We’re all loaded up on turkey and stuffing, so maybe these predictions will be a tad loopy… but without further ado, our predictions.
Game Prediction: The Land of Lincoln Trophy returns to Evanston after spending two years (too many) in Champaign. The Northwestern defense steals the show, holding Nathan Scheelhaase an company without a touchdown. Meanwhile, Kain Colter and Venric Mark return to the gridiron, slicing the Illinois defense for three total TD. Trevor Siemian adds another through the air to Dan Vitale. Northwestern opens a sizeable lead early, and though they don’t blow it, we’re all still on the edge of our seats waiting for Illinois to make it interesting.
Score: NU 31 – ILL 9
Game Highlight: 3 interceptions by the defense.
Game Projection: Both teams start out sluggish but once the second quarter rolls around both teams take off. The ‘Cats strike first with a 6-yard strike from Colter to Jones (one of them, not sure which). Scheelhaase gets a few nice runs and challenges our secondary towards the end of the second quarter and NU goes to half with a slim 10-7 lead. The second half is a different ball game, however, as NU finds their rhythm on offense and the ‘Cats defense holds strong. The increased pressure on Scheelhaase causes him trouble and he throws two picks in the second stanza. Zach Oliver finds the field on the last NU drive of the game and throws for a score.
Score: NU 38 – ILL 10
Game Highlight: Dan Vitale circus catch for a TD
Game Projection: Assuming Colter and Mark are relatively healthy (they weren’t last week so this is a bit of an assumption), the ‘Cats ground game will be far too much for IllAnnoy. While the ‘Cats may not have quite as much success on the ground in this game as they did against the Hoosiers, IllAnnoy is too undisciplined and not quick enough on the edges to stop a healthy and determined Colter and Mark combo. The game may still close through the first quarter and a half, but the ‘Cats should pull away. IllAnnoy’s offense will prove too anemic against a determined ‘Cats D to make the game close in the 2nd half. ‘Cats win and cover the spread!
Score: NU 34 – ILL 13
Highlight: Ibraheim Campbell with the hit of the year to jar the ball loose on a 4th and desperation attempt on IllAnnoy’s final drive to lead the ‘Cats to an 11-1 record ATS in 2012.
Game Projection: This is the most confident I’ve ever been for NU facing off against another Big 10 team, so of course that means this game will not be a walk in the park. I think the Illini strike first, with a Scheelhaase TD pass, but the Cats answer back with a 15 yard run for Venric Mark. The Cats will go with the Venric and Colter show for most of the first half, and Colter runs in another score to make the score 14-7 Cats. The Illini come out to tie the score in the third, but then the Cats pull away with another TD and a Pick 6 of Scheelhaase. The Cats pour it on in the 4th with a Mike Trumpy TD run and two Budzien field goals.
Score: NU 41 – Illinois 14
Game Highlight: Ibraheim Campbell Pick-6
The Warriors are unanimous, picking the ‘Cats across the board. Huzzah!