After an unexpected and exciting start to the season, the Wildcats had found themselves in the top 15 of the AP poll and in discussions as a dark horse for the College Football Playoff. The Wildcat faithful were riding high, the B1G West was looking soft, and we we’re thinking surely this could be a special season.
Then we played football (sort of) on Saturday. We had all of our flaws exposed, and many of our dreams were dashed. And while it was only one game, and there still is plenty of opportunity to bounce back and “accomplish our goals” as Fitz loves to say, I find myself thinking “here we go again.”
But what is it about Week 6 that seems to take the wind our of sails? In seasons past it has made us go from dreams of Big Ten Titles to big time empty bowl stadiums somewhere in Texas. It’s taken us from hopes of rebuilding to hopes of the season being over. Since 2008, Northwestern is 1-7 in its sixth game of the season. The lone win comes in 2009, against an abysmal Miami (OH) team which finished 1-11 (and the ‘Cats squeaked out a sloppy 16-6 win).
Let’s take a look at some of the heartbreaks that have come after a loss in Week 6:
2008 – NU Loses to #23 Michigan State 37-20
While this wasn’t totally unexpected or devastating, our shot at a Big Ten Championship essentially vanished. Believe it or not, had the ‘Cats won that game (and managed to not lose to an awful Indiana team) NU would have tied for a share of the B1G title.
2010 – NU Loses to Purdue 20-17
This one really stung. Northwestern was 5-0, riding high after a huge 29-28 win at Minnesota the week before. Aspirations of a B1G Title were beginning to brew and a win over Purdue seemed almost assured (Purdue went 4-8 that season). Instead, the Wildcats looked terrible and missed a last second field goal which could have sent this one to overtime. Makes you wonder what could have happened that year if we pull this one out (and Persa doesn’t get hurt against Iowa).
2012 – NU loses at Penn State 39-28
Yet again, the Wildcats remained undefeated after 5 weeks. We headed to Happy Valley with a chance to prove we were for real and came up short. NU blew a 28-17 4th quarter lead by allowing 22 unanswered by the Nittany Lions, and yet again hearts were crushed.
2013 – NU loses to Wisconsin 35-6
A week after what appeared to be the biggest game in recent memory, the Wildcats headed to Wisconsin with hopes to bounce back and continue its quest for a Rose Bowl birth. Instead, NU got completely waxed by a good Wisconsin team and this loss set the tone for the rest of the season (NU finished 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2007).
2014 – NU loses to Minnesota 24-17
The start of the 2014 season was a fairly disastrous one, and after loses to Cal and Northern Illinois most people had written this team off. However, the ‘Cats came back and won back-to-back B1G games against Penn State and Wisconsin and people started thinking maybe this team had done some serious growing up in the past few weeks. However, a kickoff return right after NU tied the game at 17-17 in the fourth quarter cost the ‘Cats, and broke our hearts yet again.
2015 – NU loses to Michigan 38-0
You guys all know what happened here, so I wont rehash it.
Long story short – it looks like its time to start bringing back a Miami (OH) for Week 6. Let’s at least let our dreams remain intact going into the second half of the season. But enough about Week 6 – let’s beat Iowa next week, and hopefully start to bring back hope of a B1G West Title.