It’s finally here. College football is officially back. I won’t bore you with any babble here. Here are the predictions for this week:
Game Summary: The ‘Cats have a lot to prove. Da Cal Bears want to bounce back after a 1-11 season. I don’t think either team wants to come out flat – or that either can afford to. However, I think with the way our season went last year, the off season turmoil, the injuries, and the transfer of Mark, the #B1GCats will come out strong. This team of back ups, underachieversand hard workers will come together to take home a W in front of their home crowd. I think the ‘Cats get out to a 17-7 halftime lead. After Cal scores to make it closer, the Cat’s comeback with a huge TD and a big stop. I think Siemian chucks 3 TDs, 1 pick and a good chunk of yards. The defense holds strong in this one and we pull the game out.
Emilio (basically) said it best, “…when everyone says it can’t be done, ‘Cats fly together.”
Score: NU 27, Cal 17
Game Highlight: NU has a drive to end the first half culminating in Siemian rifling a TD to Shuler (the former transfer from a non B1G school that now plays for a B1G school even though technically if he didn’t transfer he’d also be playing for a B1G school…) with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Player to Watch: Kyle Prater – This guy has a lot to prove, let’s see if he can start the season strong.
Tailgater to Watch: Pat Grayhack – Would hundreds of miles keep a man from partaking in his Saturday duty? We’ll see through various FaceTime requests, calls, and texts if he can bring the Purple from the land down under (Virginia). He’ll be there in spirit and we’ll have a few for the man.
College Playoff: Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State (Winner: Alabama)
Game Summary: Everyone seems to remember an easy victory over Cal last year, but having been at the game in-person, I can tell you it was nothing of the sort. Cal had a chance to tie the game late in the 4th, and our final margin of 44-30 was largely determined by two Colin Ellis pick sixes – a statistical anomaly. This year the score will be closer, and the Bears are looking for revenge.
We’re looking at some potential rain during the game tomorrow, which will hopefully throw a wrench in Cal’s pass-happy gameplan. I see the ‘Cats coming out sluggish, but working their way into rhythm by the second quarter. Fitz elects to go for it on several fourth and short situations in the red zone, instead of kicking field goals with inexperienced walk-on kicker and NU baseball player Jack Mitchell.
TrevDog starts picking the Cal D apart in the second half, but on the other side of the ball, the ‘Cats D line cannot get any pressure, allowing Jared Goff all day to throw. A few timely turnovers tilt the game in the ‘Cats favor in the fourth quarter, and a late fumble on a Cal drive seals it for the ‘Cats – 30-27.
Score: NU 30, Cal 27
Game Highlight: Trevor throws a strike to Kyle Prater for his first collegiate touchdown!
Player to Watch: Dan Vitale – With Christian Jones out, Vitale is going to be Trevor’s security blanket this year. He had a big game last year against Cal, and I’m expecting another big game from him on Saturday.
Tailgater to Watch: Sam “Fritz” Wotzka – Now a California native, will he cheer for his alma mater, or the team from his new home state? Will his shirt stay on for the whole game? Find out Saturday, in the West Lot.
College Playoff: Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State (Winner: Oregon)
Game Summary: Could this game be closer? Sure, but it’s not going to be. First and foremost, Cal is a bad football team and with the worst defense in a power conference and an offense that I’m not convinced will work against teams with above average speed on defense. On the other hand, Northwestern is above average on both sides of the ball and including a defense that is built on speed.
The game begins with a Northwestern onside kick recovered by future star Godwin Igwebuike. On the second play from scrimmage, an apparent screen pass is thrown to newcomer Miles Shuler, but all is not as it seems as Shuler drops back and delivers a strike to the open arms of Trevor Simeon, who uses his 4.38 speed to run into the endzone. With his first throw of the game, Jared Goff hits his favorite reciever from last year’s game, Colin Ellis, in the chest. He returns the ball to its home in the Northwestern end zone and the route is on. I will spare the Cal fans reading the gory details.
Score: NU 44, Cal 21
Game Highlight: Third string quarterback Matt Alviti escapes the Cal pass rush and sprints down the sideline, in an effort to spur on his troops Cal Coach Sonny Dykes chases after. Alviti is forced out at the two and Ryan Field goes wild. However, as the Cat’s line up for their push for the final two yards, an official blows his whistle for an apparent injury timeout. Forty yards down the field, Sonny Dykes lays on the ground clutching his knee and squirming in a manner that would make any soccer player jealous.
Player to Watch: Kyle Prater – It’s put up or shut up time for the kid.
Tailgater to Watch: Michael “ROWDY” Roche – In his first tailgate as an engaged man, scouts are predicting some truly wild stuff from this soon to be married man.
College Playoff: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State (Winner: No Pick)
Game Summary: Cats give up a TD on Cals initial drive due to a mental mistake in the secondary, but don’t allow another TD till it doesn’t matter anymore in the 4th quarter. The offense goes into high gear with some well timed passes from Siemian, but everyone (except McCall) soon realizes this is going to be a running type of game. Expect Fitz to shove our run game down Cals throats after he realizes the Bears can’t stop shit. With the rain falling over Ryan field the Cats demolish the Bears on the ground and score 3 TD (1 is a nice PA pass from the 5) intermixed with 3 FG attempts (1 missed).
Score: NU 27, Cal 14
Game Highlight: Kickoff returned by Buckley initially looks like it could be taken all the way but gets chased down at the Cal 15 – but wait! He breaks the tackle and scores a TD followed by a flag for excessive celebration. Fitz doesn’t know if he should be happy or pissed. (Ed. Note: Shuler is taking kicks; odds are Buckley doesn’t field a kickoff.)
Player to Watch: Treyvon Green – With Trey “Smoke That” Green taking over lead RB responsibilities and having a sick game at Cal last year (2 TD, 129 yards rushing including a 55 yarder), he will come out hard. Per the prediction above the run game is going to be huge tomorrow.
Tailgater to Watch: No pick.
College Playoff: Auburn, Florida State, Alabama, Michigan State (Winner: Auburn)
Game Summary: Jared Goff threw for 450 yards against the ‘Cats last year. While the secondary will be better, I still think we won’t get enough pressure to make him sweat all that much. He leads Cal down the field pretty easily within the first two drives for an early 7-0 lead. Our Friend Mick McCall had en entire offseason to design an offense around Trevor. I think this will work much better than him trying to run the damn option last year when Kain was hurt. The OL is pretty much intact, allowing for enough protection for Trev to hit high percentage passes to Miles Schuler and Kyle Prater all day. After falling behind 7-0 early, NU will score on back-to back drives late in the first half to take a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Treyvon Green will be ready to take the reins from Ricky Football. The strong protection from the OL will allow Treyvon to gain big on a draw play here and there, with his biggest gain coming on a 40+ yard TD late in the 3rd Quarter.
Trailing 21-7 early in the 4th quarter, Jared Goff will drive the Golden Bears for a quick score to pull within 7. We’ll all be sweating in the West Lot as the next NU drive stalls with way too much time left on the clock. Mr Goff will lead the Bears to the NU 20 yard line before surrendering a late TO for the ‘Cats to seal the deal.
Score: NU 21, Cal 14
Game Highlight: National Anthem before tailgating starts in the West Lot. First tailgate of the year. So much potential.
Player to Watch: Trevor “I ran a 4.38 40” Siemian. He’s had an entire offseason to work as QB1. Put up or shutup, my friend.
Tailgater to Watch: No pick.
College Playoff: UCLA, Florida State, Alabama, Michigan State (Winner: No Pick)
Game Summary: For those that don’t remember, Cal moved the ball at will against us last year. They even had a tremendous amount of success running the ball because of our need to put the entire team in coverage to stop their athletic receivers. Thankfully, Colin Ellis was there to save the day.
Our secondary is solid, but it doesn’t matter how good they are if the D Line gives Goff 10 seconds to throw. Pressuring Goff is going to be the key to this game.
I see Cal’s offense functioning similarly to what we saw against them last season. A lot of dink and dunk. Some success running the ball. Some boneheaded plays (read: personal fouls) that help us out. After all, Sonny Dykes is coaching this team.
On offense, I think we’ll have a fair amount of success, but I wouldn’t read too much into it beyond this game. We’ve had the entire offseason to prepare for this game, so I expect Mick to have a good game plan and I expect Trevor to avoid the out route for a pick six…. at least for now. The Cats will have a well balanced attack and Dan “Dick” Vitale will gain over 100 YAC from short passes designed to deal with pressure.
Ultimately, this will stay relatively close and we’ll be holding our breath due to a missed XP, but I think the Cats will get the W.
Score: NU 30, Cal 24
Game Highlight: Dan “Dick” Vitale catches a ball at the line of scrimmage, outraces the D Line and linebackers up the field and drags 2 Cal DB’s 15 yards for a TD.
Player to Watch: Miles Shuler – I have no idea if he’s any good, but he’s all over the depth chart and should see a ton of touches. Let’s hope he’s the real deal.
Tailgater to Watch: No pick.
College Playoff: UCLA, Florida State, Alabama, Oklahoma (Winner: Oklahoma)
Game Summary: Well, this one is gonna be a fun one, that’s for certain. The big question mark is can we pressure Jared Goff enough to limit the big plays? After re-watching Cal’s offensive highlights against us last year, there was one thing that was clear: we only gave up big run plays on read options when Goff hands the ball off. We looked completely baffled that they weren’t throwing the ball and had no idea what to do next. Given that we’ve had all off-season to prepare for this game, hopefully that won’t be the case this time around. Cal will inevitably get a lot of yards through the air; it’s hard not to when you throw the ball 60 times a game. However, if we can limit the big run plays we should be in for an easy victory.
Finishing drives will be key here for the ‘Cats. This game last season wouldn’t have been nearly as close if we hadn’t settled for a few field goals early on. I’m looking at you Mick. Cal’s offense is bad (real bad Michael Jackson) and we should have no trouble getting into the endzone. We’ve had all summer to prepare for this game, so we better have put together a solid game plan that revolves around our new offense’s strengths and Cal’s weaknesses (defense is their weakness).
All that said, I think NU puts up a lot of points. Cal will score a few as well, but that is because they have a competent offense and run a ton of plays. This shouldn’t reflect poorly on our defense, unless we give Goff all day to pick us apart. That could be a sign of bad things to come down the road.
Score: NU 44, Cal 21
Game Highlight: Trevor and Cam Dickerson link up for a 45-yard TD bomb. Cam yells “That’s a TD Daily” into the Camera in the end zone.
Player to Watch: Kyle Prater – I picked him 3 times (twice seriously) last year as the player to watch. Prove me right Kyle. Prove me right.
Tailgater to Watch: Blake “Blaine/Blair” Yocom – He’s clearly the favorite to win SnapChatter of the year. How will he fare in his campaign for tailgater of the year?
College Playoff: Michigan State, Florida State, Oregon, Texas A&M (Winner: Oregon)
TL;DR – Everyone thinks the ‘Cats will win, but not everyone is confident.
That’s all folks. Hopefully the ‘Cats can start off the season by going 1-0 this week. Go ‘Cats!