hopes of Team USA (better known as “The Ducks”) as they look for Gold in the Junior Goodwill Games. Can head coach Gordon Bombay overcome the distractions of LA to lead them to victory?

The US Hosts the 1994 World Cup

The US made the Round of 16 for the first time since 1934 which began a renaissance for the USMNT. This video is super 90s and I love it.

There is No World Series Due to a Strike

The poor Expos lost their chance at a World Series due to a strike. They were 74-40 that year, and atop the NL East. Don’t worry, the Cubs sucked that year.