Prediction Friday(?) – Minnetonka

Can Justin Jackson continue to impress this week?

Can Justin Jackson continue to impress this week?

What a wild ride we’ve been on so far. I’ve gone from thinking we are the worst team in the #B1G to thinking we just might win the #B1G West. This Minnesota team is no joke, but if we can put this one away, we’re looking like contenders. How will NU’s work-in-progress offense fare against a stout Minnesota defense? Only time will tell. But without further ado, the predictions.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon

Trent:

Game Summary: Well somehow here we are, sitting at 2-0 on top of the B1G West with a chance to further distance ourselves from the field. On the docket is a Minnesota team that has a better overall record than us, but doesn’t have as many quality wins. They are a run-first, grind-it-out team, much like the Badgers we faced last week. On paper this again looks like a good match-up. Our strength (run defense) is matched up against their strength (run offense), and I expect us to once again stack the box on D and dare them to throw. Even though this gameplan worked last Saturday and we put up a W against Wisconsin, people tend to forget that we had four crucial picks that essentially swung the game – two of which were intercepted in the Badger end zone and took points off the board.

This week I certainly don’t think we’re going to have four picks, but again I do think if we win the turnover battle then we will win this game. ‘Sota is going to utilize a lot of play action pass over the middle to their big TEs – a tough matchup for our linebackers/secondary. I think it’s going to be key to shut the Gophers down on first and second down, forcing them to throw it on third and long and getting them out of their comfort zone. I also think it’s key that we score first and jump out to a lead in this one – just like we did against Wisco. Minnesota isn’t built to come from behind, and if we can force them to throw more than they’d like, that will certainly work in our favor.

Unfortunately I see us getting off to a bad start in this one. Minnesota gashes our run D on the first drive for five yards a pop up the middle, before a red zone pass from Mitch Leidner puts the Gophers up 7-0. Then NU stalls out and punt the ball back to Minnesota, then they punt it back to us and so on and so forth in a game of pigskin ping-pong. Midway through the second quarter, Anthony Walker knocks the ball away from David Cobb, and Chi Chi Ariguzo scoops it up and scores to tie the game and breathe some life into the Northwestern sideline. Trevor settles down and starts to complete some passes, while our D continues to stall out the Gophers. We take a 10-7 lead into the half after a Jack Mitchell chip shot.

The second half is more of the same as we turn this into a field position battle with a lot of punts. I don’t think this will be a visually appealing game, but the Warriors will be watching every second intently. The NU offense never quite gets going in the second half and Minnesota scores a late FG to tie it at 10 and take us to OT. The Gophers make a FG to start, and Jack Mitchell hits the upright from 35 yards as we lose 13-10.

Game Score: Minnesota 13 – NU 10 (OT)

Game Highlight: Chi Chi scoops up a fumble and returns it for a TD

Player to Watch: Nick VanHoose – Nick’s going to have a tough task, covering receivers in one on one coverage all day. His play in this game could decide this one.

Tailgater to Watch:Z-Von – He will again be in attendance for this away game. Let’s hope he helps keep our win streak alive.

Roger:

Game Summary: Well, well, well…. Nobody saw this coming several weeks ago. A battle for supremacy in the B1G West. Between Minnetonka and the ‘Cats.

Things have been going swimmingly for the ‘Cats the past two weeks. Our defense has been stout, we’ve been forcing turnovers and we’re starting to see some young players emerge. The only piece we’re really missing is the offensive output that we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Well, great news ‘Cats fans. I think we’re about to see that tomorrow.

I should point out, I have high expectations for the ‘Cats offense to finally put a complete game together. I mean.. they have to at some point, right? But, I’m also not convinced by a team who has its wins against Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee State, San Jose State and Michigan. I’ve spent the entire week trying to find a team with a collection of 4 wins in college football right now that are cumulatively worse than that and I just can’t find one. Until they prove otherwise, this is your dad’s Minnetonka.

‘Cats jump out to an early lead in this one by taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field for a score (remember, we have tremendous success with scripted drives). I think we’ll see a fairly predictable offensive game plan from the Minnetonka Golfers. They just flat out can’t throw the ball with any consistency. So, they’ll pound it or really risk turnovers (word from the wise: don’t throw remotely close to Godwin’s area of the field). Well, guess what? This isn’t Wisconsin’s offensive line, so they aren’t going to have nearly as much success pounding the ball. They’ll get yards here and there, but the ‘Cats will be able to force them into third and longs all day.

Ultimately, I see this score ballooning a bit because the Golfers will consistently be put in situations that are not conducive to their strengths (i.e. having to pass the ball). This will lead to poor field position and a short field for Trev Dog and the offense. I expect to see similar production out of Justin Jackson to what we saw last week and an absolutely HUGE day from Dan “Dick” Vitale and the Superbacks (sounds like a band, doesn’t it?).

Anyways, ‘Cats roll and everyone starts looking for a hotel in Indy (albeit prematurely).

Game Score: NU 37 – Minnesota 17

Game Highlight: Miles Shuler gets open deep (and actually catches it this time) with a double move on whoever the hell replaces Derrick Wells. 40 yards in the air… another 25 after the catch. 65 yard TD for Miles.

Player to Watch: Trev Dog Siemian – Obviously he has to perform at a high level for this prediction to come true. I think he will. But, don’t get your hopes up moving forward. He’s just not that consistent.

Tailgater to Watch:Z-Von – This really isn’t a contest this week. There’s only one person actually making the trip to Minnetonka and going to the game, so….. why the hell would we pick him? Let’s go with Dr. Roche. Dr. Roche will not even be watching the game. In fact, he’ll be apple picking in Wisconsin with his fiancee (isn’t that cute?). Will Dr. Roche start throwing apples at unsuspecting pickers if things go south for the ‘Cats? Who knows? But we’ll certainly post pictures next week!

Grayhack:

Game Summary: Well, the Cats are slightly better than I thought and I really like the new super aggressive Fitz. Unfortunately, Mick McCall still is our offensive coordinator and Trevor “One Leg” Simeon is still our quarterback. As a result our offense still sucks, however Minnesota lacks a quarterback, so we’re in for a doozy of a offensive game. Minnesota sells beer in their stadium, so I assume no one will actually watch the game, hence I shall not summarize.

Game Score: Minnesota 17 – NU 14

Game Highlight: None.

Player to Watch: Xavier Washington – Next freshman up.

Tailgater to Watch:Z-Von – Once again this man of a man heads into the jungle, will he emerge with the scalp of yet another squad or will the jungle swallow him whole?

Z-Von:

Game Summary: 

If you told me a few years ago that the ‘Cats and the Gophs would be meeting under these circumstances, I would have known it would be taking place early in the season but I still likely wouldn’t have believed you. If you had said this after the first two games of the season, I would still be in shock. But all those counter-factuals are irrelevant now. The ‘Cats and Gophers meet above the B1G West with a chance to position themselves well.

The ‘Cats are coming off the two most improbable and impressive wins out of any team in the B1G. The Gophers have had a relatively easy schedule except for a 30-7 drubbing by TCU, who is a solid squad.

We all know the strengths here: The ‘Cats have an ever improving defense that bends but doesn’t break and seemingly highlights a newcomer every week. The Gophers like to run the ball and they can’t pass very well. If they win at the point of attack, NU loses. If our defense forces the pass, we win.

I think NU has won two games in a row because they believed they could win and many didn’t. Most people are picking the Gophers this week and frankly, I am certain Wisconsin is better than them. I think the ‘Cats win this one with steady offense, suffocating defense, and an all around will to win.

Game Score: NU 24 – Wisconsin 14

Game Highlight: On the Gophers’ second drive, Godwin “Iggy Azalea” Igwebuike picks of Leidner and almost brings it to the house. Trevor rifles one on the next play, touchdown Wildcats!

Player to Watch: None.

Tailgater to Watch:All Gophers fans – Did you know they don’t allow kegs at their tailgates? #NotChill

Roche:

Game Summary: Minneapolis will be buzzing with the battle for the B1G West. This game will be a battle of the defenses, as both offenses have shown inconsistency at best. I tend to agree with Roger – Minnesota is still unproven. The one good team they played (TCU) rolled them to the tune of 31-7. They run the ball a bunch. Are they a ‘good’ running team? Eh, maybe just by comparison to their passing game. InsideNU has a pretty good statistical breakdown of Minnesota. Does that mean the ‘Cats are going to win? Ehhhhhhhhhh……..

While the ‘Cats get on the board early with a Justin Jackson-led drive to go up 7-0, the offense stalls for the rest of the first half. Trevor looks out of sync on the road and can’t quite connect to any of his receivers. Without a pass game to rely on, Justin Jackson and the rest of the run game stalls. The defense holds the Gophers without a TD for the first half. They keep David Cobb from getting too many big plays and lolz Mitch Leidner passing. But three field goals allow Minny to head to the locker room with a 9-7 lead.

The ‘Cats storm out of the half with a big score from Trevor to Kyle “He was a five-star recruit?” Prater. That, however will be the last time they will score. The Gophers run game gains traction and wears down the Northwestern defense (and the clock). After a score late in the third quarter, the Gophers eat the clock for most of the fourth. A late fourth down conversion seals the deal.

Game Score: Minnesota 16 – NU 14

Game Highlight: Trevor to Kyle Prater long passing TD to open the second half.

Player to Watch: Godwin Igwebuike – He starts again for the injured Ibhraheim Cambpell. He won’t have three INTs, but how much will his play drop off from the amazing start last week?

Tailgater to Watch:Thanks for the shoutout Rog! I will be apple picking with Britt. It’s going to be delightful. We’re going to make so many apple baked goods with apples over the next month or two. I think McIntosh are my favorite. Fetz likes Honeycrisp. There’ll be plenty of both on Saturday. And maybe apple cider donuts!! But I’ll be sure to catch the game in Powers Lake, WI. Priorities.

I like Paul Huettner for TTW. Rumor has it he’ll be in Ohio for his sister’s wedding. Paul will be ready to celebrate the day. Win or lose, there will be an open bar at the reception. Go get ’em, Paul!!

Paul:

Game Summary: Two opposing game plans are going to be clashing tomorrow. The gophers will continue to run the ball while NU will look to focus on the passing game. The turnover battle will be crucial for the cats to pull out their fourth win in a row at Minny. Jackson will make a few great plays on a couple conservative third and long draw plays but siemian will not be so hot this week throwing a pick in the late first half. The cats will be down 13-10 going into half time. Luckily a pick from chi chi will give the cats great field position for a early 2nd half touchdown. Cats will give up a 7 point lead in the last minutes of the game on a blown run play forcing a 20-20 OT. Cats and the gophers trade field goals but NU tacks on a vitale TD on their second possession and the gophers can’t manage to punch it in from the 25 after a huge 2 play goal line stand by NU. Cats win.

Game Score: NU 30 – Minnesota 23 (OT)

Game Highlight: None.

Player to Watch: NU D line is going to be crucial if we want to stop the run game better than we did last week against Wisconsin. We won’t be getting 2 crucial interceptions in the red zone this week.

Tailgater to Watch:ZVon – He gets another nomination here as he makes the trek to the twin cities to continue his streak of not missing a game. The good luck charm will not let us down.

Andy:

Game Summary: ‘Cats win.

Game Score: NU 21 – Minnesota 13

Game Highlight: Tony Jones 60 yard TD reception.

Player to Watch: TrevDog – Need a big day from him.

Tailgater to Watch:ZVon

That’s all folks. Go ‘Cats!

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