Northwestern faces off against a MAC foe for the second straight year. The ‘Cats are 6-0-1 all time against Northern Illinois, with the first contest in 1975 and the most recent in 2005. The lone tie occured in 1987, which ended 16-16 (what a score). Despite the string of dominance against the Huskies, as of late, the team from Dekalb is not one to be ignored. The Huskies posted an impressive 46-10 record from 2010-2014, with one of those loses coming to Florida State in the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. NIU has won 13 of its past 15 games, while on the other hand, the ‘Cats are 1-8 in their last 9 contests. There is no doubt that Northwestern will have its work cut out for it on Saturday. But enough background, on to the predictions!
Game Summary: This is going to be fun!!! There are some serious question marks around this program this week. Even one of the top 5 jackwagons on television, Keith Olbermann, is calling the Cats out. As an aside, what’s the deal with Olbermann? I love calling people out and mocking shit, but he takes it to a completely new level. He comes across as an angry, bitter individual who could never make it so he has resorted to ripping on people. To be fair, his criticisms are somewhat legitimate here.
Anyways, it’s time to put up or shut up (I’m talking to you, Fitz). We were ill prepared last week and completely lacked the energy necessary to compete with a team well equipped with athletes. This week’s team, NIU, probably doesn’t have the same caliber athlete at every position, but they are definitely well coached and know what they’re doing.
I think NIU’s tendency to run the ball will help the Cats here. Historically, we’ve fared better against run first teams simply because our long-tenured DB coach has made sure we can’t cover any team who passes first. Having said that, I’m not exactly convinced that our D line is going to be able to shut down a solid run game.
I see NIU pounding it on the ground and catching us off guard with the occasional play action pass. They’ll score on their first drive. We’ll stall on our first drive. At that point, some West Lotters might start putting the MildCats paper bags over their head. But, ultimately, I think we’ll find a bit of an offensive rhythm and actually win this game because we have better athletes.
I should point out, if Lynch was still playing at NIU I would take the Huskies by 3 scores in this one. But, he’s not. And their QB is essentially starting his first ever collegiate game because last week’s contest against Presbyterian hardly counts.
Score: NU 34 – NIU 20
Player Coach to Watch: Mickey McCall. This website is back up and running (I love that Enya soundtrack). Clearly we aren’t alone in our displeasure with Mick. Could this be the beginning of the end for him? Or will he actually adjust his calls to the other team’s defense and the personnel he has on the field?
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 NIU DB’s 15 yards for a TD.
I predicted the exact same thing last week. It didn’t happen. Maybe it will this week….
Game Summary: Welp, last week was a disaster. I’m really hoping that Cal team actually turns out to be halfway decent this year, as that would redeem the ‘Cats somewhat. I have a feeling that Fitz and the coaching staff have seen the flack they’ve received in the media this week, and will instill a greater sense of urgency in the team this week. The ‘Cats lacked passion and effort against Cal – that needs to change this week for the ‘Cats to even have a chance. Fitz and McCall need to have more guts and take risks instead of playing scaredy-cat-pansy football.
This NIU team is good, Jordan Lynch or no. I see them jumping out to a 7-0 lead, but the ‘Cats responding with a nice drive to tie the game. I expect a back and forth game throughout, with neither team being able to fully control the action. Fitz/McCall will (hopefully) pound the ball more with Treyvon Green and Justin “Janet” Jackson, setting up some play action for Trevor to go deep to Dickerson, Shuler and Vitale. Is Kyle Prater still alive?
Score: NU 30 – NIU 33
Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian – If he doesn’t have a better game than last week, we are screwed.
Tailgater to Watch: Trent Stafford – I will be breaking things if this prediction comes true and we lose.
Game Highlight: Chi Chi Ariguzo scoops up a fumble and takes it to the barn.
Game Summary: The fact that NU is a 7 point favorite (-115 even) is downright ridiculous after last week. I think you’re going to see more timid play calling by Mickey McCall and the gang as pointed out by Roger earlier this week which is going to bite us in the ass at the end of the game. I see Siemian throwing a pick this game while the receiving core steps up and improves upon those dropped passes from last week. Special teams is going to be big in this game as field position will play a crucial role in this low scoring bout. Expecting the game to be close throughout the game with a final drive allowing the cats to make the game winning FG.
Score: NU 24 – NIU 21
Player to Watch: The placekicking unit – If they can’t get their shit together after that piss poor performance last week it’s not going to be good. Let’s try and get the kickoff to land behind NIU’s 10 yard line shall we?
Tailgater to Watch: Paul Huettner – Continuing the theme of self nominations, I will be making Pulled Pork Parfaits as the specialty food item this week. Get excited!!
Game Highlight: Siemian 40 yard TD throw in the 2nd half. (Ed. Note: This is the vaguest and least imaginative game highlight ever.)
Game Summary: Lights, Camera, MACTION!!!! The husky fellows from Northern Illinois come to Evanston fresh off the two best seasons in school history. As a casual observer of their team, I have been impressed that a community college could maintain this level of excellence on the football field. Unfortunately, their running back, who occasionally threw, Jordan Lynch has graduated.
The Cats come out firing with a steady dose of runs and short passes, until a shocked Mick McCall realizes that his head set has been turned off and the plays are being called by a GA who is rolling a die and calling one of six plays that Coach Fitzgerald has deemed safe enough to call against this opponent. Although initially mad, McCall comes to appreciate the “square thingy with dots” and it’s ability to call just the play he was thinking of. With McCall neutralized, the Cats jump out to a nice 21 – 7 lead at the half. In the second half, a star is born. Justin Jackson moonwalks his way all over the field and into the endzone twice, relegating Treyvon Green to the role of slow older running back(formerly known as slow older white rb).
Score: NU 35 – NIU 24
Player to Watch: Kyle Prater – Is he on the field?
Tailgater to Watch: Roger Rankin – Hide your kids hide your wives, if the Cats lose Roger may explode.
Game Highlight: Northern Illinois QB throws the ball to an open Ibrahiem Campbell for a touchdown.
Game Summary: The ‘Cats probably aren’t very good – which is unfortunate to say/think. Fortunately, this game should provide more clarity toward that assertion. Let’s hope they prove us wrong and can win a game they should, on paper. I too hope that Cal proves to be better than people expected and that the Kitties can bounce back this week. NIU lost their best player-turned Chicago Bear-turned unemployed guy. That’s going to hurt them. They played the Sisters of the Poor last weekend, gained over 600 yards, and probably were blessed on the way. They won by 52 points, they are feeling good. However, their inexperienced QB and the fact that our D line and LBs are likely twice the size of their opponent last week (no offense, Sister), will slow them down and I think, provide some pressure.
The way I see it, the Dogs may play to prove something but I think the ‘Cats have more on the line. Despite Mick McCall being allowed in the building, and the fact I’m usually a dogs person over cats, I’m going with the home team squad. Don’t let me down. ‘Cats to start slow, but so will NIU. NU up 10-3 at half. Then the ‘Cats realize they play in the B1G and heat up in the second half, but allow a late TD when the game is all but over.
Score: NU 27 – NIU 13
Player(s) to Watch: ‘Cats Defense: Can they stop this team from the MAC and make sure we can claim being the best team in IL (which isn’t saying much)?
Game Highlight: A wasted NU student runs onto the field during the 3rd quarter, makes countless security guards and police officers miss, Fitz and McCall offer him a scholarship on the spot. Guy will be starting Sept 20 vs Western.
Game Summary: Tony Jones is out. The ‘Cats sputtering offense lost another key player for the week. A downfield threat is gone, meaning Mick McCall will likely play even more conservatively. Against a team that has been a recently prolific offensive squad. Yes, Jordan Lynch is gone, but that doesn’t mean the entire offense goes with it. Northern jumps out to a quick 10-0 lead after a 75 yard scramble on a broken play. In between the ‘Cats offense produces two Three and Outs. The ‘Cats manage a field goal as time expires in the first half to pull within a score, 10-3.
Pick-Six to start the half, and NU is quickly in the hole 17-3. But WAIT – NU scores in three (3!) consecutive drives to make it 24-17. NIU answers back with a quick score, and as time expires, they hit a field goal through the uprights to seal the win.
Honestly I have no idea how this is going to play out. I hope Mick has some fun, aggressive playcalling, but as a disgruntled fan who has watched every game of the 1-8 streak, I’m not convinced.
Score: NU 24 – NIU 27
Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian – Agree with Mr. Stafford (and I think he was my pick last week). Until he gets his act together he’ll be my player to watch every week.
Tailgater to Watch: Roger Rankin – Fireball will be flowing (especially if the ‘Cats lose)
Game Highlight: Probably Jim Cornelison singing the national anthem. Football wise? THE ‘CATS GO FOR IT ON 4TH AND SHORT FROM THE 50! I DON’T CARE IF THEY CONVERT THEY TRIED!
Game Summary: Guys, after last week (and really last season) I have no idea what to expect from this team anymore. Do we have the talent to beat NIU? Yes. Will we have a smart and well executed game plan that has the ability to change as the game dictates? All signs point to a resounding NO here. Will we beat Northern Illinois? Flip a coin for me. I wrote the intro to this article, so perhaps from the tone you can infer that I’m not exactly brimming with confidence. I think the only thing to do here is look to the experts for a prediction. My pick is courtesy of the Las Vegas bookmakers.
Score: NU 32.5 – NIU 25.5 (O/U of 58, Line of 7)
Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian – This dude had one of the worst games of his collegiate career last week. How will he respond?
Tailgater to Watch: Andrew Struckmeyer – Making a guest appearance from Nashville, how will he handle his first tailgate as a married man?
Game Highlight: Ifeadi Odenigbo drops his 3rd sack of the game, each of which was of a different quarterback.
Thats 5 for and 2 against. Honestly a little better than I would have guessed given last week’s performance. C’mon ‘Cats! How about a good ole W?!