Prediction Friday – Western Illinois

This will be the scene in the West Lot before the game

This will be the scene in the West Lot before the game

In the words of Ollie Williams “It’s gon rain!” That wont stop the Warriors and hopefully it wont stop you from joining us. However, the question of the hour is will it stop the ‘Cats? Anything but a blowout win really doesn’t tell us anything new about a team who has has two weeks to ponder what went so horribly wrong to start the season. But a win is a win, and it would be nice to get one of those, eh? Without further ado, the picks:

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon

Trent:

Game Summary: The ‘Cats finally get a good start to the game for once, with Trevor leading the ‘Cats down the field through the air and tossing a TD pass to Dan Vitale. Trev is hobbled for this game, so I expect him to split time with Zack “Snax” Oliver. The ‘Cats are going to throw the ball a lot in this game – as based on my 4 minutes of research it seems as if the WIU Leathernecks have a solid run defense.

I see this being a fairly low scoring game, with the ‘Cats getting up by enough early to make this a comfortable victory. Been a while since we had one of those, eh?

Game Score: NU 24 – WIU – 10

Game Highlight: Zach “Snax” Oliver – Snax runs a QB sneak for the TD, pretends to eat a cheezborger as his celebration dance. (Ed. Note: Perhaps he’ll actually have one handy in his helmet)

Player to Watch: Zach “Snax” Oliver

Tailgater to Watch: This will be the first WLW tailgate I’ve missed since the famed Thanksgiving weekend 2012 demolition of the Illini, when I accompanied my parents to a performance of the “Book of Mormon” “Les Mis”. In my absence, the whole WLW crew are the tailgaters to watch as they live it up on Saturday, and are hopefully joined for some post-game snacks by Snax Oliver himself.

Roger:

Game Summary: As for our perception of the team, there is absolutely nothing productive that can come of this game. Either we win narrowly (in which case we all think we suck), we win by a lot (in which case we all still think we suck because we beat a team that went 4-8 in FCS last year) or we lose (in which case we all know we suck).

I have no confidence that our offense will get things going this week. The fact of the matter is our offensive line is a mess and we have a pocket passer with an offensive coordinator who refuses to call plays to maximize the talents of those he’s dealing with. We’re going to struggle to move the ball consistently…. even against an FCS team.

On the plus side, I think our defense will look solid. Given our athletic superiority here, I expect the Cats to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback and dominate the line defensively. I know that sounds absurd given that we have limited talent and no depth on the D line, but limited talent is relative here.

I think the game will play out in a rather predictable manner. Siemian will start at QB. He’ll get us a first quarter TD with the only methodical drive of the game. After that, Snax Oliver will get some playing time. We’ll quickly learn that he has a cannon for an arm but isn’t a great decision maker and isn’t terribly accurate. Siemian is the guy… like it or not.

We’ll hold a 14-6 lead at halftime. WIU will score to make it 14-13 in the middle of the third. Neither offense will do anything and midway through the 4th the Cats will block a punt deep in WIU territory. That will allow us to get up 21-13 and hold on.

Game Score: NU 21 – WIU – 13

Game Highlight: You can’t have a highlight when you beat an FCS team that went 4-8 in 2013 by one score. BUT, let’s go with a blocked punt deep in WIU’s territory. We sure as hell won’t return the punt so we might as well block it.

Player to Watch: Miles Shuler – I don’t want to hate on Miles Shuler here, but I’m going to hate on Miles Shuler here. There’s probably a reason Rutgers didn’t bat an eyelash when Shuler departed. He may be a freak athletically, but I’ve yet to see any indication that he is actually going to be remotely productive on the field. Hopefully that changes here.

As an aside, I think we can all agree that Miles Shuler isn’t even remotely as explosive as Ricky Football. This just goes to show you that speed in the traditional sense is overrated. I’m sure Shuler could outrun Ricky in a 100m race. But Ricky has the ability to go from 0-60 in no time and that makes him far more explosive on the football field. We aren’t running track on Saturdays… although maybe we should because we wouldn’t be any worse than we are at football.

Tailgater to Watch: Blake “Blaine” Yocom. Typically, Blaine gets to the lot a few hours before kickoff to make the most of the festivities. Kickoff is at 11am. Will Blaine show up at all? Word on the street is that Blaine hasn’t woken up before noon on a Saturday since the 8th grade.

Runner up: T-Bag. Sources tell me Bag will be in Madison standing in a wedding for one of his good friends from high school. He will not be at the game, but he will be dressed to impress. We all know how good T-Bag looks in a suit. We’re expecting pictures for next week’s posts!

Z-Von:

Game Summary: The amount of time that I’m putting into these predictions is directly related to how bad we are. The worse we are, the less time I put in. I think the ‘Cats will win because they are in the B1G compared to a team that is an FCS. If we win this week, I’ll put more time in next week because you know, we’d no longer have a ‘0’ in the W column. I still don’t think we are going to win as easily as we should because we haven’t shown any reason to have confidence.

Game Score: NU 24 – WIU – 14 (Ed. Note: ZVon listed us as beating NIU, not WIU)

Game Highlight: Trevor Siemian throws 2 TD passes. Not sure that should be a highlight but we will throw it in there.

Player to Watch: Kyle Prater – This is the second time I’ve nominated this guy as the PtW. He should be physically more gifted than any other receiver on the field and WIU should not have anyone that can guard him. This guy was supposed to be an absolute stud out of HS. Maybe this will remind him of how good he was then? Let’s call a TD grab and over 6 catches on the day for this Cat.

Tailgater to Watch:  Roger Rankin – The guy is only one fumble, interception, or inexplicable offensive play McCall away from blowing his fuse and bestowing a rage upon Northwestern that we’ve never seen. Combine that with old beer, some fireball, and a couple burnt hot dogs – and we may have a show on our hands. Win or lose, there will be some criticisms of our team – let’s just hope they come after a W.

Paul:

Game Summary: As they say ever broke clock is right at least twice a day. Luckily for Micky McCall, Saturday will be his day and everything will seem to go right for the Cats’ on offense due to a mediocre Western Illinois team. NU will be able to march down the field on the first drive and will score in each of the four quarters. The defense gives up a long TD run in the 2nd after a FG in the 1st and the Cats’ go into half-time up 17-10. At this point Fitz is shitting himself knowing that there’s a potential to blow this game and he’ll actually have to step up and fire some people to save his own head, but luckily for him – unluckily for our future offensive performance – the Cats’ lay on the scoring with a TD on their first drive and another in the 4th quarter (see game highlight) while WIU is held to a couple FGs. While the box score will read 31-16 anyone watching the game will know it was much closer than that.

Game Score: NU 31- WIU – 16

Game Highlight: Chi Chi Ariguzo, an Ohio native, will finally get his first pick of the season and run that baby back 60 yards for a Northwestern TOUCHDOWN. Also how about the NUSports website having a pronunciation guide next to players names that are hard to say?! You can even listen to an audio clip of it! (Ed. Note: Paul clearly went to NUSports.com to check how to spell Chi Chi Ariguzo)

Player to Watch: Trevor Siemian – Once again excessive turnovers are the only thing that can kill the Cats’ this week. After throwing 2 INTs and only 1 TD this season let’s hope he tilts that ratio in the opposite direction throwing 3 TDs this game.

Tailgater to Watch:  Matt Mrozek – Marty is making his first trip up to Evanston this year for a game. Although he is clearly not a die hard fan, he will be dressed to impress and won’t be able to reject offers for fireball shots which will be happening every 10 minutes. Around the 3rd quarter (and 20th fireball shot) he will get overly nostalgic and likely shed a few tears.

Hack:

Game Summary: The Cats are the worst, I fully expect them to lose to this squad.

Game Score: NU 0 – WIU – 21

Game Highlight: Mick McCall is fired mid game.

Player to Watch: None.

Tailgater to Watch:  Andy Day – Will the loss crush his soul or will fireball raise him to a new level of understanding?

Roche:

Game Summary: Gah. Do I really have an opinion on this game? Not really. But we have to do this exercise every week. The team is hurt. But they’re playing an FCS team, against whom they should (gulp) win. Will they? Probably. Will they switch up the game plan at all? NOPE! This will be a vanilla game. Boring plays and maybe a turnover or two.

Game Score: NU 28 – WIU – 10

Game Highlight: Someone has a pick-six.

Player to Watch: Whoever is at QB – Lots of questions at this position that won’t be answered in this game. Trev is the QB moving forward. But will he/Oliver have any more effectiveness?

Tailgater to Watch:  All of us – Drowning our sorrows in alcohol. And rain. STOP RAINING ON OUR SATURDAYS!!!

Day:

Game Summary: This is my last optimistic post of the season unless the ‘Cats give me reason to think otherwise. They’ve had 2 weeks off, the students are here (finally), and they are playing an FCS opponent. This team did play Wisconsin fairly close for a half, but the Badgers eventually broke it wide open. For the love of god, do your job (since you are employees) or otherwise the fans may have to go on strike.

If our O-Line can’t be dominant against this team we are screwed going into B1G play. That being said, Trev-Dog (or Snacks if Trevor isn’t healthy) should have plenty of time to sit back and pick this team apart. Will the receivers catch the ball? That’s a different question. Our defense should continue to play well, and should actually get some time to rest during the game so that they wont get gassed in the 4th quarter.

Didn’t I say i was going to be optimistic? Please refer to my game score.

Game Score: NU 44 – WIU – 6

Game Highlight: The final whistle blows without Northwestern doing anything too Northwestern.

Player to Watch: Stephen Buckley – How will the converted RB look at the WR spot? Hopefully this will work as well as Venric “WTF” Mark moving from WR to RB.

Tailgater to Watch:  Jeff Budzien – What’s he up to these days? I bet he’ll be out there somewhere in the West Lot enjoying some adult beverages.

Please god give us a W! Go ‘Cats.

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