Prediction Caturday – Wisconsin

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The undefeated Cats and Badgers meet at Ryan Field this afternoon in a contest that will basically decide the B1G West. This game was supposed to be played at Wrigley Field, with two whole viable end zones. Damn you, 2020.

Let’s see the picks…

 

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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TRENT (3-1)

I cannot overstate the importance of this week’s game against Wisconsin. This is the biggest clash we’ve had since 2018 Ohio State, which offered us a chance to make the Rose Bowl. This is the most important regular season game since…maybe 2015 Michigan? 2013 Ohio State? The 2000 season? To put it simply, this is a big one. 

Wisconsin’s defense has allowed 18 points in two games, while their offense has scored 90+. They’ve looked absolutely dominant against Michigan – showing no rust from two weeks off due to COVID. It’s terrible to say but the best thing for the ‘Cats here is for Roche’s prediction of ‘no contest’ to occur, allowing us to skip this one and knocking Wisconsin out of B1G West contention. Let’s assume and hope that will not happen. 

Wisconsin has pummeled their opponents in all phases of the game to-date – there is a reason that ESPN had them listed as the fourth most likely team to make the playoff this year at the beginning of 2020. But, this is not Ohio State or Alabama. Those two teams that they pummeled? They are 2-6 on the year (and easily could have been 1-7 as IL kicked a late FG to beat Rutgers). The Badgers have beat up on two bad teams. They have a freshman QB, who has looked great to-date, but was also sitting behind Jack Coan to start the year. 

Maybe you see where I’m going – I love this spot for the ‘Cats. Heavy underdogs at home. No fans in the stands, so that we won’t see a 75% red stadium on Saturday. Cold rain in the forecast (maybe that’s a wash). In really sad news, one of our former weight training coaches passed away this week. Fitz will have the guys playing hard in honor of his memory. 

Game Summary:
Forecast for Saturday is temps in the 40s, 10-15 mph winds and a 60% chance of rain. This for two teams that will play great D. Here’s some free advice: take the under. 

I anticipate a slog fest and both teams trying to run the ball – Wisconsin with more success. We could not run at all against Purdue, and it made the game much closer than it needed to be at the end. Purdue’s rushing defense is ranked #54 – Wisconsin’s is #6. It’s going to be tough going on the ground – and while we can’t go completely one dimensional, I honestly hope we will abandon it if it’s not working.

This game is all about Peyton Ramsey. He came up clutch against Purdue and we need him to play lights out this week in the rain. Notorious RCB stepped up in a big way and looked like Austin Carr out there with three TDs. Our offense is not great, but we’ve made plays when it counts. If we can do that again, and win the turnover battle, we can win this game. 

Game Score: NU 17 – WI 16

Play of the Game: Eku Leota sack forces a fumble, which Bergin scoops up and scores. Aren’t we due for a defensive score??

Player to Watch: Peyton Ramsey

Warrior to Watch: Paul

Other Game to Watch: Purdue – Minnesota. If Purdue loses this game, we’d basically have to lose out not to finish in the top two in the West.

ROGER (4-0)

This game is important. I agree with Bag. It’s also a COVID season and everything is completely out of whack. So, unfortunately, that does take away from some of the luster here. I fear it could also take away from the legitimacy of a significant NU accomplishment – winning the B1G or making an NY6 game.

But, whatever. It’s still entertaining and the ‘Cats are clearly still good. They would be good if this was a normal season. They also probably would have lost to a MAC team for no reason in non-con play.

Wisconsin appears to be very good. Forget their results to date because it’s hard to judge from one week to the next let alone with a 3 week gap between playing shitty opponents. That said, they look fast. That’s very un-Wisconsin like. They also have their best QB since Rus Wilson. He’s young though…. so maybe he’ll make a few mistakes in a hostile environment like Ryan Field with no fans.

As far as NU goes, their offense needs to be better. The general lack of a run game for several weeks now has been very disheartening. While the ‘Cats amassed yards on the ground against Nebraska and Iowa, they did it in random chunks. There wasn’t any consistency there. NU’s ground game was horrid this past week against a below average Purdue defense. Some reasonable play calling and Peyton’s knack for converting third downs have kept the offense out of McCall territory. But, they aren’t far off statistically. Don’t believe me? The ‘Cats are currently 75th in offensive efficiency. The execution has to be better this week or this game could get ugly. 

Game Summary:
Look for Wisconsin to try to start fast in this one. In their first 2 games, they seem more inclined to do that than in years past. Hopefully this results in an early pick from Mertz. He’s going up against a far better secondary than the trash Illinois and Michigan put out there. This might get him off his game as he hasn’t faced one bit of adversity as a college quarterback thus far.

NU’s defense should be stout again. Wisconsin will get their yards on the ground, but the ‘Cats will stop drives when they need to. That’s what this defense does best.

The outcome of this game is going to come down to Peyton Ramsey’s ability to throw the ball downfield. NU is more likely to need chunk plays in this game as Wisconsin’s defense is not going to allow the ‘Cats to methodically drive down the field. So, somebody needs to get open and Peyton needs to deliver.

Look for a nail biter going into the 4th with some unexpected heroics from a receiver or two way down on the depth chart. 

Game Score: NU 27 – WI 23

play of the Game: Bryce Kirtz gets open behind an ambitious Wisconsin DB and scores on a 55 yard TD catch late in the 4th. 

Player to Watch: Ramsey

Warrior to Watch: Z Von… his significant other went to Wisconsin. Will they still talk to each other after the game?

Other Game to Watch: Meh… Not sure much else matters here. The winner of this game is going to win the West barring Wisconsin winning and then having another COVID cancellation. I’m curious to see Indiana play Ohio State. Indiana is a 20 point dog…. seems disrespectful. 

DOC ROCHE (0-0)

No contest due to COVID.

HACK (4-0)

his week the following things have happened to my teams: The Bears sucked, Theo left, and the Bulls announced they were tanking again. 2020 keeps telling us to get on the line and blowing the whistle. It’s time for a team to be our Mike Eruzione and save us from more pain. Are the Cats that team? I hope so.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEXS8TBd6ug

Game Summary: We know this game is going to be ugly. Every Cat’s fan knows that this game will take years off their life.
Whether or not the Cats are able to win will depend on the following factors:

An ability to run the ball

Not turning the ball over.

Turning turnovers into Touchdowns
Breaking off chunk plays

A consistent pass rush

Making Wisconsin work for every yard

A lucky bounce or two

Game Score: NU 14  – WI 13

Play of the Game: Northwestern blocks a 45-yard game-winning field goal attempt.

Player to Watch: Defensive Ends – Need to pressure Mertz in a big way.

Warrior to Watch: Z Von, people are saying he might join Twitter if the Cats win.

Other Game to Watch: Arsenal vs Leeds United: The game got feisty last year in the FA cup. 

ANDY DAY (4-0)

I had a dream about this game last night, and unfortunately I already bet on ‘Cats +7.5 prior to this vision. It goes as follows (yes, this actually happened in my dreams last night):

Game Summary:
The Warriors were all together at an outdoor sports bar, drinking waiting for the game to come on. Somehow, we manage to not realize the game has kicked off an hour ago, and get the establishment to change our TV to the ‘Cats. As the game turns on, we get a big interception that leads to a touchdown one play later. ‘Cats now lead 13-6! I leave for the restroom, and take my time getting back to our table. By the time I return the ‘Cats are down 40-13. I don’t know how it happened, and it happened fast. The game ends with the same final score

Game Score: UW 40 – NU 13

Play of the Game: Clearly the INT that sets us up for a TD.

Player to Watch: Whomever allowed UW to score 34 points during my trip to the restroom.

Warrior to Watch: Gonna go with Z here. Will a mid-game tweet from Paul send him off the deep end?

Other Game to Watch: COVID.

PAUL (4-0)

Game Summary: The Cats always play Wisco tough and this is going to be the only year for NU to ever have a shot at the College Football Playoffs. They’ll need to beat Wisco today and then beat OSU in the B1G Championship and they’ll likely punch their ticket. A man can dream.

Game Score: Wisco 25 – NU 26

Play of the Game: Scoop and Score by #77 – I have no idea who this is. Just have a feeling.

Player to Watch: #77

Warrior to Watch: Hack. How will his Wisco lake house neighbors react if NU dashes their hopes for the season. I hope he’s flying the NCat flag up there! 

Other Game to Watch: OSU / INDY. Visiting my sister and BIL this weekend and they’re both Buckeyes. Could NU win and OSU lose?!?!

Prediction Caturday – Purdon’t

After another big win last week against the Huskers, the ‘Cats are 3-0 and ranked in the polls. Can they keep it up in West Lafayette at a strange 4pm start time?

 

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America:  Ralph Nader, Wesley J. Smith, Michael Mendelsohn: 9780375752582:  Amazon.com: Books nulogo nulogo nulogo

TRENT (PICKS 2-1)

The ‘Cats eked out a win against a flawed Nebraska team, improving to 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time in 20 years. This week will be a much tougher test against Purdue. That is a strange sentence to write.

I have big concerns about Purdue’s David Bell and Rondale Moore, who you could stack up against pretty much any other WR duo in the country. Rondale missed the first two games and I’ve been Googling his name each day to check on his status for Saturday – if he is out, this game is much more manageable. Our secondary has been the strength of our team to-date, and curious to see how our strength lines up against Purdue’s.

There’s no doubt about it – this is a huge game. Purdue was lucky enough to miss Wisconsin due to COVID, and really only has one very loseable game remaining, against Indiana. If we beat the Boilermakers, we are a game up with a tiebreaker, and have about the same difficulty of schedule from here on out. We lose, and we’re in a spot where we would essentially need to make up two games down the stretch. If we win Saturday, and Wisconsin falls to Michigan…watch out.

Game Summary: I see the ‘Cats pounding Purdue on the ground in this game. The Boilermakers have the 83rd ranked rushing D, and we sat out Bowser last game to rest him up for a big load on Saturday. As I mentioned in my prediction last week (which played out), we’ve seem to have found our identity as a team that pounds the ball on the ground, plays great D, and wins on third down and in the turnover battle. 
This is typically a spot where the ‘Cats falter – ranked, favored on the road – but after last week I’m hopeful for our future. It will be close throughout, but I see the ‘Cats building a lead early and holding on for dear life at the end for a big win.

Game Score: NU 21 – Purdon’t 17

Play of the Game: Bowser catches a screen pass for a TD

Player to Watch: Greg Newsome. He came back last week after missing two weeks with injuries, and was called for approx. 17 BS penalties. The refs seemed to throw a flag every time he breathed on another player (guess that saying takes on a new meaning during COVID). Will we have him shadow Bell or Moore on Saturday? He will play an important role.
Warrior to Watch: Andy Day. They love those night game start times out west.

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Michigan. How will the Badgers look after two weeks off? Will they be starting their fourth string QB? I’m not one to root for the Wolverines, but a Michigan win here would be big for the ‘Cats.

DOC ROCHE (0-0)

No contest due to COVID.

ZVON (3-0)

Cats 29 – Purdon’t 28

ROGER (3-0)

The ‘Cats appear to have quite the defense. They are giving up yards, but they lock down within the red zone and have an unbelievable knack for the timely play. Let’s hope the 90 minute streak of 2nd half shutout football continues on Saturday.

I’m a bit more optimistic that the ‘Cats will be able to plow this week. To be honest, their offense has been quite shit thus far. There’s clearly more ingenuity in Bajakian’s playbook than there was with our good friend Mick, but the numbers right now don’t reflect any sort of improvement over McCall’s offenses. NU ranks below 100 in offensive efficiency. Simply put, that sucks. 

I’d like to see Ramsey scramble a bit more. He’s very good as an improviser but he seems a bit hesitant to actually do that. On the flip side, he doesn’t have a strong arm. That was apparent last week. He looks like Tim Wakefield trying to hit 80mph on a fastball. So, throwing downfield consistently might not be in the cards. 

Here’s to Bowser playing and the O line putting guys on their asses.

Game Summary:   
Per the above, NU will try to grind this one out (as they always do). Purdue isn’t really interested in that type of game, but I think the ‘Cats will have success dictating tempo in this one.
Expect a healthy dose of Bowser (or Brown) mixed in with some mid yardage chunk plays from Lees, McGowan and Raine.
I see no reason the defense won’t continue their bending and not breaking routine. This may be the biggest challenge the secondary will face all year, but Purdue’s QB is a sitting duck in the pocket and I expect the ‘Cats to get to this guy several times.

Game Score: NU 31 – Purdue 20

Play of the Game: Ramsey with a loooooooong scramble on 3rd down to essentially seal the game.

Player to Watch: The D Line…. see the Game Summary above. 

Warrior to Watch: Bag. Why not?

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Michigan. I don’t think there’s any other option here. This is really the only other game that has any impact on NU’s season. Go Blue?

PAUL (3-0)

Cats 33 – Boilermakers 20

ANDY (3-0)

Game Summary: Likely more of the same. Stout defense, sub-par offense, game ends with more points for the ‘Cats than their opponent. I’ll be up in Sonoma drinking wine until about kickoff time (this schedule change really throws a wrench in my plans) so I’ll likely be watching the first half from the car on the way back to SF. Really hoping I don’t have any reason to throw my phone out the window.

Game Score: NU 24 – Purdue 20

Play of the Game: We actually run play action on 1st down and get a nice wide open receiver for a TD. Probably RCB if I had to pick someone.

Player to Watch: Payton Ramsey. He’s been a decent game manager but I’d like to see more. 

Warrior to Watch: Roger. I hear he has a nice Burgundy ready for a nightcap after the game.

Other Game to Watch: I guess I gotta say it… Go Blue?!

HACK (3-0)

Game Summary: The Cats are undefeated, but back to back mediocre performances against decent competition have left me wondering what this team is. In regards to the Cats, my state of mind matches that of Missouri. In other words, I need the Cat’s to “show me” something. 

Purdue received a Covid bye last week, which will definitely help them and begs the question is Wisconsin’s covid outbreak a clever attempt by the Badgers to weaken the Cats before their matchup next week. Our investigative team will have more on that next week. Unfortunately for Purdue, two of their three best players are likely out this week.

NU O vs Purdue D

The Cats are currently 103rd in the SP+ offensive ratings while Purdue is 60th on D. This matchup appears to be in Purdue’s favor, however, George Karlaftis is the heart and soul of this D and without him, they were outscored by Illinois led by 4th stringer Coran Taylor. Theoretically, Northwestern should get better as the season progresses and they learn Coach Jake’s system better. Could this be the game for the Cat’s to break out?

NU D vs Purdue

Strength on Strength. David Bell is a stud and Horvath is a nice back, but Rondale Moore hasn’t played yet and he would make this offense dynamic. The Cat’s haven’t allowed a second-half point yet, and have been very good against everything except quarterback runs. Aidan O’Connell can’t run and will struggle like an Irishman on the morning of March 18th. If Rondale Moore plays, this could be really interesting…

Game Score: NU 35 – Purdue 24

Play of the Game: Greg Newsome reads and intercepts a bubble screen to David Bell and takes it the other way for 6.

Player to Watch: Earnest Brown – The line needs to get some pressure in order to disrupt the Purdue air attack.

Warrior to Watch: Trent- He really hates trains.

Other Game to Watch: Bears vs Vikings – There may be a wager on this one amongst the boys…

Prediction Caturday – Nebraska

Our ‘Cats are 2-0 and face the Huskers this week. Funny enough, five years ago another McCaffrey brother in red and white came into Ryan Field and had his worst outing of the year. Can the ‘Cats replicate that success today with a strong defensive effort?

 

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo No Contest (film) - Wikipedia nulogo nulogo nulogo

TRENT (1-1 PICKS RECORD)

Our ‘Cats are 2-0, literally as good as we could have hoped at this point in the season. I was pretty impressed with the resilience of the squad to come back from a few terrible mistakes in the 1st quarter against Iowa and an early 17-0 deficit. It was a good feeling to still have belief that we were in a game even facing that kind of hole – that’s the benefit of having a competent QB, you feel like you’ve at least got a shot to come back. The identity here is what I believe we’ll see a lot of from the ‘Cats this year – run the ball, play great defense, and let Peyton Ramsey manage the game.  

This week we face the Huskers in a matchup that always seems to be close. Their mobile QB Adrian Martinez always gives us fits. Nebraska got a “bye” last week after their game against Wisconsin was canceled due to COVID. Will that help their team with the extra rest, or will they come out rusty?

Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats start faster this week (it would be hard not to) and expect a run-heavy game plan against the Huskers. I like the three man rotation we’ve got going at RB, with Bowser carrying the bulk of the load, Drake Anderson coming in as a scat back, and sure-handed senior Jesse Brown coming in at the goal line. Expect Peyton Ramsey to pick up some yards rushing himself, and reconnect with John Raine through the air (#0 had 0 catches last week).

We’ll put up some points this week, so it’s a matter of our D holding Nebraska down. Our defense has looked pretty spectacular so far this year, ranking #3 in the country in S&P. Mobile QBs always give us trouble, but I think we will stop the Huskers just enough to eke this one out.

Game Score: NU 33 – UNL 27

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey hits Raine for a play action TD.

Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher. Can he contain Nebraska’s mobile QB?

Warrior to Watch: Paul. Long week.

Other Game to Watch:  Michigan State @ Iowa. MSU beat Michigan in the Big House last week. Iowa blew a 17 point lead at home to the ‘Cats. And yet the Hawkeyes are favored by 9 in Kinnick. Seems like a strange line?

DOC ROCHE (0-0 PICKS RECORD)

No contest due to COVID.

ROGER (2-0)

Game Summary: This game should be significantly different than what we saw last week. Nebraska can and will move the ball. That said, our offense will likely open up a bit more against this team.
I think the game ultimately comes down to how successful our defense is inside the red zone. If we can keep Nebraska out of the end zone more often than not then I like our chances.

Game Score: NU 30 – Lil Red 23

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey with a 30 yard scamper on a crucial 3rd down.

Player to Watch: The O Line… they seem to be getting better.

Warrior to Watch: Everyone… what a week.

Other Game to Watch:  Meh…Purdue and Wisconsin won’t be played so I don’t care about much elsewhere.

ZVON (2-0)

Cats win by 2

PAUL (2-0)

House Divided Game for the Huettners
Well be seeing two Reds lose this week. 
Huskers 23 – Cats 31

HACK (2-0)

Game Summary: Traditionally, the Cats struggle against athletic QBs and Nebraska has two of them. We did well against Lil Tua in week 1, and he looked good in week 2, so maybe we’ve figured this out. I doubt it. The Cats secondary is pretty good, so I would bet on them taking advantage of some less accurate throws from the two-headed monster at QB. Luckily, Nebraska is not great at defense. Ohio State can make anyone look bad, but they were straight up not having a good time against the Buckeyes. I think we’re in for a shootout with some more touches for Drake “The Brakes” Anderson out of the backfield to get the people going. Also, Malik Washington might break out this game.

Game Score: NU 31- UNL 28

Play of the Game: Luke McCaffery is intercepted by Greg Newsome for 6.

Player to Watch: The defensive ends: They need to keep contain on the outside.

Warrior to Watch: Andy – His second favorite Wiener was a winner and what better way to celebrate than with a Cats victory.

Other Game to Watch: Clemson vs ND: Will Clemson be able to overcome the Golden Domers without Trevor Lawrence? Also, how weird is it that Trevor Lawrence lives by himself in college?

ANDY DAY (2-0)

Too lazy to write a summary. ‘Cats eek out a win.
NU 21 – Neb 16

Prediction Caturday – Iowa

The ‘Cats went 1-0 last week and shellacked the Terrapins back into their shells. This week brings up a big big matchup in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes. Can the ‘Cats pull it out on Halloween?

 

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo Tigerhawk-Multi-colored-vinyl-car-decal nulogo no contest nulogo nulogo nulogo

TRENT

editor’s note: this was written before the Maryland-Minnesota game last night. I was right about the game being one to watch, but will admit Tua’s brother impressed.

Of all the possible outcomes for game one, the ‘Cats winning by 40 was not one that I had on my radar. I’ll give myself a pat on the back for my prediction of an easy win for once, but I did not see a scenario where we’d look that dominant. Granted Maryland is probably horrible, and Taulia Tagovailua is obviously benefiting off his brother’s name, but still, for us to do that against any B1G team is lovely to see. 

Peyton Ramsey is just super solid, and reminds me of Dan Persa with the way he plays and his mannerisms. His accuracy and his wiggle in the running game were what stuck out the most to me. Mike Bajakian may seem like a genius after game one, but that may just be a reflection of how horrid Mick McCall truly was, and how truly horrid Maryland is. But damn, it was so refreshing to see WRs getting open and RBs getting room to run. And how about an actual TE on the field making an impact. John Raine is the truth, he may be my second favorite player on the team behind my boy Bowser. 

So recap over, now a quick hit on Wisconsin. They’ve got six players with COVID, including their current first and second string QBs. Paul Chryst and five other members of his staff also have it. Their game against Nebraska is canceled, and Wisco loses those six players for 21 days. This is going to completely scramble the B1G West and could take the Badgers out of contention for the B1G championship if they miss two additional games. Does this open things up for the ‘Cats?

Back to our game this week, at Iowa. The Hawkeyes had some serious internal issues this summer with calls of racism and internal turmoil within the team and coaching staff. Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the conference, and makes way too much money for doing his typical 7-5 or 8-4 dance each year. The Hawkeyes lost game one to a shorthanded Purdue, and you can just imagine what the temperature will be in Iowa City if they open with losses to the Boilermakers AND the Purple Wildcats. Can those folks in Iowa take the internal BS ON TOP off losses to those two teams which they see (fairly or not) as lowly opponents in the scheme of the B1G? I think not. I think Ferentz will be on the serious hot seat if that scenario plays out, and honestly I think he’ll be coaching this game like his job depends on it. 

Game Summary: I don’t see our offense having the same success as we did in game one. Iowa’s defense is a far cry from the sieve that was the Terrapins D. I’m anticipating a slugfest in a cold Iowa City, with Bowser having some success but ultimately the ‘Cats going down in a close one.

Game Score: NU 23 – Iowa 28

Play of the Game: Bowser continues his success in Kinnick with another long TD scamper.

Player(s) to Watch: The O Line. After a solid performance last week, that unit is going to have a much tougher test this week. If they can open holes for the RBs and give Peyton some time, we’ve got a solid chance. If they can’t, it’ll be a long day.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin. This game is on Halloween. What will he wear?
Other Game to Watch: Minnesota – Maryland on Friday night. This will serve as a barometer to show us if NU’s blowout win against the Terps actually was impressive. Also curious to see how Minny bounces back after a L against Michigan.

Other Game to Watch: Minnesota – Maryland on Friday night. This will serve as a barometer to show us if NU’s blowout win against the Terps actually was impressive. Also curious to see how Minny bounces back after a L against Michigan.

DOC ROCHE

No contest due to COVID.

ROGER

Cats won last week…. so did COVID. Wisconsin and Nebraska will be a “no contest” this weekend. Again, I’ll be shocked if NU plays all 8 scheduled games.

Back to the football. Yes, Maryland is terrible. That said, last season’s version of NU would not have been able to march up and down the field and beat them by 40. So, we’ve got that going for us.

I think Ramsey is a legitimate Power 5 QB and that goes a long way in making an offense look functional. I also appreciate how Bajakian seems to have simplified the run blocking and protection schemes. No more of that Mickey Mouse McCall shit leaving our QB back there to get clobbered.
This week we have Iowa. I didn’t watch them last weekend, but they lost to what many considered a suspect Purdue team (without Rondale Moore no less). So, I’m assuming this is your typical Kirk Ferentz Iowa squad: a team that vastly underachieves given they probably have a few 10+ year NFL players at non-skill positions. 

Game Summary: See the underachieving part above…. I suspect our defense will do the bend but not break thing in this game because Iowa will shit the bed when they most need to move the ball. Ramsey will be solid again and we’ll establish a running game that gets more effective as the game goes on.

Game Score: NU 27 – Iowa 17

Play of the Game: Iowa’s QB gets blindsided on a JR Pace blitz and fumbles deep in his own territory.

Player(s) to Watch: Probably the offensive line again. They were good last week, but they played Maryland. Has the simplified scheme helped? Will Skoronski look the part again against a better front 7?

Warrior to Watch: Me. I have a majestic Halloween costume.

Other Game to Watch: I guess we start watching the B1G West… we have a short season and games are already getting canceled. NU could look the part and make it to Indy or they could back their way in with some help elsewhere (i.e. more Wisconsin games canceled). If NU gets off to a 2-0 start and you have an 0-2 Iowa, 1-1 Tonka and 1-? Wisconsin, then this could get interesting very quickly. 

ZVON

CATS 30 – IOWA 21

HACK

I would like to apologize to two groups for my prediction last week. I underestimated the Cat’s D and to the rest of the panelists of this illustrious group for exposing them as Pharisees of the highest order. I alone predicted that the Cats would treat the Terps like the Germans have treated the French Army since Napoleon. I kept the faith. I knew that no one rolls into Evanston on a cold October night for a season opener and leaves with their dignity still intact. 

Now, let us turn to this week wherein the Cats travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes. In this matchup of the two longest-tenured coaches in the Big Ten, we have two programs in very different places. One has been wounded by scandal and staggers into this game like a sickly water buffalo. The other is creeping silently in tall grasses waiting for its moment to separate the weak from the herd. Iowa is the one team Coach Fitz truly hates and he always has the boys ready to play against them. Time to deliver the hammer blow and end the Ferentz era.

Game Summary: Think of this Iowa team like an older Mike Tyson. They clearly aren’t in their prime, but the knockout punch is still within their grasp.

Iowa O vs NU D: This Iowa team’s strength appears to be their wide receivers, which is an odd thing to type. Northwestern appears to be loaded in the defensive backfield so strength on strength should be fun to watch. The Hawkeyes have a talented but inexperienced qb and a solid o line as always. If they were to open up the play calling a bit, they might fare better, but this is Iowa and they won’t. Expect many punts and run, run, pass sequences.

NU O vs Iowa D: This Iowa D is not your typical Hawkeyes D. Iowa might have the worst secondary that I’ve ever seen an Iowa team have. They got torched by a Purdue team playing with one albeit great wide receiver. The Cats don’t have a receiver of Bell’s quality, but they do have 6 or 7 good options for Peyton Ramsey to pick out. I expect for him and the receivers to have a field day. The front seven is solid but lacks the typical Iowa star power and depth. It will be interesting to see if the Cats and their young o-line can get a run game going against them. I think it’ll be a slow start on the ground with later chunk plays as the Cats salt away the game.

Special Teams: Iowa has a very good kicker and a punter from Australia, who we will be seeing plenty of on Saturday.

Game Score: Northwestern 31- Iowa 10 

Play of the Game: Paddy Fischer stuffs a qb sneak from the 1 for a turnover on downs.

Player(s) to Watch: Joe Spivak and Jake Saunders. These two hog mollies need to play well if the Cats are going to contain the world’s most boring offense.

Warrior to Watch: Roger, let’s just say he’s hauntingly beautiful.

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State – Penn State Should be fun, I guess.

PAUL

Game Summary: Cats spook the Hawkeyes

Game Score: Northwestern 26 – Iowa 19 

Play of the Game: Fake FG for 1st Down

Player(s) to Watch: Paddy Fisher

Warrior to Watch: HACK – will he turn into a vampire?

Other Game to Watch: The Battle For Michigan

ANDY DAY

Game Summary: I think ideally we will still be able to score. Clearly not as easily as last week, but should be able to get some momentum and put up some points. I feel like our defense is better than Purdont’s, so we should be able to keep them from putting up too many points. I think we get an early lead and never give it back. We get a scare at some point in the 4th, but a big stop shuts the door and we end up with a nice W.

Game Score: NU 27 – Iowa 20

Play of the Game: Ramsey Scampers for a huge 1st down which lets us run out the clock

Player(s) to Watch: Bowser – he had some moments against MD but only averaged 3 YPC (compared to 6.1 as a unit). How will he handle an undoubtedly better Iowa D?

Warrior to Watch: Roger – he sold dope to kids.

Other Game to Watch: B1G football, i guess?

Caturday is Here: Maryland Predictions

It’s finally here. Northwestern is actually playing football tonight. Our setup will look a little different today as the Warriors break a streak of nine straight years of tailgating in our namesake West Lot. Rose the Van is on life support, with her future very much in doubt as the sun rises this morning. We’re not sure she’ll survive the day.

But in life, as one chapter closes, another begins. It’s a new football year and there is reason to be optimistic about our ‘Cats on the field. Even if only for a few hours, we’ll relish each snap by the only Big Ten football team audacious enough to don purple. We’ll try to forget about the pandemic raging around us, and come together for a few hours to cheer on our ‘Cats.

Before we get into the picks, a quick statistical note. There are only TWO teams in the Big Ten against whom NU has a winning record historically. The first is Indiana – we lead the Hoosiers in the lifetime series 47-35. The second is Maryland, against whom we are 1-0 with a win in 2017. Let’s keep that record in the plus column today. On to the picks…

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo 5229  nulogo nulogo nulogo

HACK

Game Summary: Mick McCall is gone, I repeat Mick McCall is gone and the Cats are back!
I have no clue what to expect from this Northwestern team on offense, but I think Coach Jake will overcome his groin injury to lead the boys to a big performance in the opener. It doesn’t hurt that Maryland has more holes than swiss cheese on defense. The Cat’s D will be good. Maryland is frisky but I think they’re undisciplined and loose with the football no matter who they are starting. There are rumors that Greg Newsome may be out, which could be trouble given the talent Maryland has at WR. I don’t think it’s going to be close folks.

Game Score: NU 42 – MD -21

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey 75 yard touchdown pass to tight end John Raine.

Player to Watch: The young WRs – We have some good veterans at the top of the depth chart (expect Riley Lees to be on the Patriots practice squad next year) but, Malik Washington, Genson Hooper Price, and Wayne Dennis Jr could provide much-needed splash plays.

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day, he’s got a new patio and he’s going to use it

Other Game to Watch: Nebraska – Ohio State – There can be only one punishment for treason, death by Justin Fields’s hands.

ROGER

Northwestern football is back.

I’ll definitely watch. How could I not? But, I have mixed emotions about this. The B1G did the right thing initially by postponing the season only to later capitulate to the pressure of the almighty dollar. Sadly, this already appears to be a dumb move. The University of Michigan has placed their students under a shelter-in-place order, but naturally this doesn’t apply to the football team. Absurd.

With the B1G’s marginally more restrictive COVID rules, I suspect there will be more than 1 team that fails to play all 8 scheduled games and I’ll go out on a limb and say at least one team will fail to play more than 4 games (note: if any player tests positive, he must sit out for 21 days).
So, here’s to hypocrisy and sidelining all reason for some entertainment on Saturday…..

Game Summary: Maryland is sneaky athletic. They have a 5 star wide receiver and a very highly recruited dual threat QB (NU wanted him). If you recall, this team annually peaks in Week 1 or 2 (multiple wins against Texas in recent years). I doubt they will have much trouble moving the ball against NU for the aforementioned reasons. The question will be whether NU’s offense can show some life to make the game interesting.
I’m cautiously optimistic we will see more of an offense this year… and hopefully a well balanced one. Given that, I think Ramsey and Co. will actually be particularly effective at slowing the game down and making this a close one.

I like the ‘Cats late in this one if for nothing else than their experience in those games and Ramsey’s poise and presence as a 5th year QB.

Game Score: NU 27 – MD – 25

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey 25 yard read option scamper for a score.

Player to Watch: The Offensive Line. Without Slater, this could be ugly. They have to be exponentially better for this team to be worth a damn. 

Warrior to Watch: Rusty. Sources say he turns 48 today.

Other Game to Watch: Nah. Not much interest elsewhere this season.

ZVON

I like the Cats but haven’t paid attention much this off-season because I thought there would be a season-off.

Game summary: idk – cats QB looks somewhat decent. Which would be a nice change since last season.

Game Score: Cats 27 Maryland 14

Player to Watch: Peyton Manning Ramsey

Warrior to Watch: Hack Attack

Other game to watch: I haven’t watched one down of CFB this season so no idea

PAUL

Game Score: Cats 32 – Terps 27

TRENT

For some godforsaken reason I’ve got a lot of confidence in the ‘Cats on Saturday. This is based on three factors:

  1. Fitz is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten.
  2. We have one of the most experienced teams in the conference.
  3. Maryland missed a lot of practice this fall.

In such a weird, disruptive year, having a coach who’s familiar with his team, and players who are familiar with each other, seems pretty important. Granted, our most important player is a transfer from another school, and we’ve got a completely new offensive coordinator. 

The ‘Cats are favored by 11 (!!!) against Maryland on Saturday. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the ‘Cats, it’s that you never take them as a double digit favorite at home, especially against a conference opponent. But it’s a good thing that you can’t bet the ‘Cats in IL because I would be very tempted this week…

Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats new offense starts strong and runs all over Maryland in the first half. Transfer QB Taulia Tagavoiola (not going to try and spell it right) has a rough start with a pick six and a fumble as the ‘Cats D hangs strong. Bowser goes wild and Peyton Ramsey works in enough play action to be dangerous. 

In the second half, the Terrapins storm back and wear down our defense with an intermediate passing game. They crawl back within a score, but a long run by Drake Anderson seals it late. 

Game Score: NU 31 – MD – 17

Play of the Game: Pick six by captain JR Pace. 

Player to Watch: Peyton Ramsey. Gotta be in his first start for the ‘Cats. 

Warrior to Watch: Hack. It’s his Bday!

Other Game to Watch: Michigan – Minnesota. We’re rooting for the B1G East in every crossover game (aside from our own).

ANDY

To be completely honest, when I first heard that the B1G season was cancelled, I thought it was a prudent move. When they decided to return, initially I wasn’t that excited. But lo and behold it’s the Friday before Gameday and I’m freakin’ AMPED. LET’S GO ‘CATS!

Game Summary: I honestly have no clue how things will go here. Lots of uncertainty. My thoughts are that the offense will not be the worst in the country as it was last season, but it will not be light years ahead either. Realistically somewhere right in the meaty part of the bell curve. I hope that is the case, because last season watching our team required eye-gouging. I think Maryland will have some successes, and we’ll have some miscues, but at the end of the day, we make a few more plays than they do and pull out the W.

Game Score: NU 24 – MD – 21

Play of the Game: Isaiah Bowser 42 yard scamper and score.

Player to Watch: Ramsey. Can he deliver like he did at IU? If so, giddy up.

Warrior to Watch: Tempted to call my own number here, but I’m gonna have to say Grayhack. Seems like a no brainer.

Other Game to Watch: B1G games I guess? I don’t really care what’s happening elsewhere, tbqh.

DOC ROCHE

No contest due to COVID.

Through Rose Colored Glasses – NU Season Outlook

The best part of 2020 is that it puts everything in perspective. The ‘Cats had a rough year in 2019. We won one game in the Big Ten, our last. Our three wins included Illinois, UNLV and UMass. But here in 2020, you look back and say, “eh”, maybe that year wasn’t so bad.

The  ‘Cats were picked to finish either 6th or 7th (Of 7) in The Big Ten West in every single CBS Sports Preseason poll. Every other team in the West was picked by at least one writer To finish in the top 3. Our highest ranking was 6th.

This is where I put on my optimism hat. If I know anything about the Cats, it’s that we zig when people expect us to zag. When we are expected to perform, we fall apart. When no one expects us to be any good, we are halfway decent.

Our offense finished last in the Big Ten last year. We played five different QBs. But why would this year be any different? When you get a solid QB and a solid new O coordinator, it’s a new variable factor. And again, perspective. When you’re comparing to Mick McCall, even a bunch of children piled on each others’ shoulders inside a trenchcoat, wielding a playcalling sheet, would look solid in comparison.

But seriously, Bajakian brings a new offense to the scheme. Up tempo. Runs a lot. Uses TE. No more Superbacks. And he’s got a QB to run the system. Again, we played 5 QBs last year. None of them were even mildly competent aside from Marty (and maybe TJ Green for 5 snaps). Now we pick up Peyton Ramsey “Bolton,” a starter at Indiana. PFF absolutely loved Ramsey last year…

That’s about all the time I have to write, so wrapping this up with a few quick hits.

Player to watch on offense: John “Purple” Raine, TE. This transfer from FAU had some decent success with the Owls last year and brings some experience to a position group that did absolutely nothing last year. We need some pass-catchers to get open this year, and I’ve got a good feeling that Raine will become a go-to target for Ramsey. Ramsey’s obviously the most important player on the team, but going with Raine here who’s a little more off the radar.

Player to watch on defense: Earnest Brown IV, DE. With Miller opting out on the D line and Gaziano now in the pros, a position of general strength for the ‘Cats gets weaker. Brown is now our best player on the line – can Earnest generate some pressure on opposing QBs this year?

Most important game: @Iowa week two. Most people are picking Minnesota or Wisconsin to top the Big Ten West, but I feel this Iowa game is more important because it sets the tone for the year. Kinnick is typically a brutal place to play, but no fans will take some of the sting out of it. Win this game, and it could propel us on a really nice path with a very manageable schedule this year.

We’re Back

I’M SO HAPPY WE ARE PLAYING B1G FOOTBALL ONCE AGAIN. THE YEAR WOULDN’T FEEL COMPLETE WITHOUT AN 11AM WILDCATS – TERRAPINS GAME AT RYAN FIELD IN 50 DEGREE WEATHER. INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS PLS. 

I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL IN 2020. HERE ARE 6 REASONS WHY I THINK WE COULD DO WELL THIS YEAR!!!

1.       We have more returning players than any team in the B1G – in fact, we have the most returning production in the nation. This was true at least until Rashawn Slater decided to opt for the NFL. Great decision btw. I’m assuming this stat is still true but I’m too lazy to double check. 

2.       We have a competent QB. I always liked Peyton Ramsey at Indiana. He can run, he can throw a decent ball, and he makes good decisions. Not flashy, not incredible, not insane. But solid. And solid is a huge upgrade over the heaping pile of dog shit that took snaps for us last year.

3.       We have one of the easiest schedules in the B1G. We avoid Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan – the three best teams in the East. There really isn’t a terrifying single game on our schedule, or a terrifying stretch of games. The schedule is well balanced to the point where the toughest two games we play back to back are @MSU and @Minnesota – not fun but manageable.

4. Who cares if there aren’t fans? NU has a home field disadvantage anytime we play a powerhouse school. So no fans may actually help us at home. And on the road, it’s definitely a help to us. Playing a game at Kinnick just won’t be as intimidating this year.

5.       We’re nerdier than other schools which equates to less chance of our players getting the rona. I’d say JK LOL but I think there is a bit of truth to that. Let’s be honest, the party situation at NU is lacking compared to pretty much every other B1G school. Less saliva swapping imo. Plus NU is again ranked as a top 10 school in the country. That means our players will make good decisions right? Though perhaps we should have followed LSU’s lead and just infected every kid earlier in the year to build up those antibodies.

6.       We have one less B1G game to play during the regular season. Smaller sample size favors the underdog. It inserts more randomness into the equation. Less games mean less chance for the ‘Cats to eff it up. Less is more in 2020. Let’s just be happy we have ‘Cats football at all!

Prediction Caturday – Indiana

Fitzy

The ‘Cats are sliding backwards, now sitting at 1-6 on the year after 5 straight losses. Can they turn things around in Bloomington in a night game against the 5-2 Hoosiers? Let’s see what the Warriors think.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: Well we had been trending closer and closer so it’s not a surprise that the ‘Cats got shut out on Saturday. In 5 of our 7 games this year, we’ve scored 10 points or less. That’s mind boggling.

I would say there’s good news and bad news, but surprisingly it’s really only good news. Firstly, this offensive ineptitude has whipped up what’s left of the fan base into a fury directed at Mick McCall. Fitz better get rid of McCall this offseason and use him as a scapegoat, because otherwise that fury will take aim at him. When your stadium is not even half full on Homecoming (and it wasn’t just because of the rain), the administration is going to take notice. Saturday was rock bottom for the Fitz era, no doubt about it.

The other good news is that we all know we’re bad, and thus there is no stress or pressure in watching a ‘Cats game. Our tailgate last Saturday was a blast, because you barely even needed to watch the game and could focus on the important things like drinking and more drinking.

My analysis of this Saturday’s game is that Indiana is actually pretty good, and Northwestern is not. Indiana is the only B1G team (aside from Maryland, against whom we are 1-0) who we have a winning record against. We are almost 13 point underdogs in Bloomington in a strange night game – my biggest guidance to you would be to take the under. Instead of further analysis, enjoy this drinking game for Saturday:

Sack – sip your beer

Offensive 3 and out – 1 drink

Change at QB – 2 drinks

Aidan Smith pick – 1 shot

Hunter Johnson pick – 2 shots

Safety – Malort shot

FG – Finish your beer

NU Touchdown – Vegas Bombs!

Game Score: NU 6 – Indiana 24

Play of the Game: We score points!

Player to Watch: Hunter Johnson

Warrior to Watch: Z Von

Other Game to Watch: Nebraska – Purdue. Nothing like some bad B1G football.

 

ANDY DAY

Game Summary: Indiana is not half bad. They are going bowling which is more than we can say for ourselves. I don’t think their defense is especially good, but their offense can score points in a hurry and we can not. I predict we will end our touchdown drought, but the game is never in doubt for Indiana.

Game Score: NU 13 – Indiana 27

Play of the Game: Drake Anderson TD scamper.

Player to Watch: Mick McCall – can he do anything against an average defense (#42 according to SP+)

Warrior to Watch: Trent – he came up with a drinking game for goodness sake.

Other Game to Watch: Gotta be the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, right?

 

ROGER

Have we reached the floor yet? Or do we still have further to fall? Note to Z Von (resident further/farther expert): while you could argue the use of either “further” or “farther” here (I’d listen and probably disagree), “further” makes more sense. Yes, we are referring to a distance which would ordinarily imply farther. However, in this case, the distance is metaphorical (though, for Marv in the video, it’s real). Thus, further. QED.

The offense can’t get any worse. I suppose we could score fewer than 13 points in November, but that’s about the only way it can get worse for them.

The defense can certainly get worse though. I fear it will in this one.

Game Summary: From an X’s and O’s perspective, Ohio State and Indiana are our two worst matchups this season. This Indiana team ran up and down the field with a backup qb against a very good Michigan State defense. They are VERY likely to do the same to us.

Unfortunately, our offense is appreciably worse than Michigan State’s.

This one will get ugly in a hurry as Indiana races to an impressive 7-2 start to the season.

Game Score: NU 7 – Indiana 45

Play of the Game: Andrew Marty throws a garbage TD pass in the 4th quarter. Hooray, points!

Player to Watch: Fitz – he’s being a real asshole and showing that he can’t handle adversity. Furthermore, I’m starting to wonder if Mick has become a convenient scapegoat for problems that stem from the head coach. The ‘Cats don’t need to win here (let’s not ask for too much), but Fitz damn sure better come to play.

Warrior to Watch: Z Von – he’s gonna have the Nest rockin.

Other Game to Watch: The Cocktail Party for sure. This is being overlooked here, but both UF and UGA still control their own destiny. Watch out for those Dawg fans in St. Simon’s Island this weekend.

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary: meh

Game Score: NU 10 – Indiana 21

Play of the Game: The van takes a well deserved week off.

Player to Watch: Hunter and/or Aidan

Warrior to Watch: Trent – please make sure he survives his drinking game.

Other Game to Watch: Florida – Georgia because of course

 

PAUL

Game Summary: It’s a night game so that’s fun, I guess.

Game Score: NU 12 – Hoosiers 18

Play of the Game: Mick runs a draw play on 3rd and 13

Player to Watch: Will Hunter play?

Warrior to Watch: Bag after the 3rd quarter.

Other Game to Watch: Super boring week. WLOCP it is.