Ariana Grande loves the ‘Cats against Minnesota this week, and so do the Warriors!
After everyone picked the ‘Cats last week (and they won), here are the season pick standings to-date.
Now that we’re all picking Northwestern for a second straight week, let’s see if the ‘Cats are able to keep the streak going, and purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
Game Summary: Both offenses sputter for the majority of the first half. It’s an old fashioned B1G #PUNTFEST. Late in the second quarter, Bigsby finds Dan Vitale for a touchdown to take the lead 7-3.
Much of the same in the second half. Minny’s offense is somehow worse than the B1GCats’s. A late JJ long run and a FG seal the deal and I take a nap.
Final Score: NU 17 – 6
Play of the game: Has to be a defensive play, right? ‘Cakes walker with a forced fumble and a recovery.
Player to watch: As Rog said last week – this slot belongs to Bigsby until further notice.
Warrior to Watch: Z-Von. It’s fall. It will be chilly. MAYBE HE’LL BE WEARING A SWEATER I DON’T KNOW. But I do know he’s a great hugger. As the temperature drops, the hugging heats up. GO GET ‘EM ZVON
Other game to watch: I want to say Penn State – Army. PSU will prolly smoke army though. So I’ll say Iowa-Wisconsin, for obvious B1G West-related reasons.
Remember all those Tom Brady – Peyton Manning duels over the years, when it would be 27-27 in the third quarter and Phil Simms would cackle on the mic and say “How ’bout this? It’s an ole fashioned Western shootout!” Well, this game will be the exact opposite. The ‘Cats and Gophers both play stifling defense, try to control the line of scrimmage and pound the ball on offense. And with a brisk, cloudy and windy fall day tomorrow, I’m not expecting much action through the air. The over/under on this one is hovering around 40 – I’d say take the under. This is probably going to be an ugly game, but that’s B1G football for ya. Embrace the ugly!
Game Summary: I see the ‘Cats getting out to a quick start in this one, as they get the ball on offense first, and have some success running JJ off tackle. But the first drive stalls in the red zone, Jack Mitchell misses a chip shot into the breeze, and the fun begins. This becomes a field position game, with each punter getting almost as work as the Bears punter got last week. A shanked punt by Minnesota gives us great field position towards the end of the second quarter, and Bigsby Thorson cashes in with a play action touchdown to Mike McHugh (I’m not sure his name has been mentioned on this blog so far this year. Hiya Mike!). ‘Cats go into the half at 7-0.
The third and fourth quarters play out much the same way – Minnesota manages a field goal, but our D plays awesome throughout and shut down the fairly one-dimensional Minny offense. Cakes Walker has a day with more than 10 tackles. Down 7-3, the Gophers get the ball back and begin a drive down the field, but Godwin Igwebuike steps in front of a Mitch Leidner pass, and takes it back to the barn. No, not The Barn. The ‘Cats embrace the ugly and win, 14-3.
Game Score: NU14 – 3
Play of the Game: Igwebuike with a pick six.
Player to Watch: Hunter Niswander, our punter.
Warrior to Watch: ZVon, our resident Minnesotan. Actually it’s all of us, as this will be a chilly day and the Fireball will be flowing like wine.
Other Game to Watch: Toledo at Ball State. This line opened at -9 for Toledo, who has beaten two Power 5 teams to-date and is getting votes in the polls. However, bettors seem to putting $$ down on the Cardinals, since the line is now down to 6.5. This will help us figure out – did we really look that bad last week, or is Ball State actually kinda good?
People often ask me: Are you torn when your ‘Cats play the Minnesota Golden Gophers?! “Uffda!“, I say. I went to NU – I’m a ‘Cats fan all the way. No love for the Gophers, it’s just how it is. I’m not going around yelling SKI U MAH! with all those Gophs, no way! The team from up nort der isn’t even my second favorite in the B1G – so let’s put that to bed. It’s going to be a nice warm day, so we could probably wear cutoffs and shorts. Great day for football.
Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats and the Minnetonka Gophers are going to play some Duck Duck Gray Duck for most of this game. They’ll do more of the running in circles part and less of the catching the gray duck (read: lotta punts, FG attempts, few actual scoring drives). There will be more punts than layers in a tater tot hot dish. Good news is, I think the ‘Cats play this game better than the Gophs. I see JJ gaining over 100 yards, Thorson throwing one play action pass TD and at the end of the day, the ‘Cats are partying like they’re at Camp Snoopy. Minnesota’s Leidner has a couple nice runs and a TD, keeping it close all along. The late game hold against Ball State helps the ‘Cats sustain in this game, and we get out of there.
Game Score:OH yahhhh, you betcha! NU 17, Minnesota 10
Play of the Game: Defensive stop on 4th and short late in the fourth to secure the W. Holy Buckets!
Player to Watch: Thorson – do something big, kid! Get all of us onboard (your boat, that is).
Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin – how many times does he call for Snax Oliver to play when the ‘Cats barely move the ball the whole third quarter? I also like nominating all the Warriors – we’ll be drinking lotsa pop and maybe some MN beers, Premium Grain Belts or Summits.
Other Game to Watch: Iowa – Wisco: This pits a couple solid West contenders against eachother – let’s see if Iowa is for real as Wisconsin seems to perennially be good.
Game Summary: This game is going to be one of the more boring games of football in recent memory (Think back to last years Michigan Northwestern sleeper and that’s the level of bad offense that we’re looking at people). This game will come down to defense and the running game and Northwestern is better at both of those areas, so I think the Cats will win.
Game Score: NU 17 – 7
Play of the Game: Dean Lowry deflects a pass into the hands of Anthony Walker, who returns the ball to the Minnesota 23 yard line.
Player to Watch: Justin Jackson – How many times will he touch the ball?
Warrior to Watch: Trent “Greg” Bag – Something tells me ole bag will be showing the kids how to Nae Nae, if you catch my drift…
Other Game(s) to Watch: Notre Dame at Clemson: In this battle of a team that should be a top ten team and one that is but should not be, the questions is this: how many tears will ND fans cry when they lose by twenty?
Game Summary: I think we’re all on the same page here. This isn’t going to be an offensive beauty. It will likely take a play or two like this from the ‘Cats to get out with a W. But at the end of the day, I do think the ‘Cats will make one or two more plays than the Gophers and come out on top. Clayton looks slightly improved (2 TD, 1 TO) and sends the ‘Cats to the locker room up at half. A Minny TD late makes things interesting, but NU holds on and moves to 5-0.
Game Score: NU 20 – 17
Play of the Game: A backwards pass screen to Christian Jones who then fires a bomb to Vitale who is wide open for a TD. I dare you Mick.
Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – because, duh.
Warrior to Watch: Trent. Enough said.
Other Game to Watch: Arizona @ Stanford – why, do you ask? I’ll be there – so look for me on TV rooting for the Cardinal to continue making us look good.
On paper, this game has the potential to be absolutely pathetically putrid, miserable, disgraceful, and horrific…. if you don’t care about either team. But guess what? We care about the ‘Cats. We care about them a lot. So we’ll take M00N 2.0 as long as the ‘Cats win. And we’ll revel in it.
All that said, I am cautiously optimistic that we aren’t going to see M00N 2.0…. at least not from NU. Hopefully we see M040N (closely resembling MORON… so that’s fun). Each team has some injuries, but I don’t really expect that to be a factor. I think a bigger factor in this game may be the conditions and how that impacts field position. It’s supposed to be windy in E-Towntomorrow, so let’s hope Niswander and Mitchell are on point. We’ll be on point in the West Lot, so they least we can ask is for our specialists to be on point on the field.
Game Summary: Barring any early special teams fun, this one should be pretty vanilla through the first quarter as each team keeps it somewhat close to the vest. The key here will be what goes on in the trenches. Can NU’s D line “win at the point of attack” (one of our favorite Fitzisms) and can our O line stand their ground and open up the occasional hole? I think so….. and that’s why I think this is going to happen:
Minnesota will take the lead 3-0 with a field goal as each team is feeling the other one up…. I mean out. As we get later in the first quarter though, we start to see NU exercising some control over both lines. This spells disaster for Minnesota’s offense while it simultaneously causes Minnesota’s defense to stack the box even more than they had been.
Please note the bold f*cking prediction here – this is where A-Bay-Day’s favorite, Mick McCall, is going to earn his salary and call one of the better games of his tenure. As the box is stacked, he’s going to get F*cksaw going with some rhythm passes. The offense is going to start to hum and look like this. This is where it will get fun because we’re going to score and the defense is going to absolutely tee off as Mitch is forced to pass.
The game will stay close through the half, but the ‘Cats will be dominating the eye test. We’ll take care of business in the 2nd half setting up a trip to Ann Arbor with a lot on the line. We’ve been there before.
Look for 3 turnovers by the Gophers. 2 picks and a fumble on a sack….. similar to lunch in a sack (nom nom nom).
Game Score: NU 27 -10
Play of the Game: Godwin with an Odell Beckham-like pick on the sideline.
Player to Watch: With the obligatory hold on this spot for Thorson, we’ll also throw Mick McCall into the mix. No, he’s not a player, but he can certainly have a big impact on this game.
Warrior to Watch: Z Von…. we haven’t seen one-eyed Z Von in a few weeks, but something suggests we may here. We’re playing Tonka (his home state) and fall will be in the air. Look for some debauchery circa 2012 West Lot in this one. Listen for the vuvuzela.
Other Game(s) to Watch: We’re going with 2 games here. Duke vs. BC and Texas Tech vs. Baylor. For our non-gamblers out there, I have to point out some history that will be taking place this weekend. The Over-Under (O/U) in the Baylor game reached 90.5 yesterday…. the highest we’ve seen in 25 years. The O/U in the Duke game is 36.5. Yes, for you mathematicians out there, we have a 54 point discrepancy in O/U’s between the high and low games this weekend. I challenge you to find a bigger range….ever.
Game Summary: Cats D comes up big again. Only allowing 2 FG in the first half and shutting down the offense in the second. NU relies on the run game all game.
Game Score: NU 17 – 6
Play of the Game: Warren Long 45yd touchdown run
Player to Watch: Minnys QB. If we can keep him from making big plays this is ours.
Warrior to Watch: Trent. He’s gonna get weird this week.
Other Game to Watch: Iowa v Wisconsin. Iowa topples the Badgers at home to push them into the rankings. Now all NU has to do is beat Michigan and GameDay comes to Evanston again.