Caturday is Here: Maryland Predictions

It’s finally here. Northwestern is actually playing football tonight. Our setup will look a little different today as the Warriors break a streak of nine straight years of tailgating in our namesake West Lot. Rose the Van is on life support, with her future very much in doubt as the sun rises this morning. We’re not sure she’ll survive the day.

But in life, as one chapter closes, another begins. It’s a new football year and there is reason to be optimistic about our ‘Cats on the field. Even if only for a few hours, we’ll relish each snap by the only Big Ten football team audacious enough to don purple. We’ll try to forget about the pandemic raging around us, and come together for a few hours to cheer on our ‘Cats.

Before we get into the picks, a quick statistical note. There are only TWO teams in the Big Ten against whom NU has a winning record historically. The first is Indiana – we lead the Hoosiers in the lifetime series 47-35. The second is Maryland, against whom we are 1-0 with a win in 2017. Let’s keep that record in the plus column today. On to the picks…

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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HACK

Game Summary: Mick McCall is gone, I repeat Mick McCall is gone and the Cats are back!
I have no clue what to expect from this Northwestern team on offense, but I think Coach Jake will overcome his groin injury to lead the boys to a big performance in the opener. It doesn’t hurt that Maryland has more holes than swiss cheese on defense. The Cat’s D will be good. Maryland is frisky but I think they’re undisciplined and loose with the football no matter who they are starting. There are rumors that Greg Newsome may be out, which could be trouble given the talent Maryland has at WR. I don’t think it’s going to be close folks.

Game Score: NU 42 – MD -21

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey 75 yard touchdown pass to tight end John Raine.

Player to Watch: The young WRs – We have some good veterans at the top of the depth chart (expect Riley Lees to be on the Patriots practice squad next year) but, Malik Washington, Genson Hooper Price, and Wayne Dennis Jr could provide much-needed splash plays.

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day, he’s got a new patio and he’s going to use it

Other Game to Watch: Nebraska – Ohio State – There can be only one punishment for treason, death by Justin Fields’s hands.

ROGER

Northwestern football is back.

I’ll definitely watch. How could I not? But, I have mixed emotions about this. The B1G did the right thing initially by postponing the season only to later capitulate to the pressure of the almighty dollar. Sadly, this already appears to be a dumb move. The University of Michigan has placed their students under a shelter-in-place order, but naturally this doesn’t apply to the football team. Absurd.

With the B1G’s marginally more restrictive COVID rules, I suspect there will be more than 1 team that fails to play all 8 scheduled games and I’ll go out on a limb and say at least one team will fail to play more than 4 games (note: if any player tests positive, he must sit out for 21 days).
So, here’s to hypocrisy and sidelining all reason for some entertainment on Saturday…..

Game Summary: Maryland is sneaky athletic. They have a 5 star wide receiver and a very highly recruited dual threat QB (NU wanted him). If you recall, this team annually peaks in Week 1 or 2 (multiple wins against Texas in recent years). I doubt they will have much trouble moving the ball against NU for the aforementioned reasons. The question will be whether NU’s offense can show some life to make the game interesting.
I’m cautiously optimistic we will see more of an offense this year… and hopefully a well balanced one. Given that, I think Ramsey and Co. will actually be particularly effective at slowing the game down and making this a close one.

I like the ‘Cats late in this one if for nothing else than their experience in those games and Ramsey’s poise and presence as a 5th year QB.

Game Score: NU 27 – MD – 25

Play of the Game: Peyton Ramsey 25 yard read option scamper for a score.

Player to Watch: The Offensive Line. Without Slater, this could be ugly. They have to be exponentially better for this team to be worth a damn. 

Warrior to Watch: Rusty. Sources say he turns 48 today.

Other Game to Watch: Nah. Not much interest elsewhere this season.

ZVON

I like the Cats but haven’t paid attention much this off-season because I thought there would be a season-off.

Game summary: idk – cats QB looks somewhat decent. Which would be a nice change since last season.

Game Score: Cats 27 Maryland 14

Player to Watch: Peyton Manning Ramsey

Warrior to Watch: Hack Attack

Other game to watch: I haven’t watched one down of CFB this season so no idea

PAUL

Game Score: Cats 32 – Terps 27

TRENT

For some godforsaken reason I’ve got a lot of confidence in the ‘Cats on Saturday. This is based on three factors:

  1. Fitz is the second-longest tenured coach in the Big Ten.
  2. We have one of the most experienced teams in the conference.
  3. Maryland missed a lot of practice this fall.

In such a weird, disruptive year, having a coach who’s familiar with his team, and players who are familiar with each other, seems pretty important. Granted, our most important player is a transfer from another school, and we’ve got a completely new offensive coordinator. 

The ‘Cats are favored by 11 (!!!) against Maryland on Saturday. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the ‘Cats, it’s that you never take them as a double digit favorite at home, especially against a conference opponent. But it’s a good thing that you can’t bet the ‘Cats in IL because I would be very tempted this week…

Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats new offense starts strong and runs all over Maryland in the first half. Transfer QB Taulia Tagavoiola (not going to try and spell it right) has a rough start with a pick six and a fumble as the ‘Cats D hangs strong. Bowser goes wild and Peyton Ramsey works in enough play action to be dangerous. 

In the second half, the Terrapins storm back and wear down our defense with an intermediate passing game. They crawl back within a score, but a long run by Drake Anderson seals it late. 

Game Score: NU 31 – MD – 17

Play of the Game: Pick six by captain JR Pace. 

Player to Watch: Peyton Ramsey. Gotta be in his first start for the ‘Cats. 

Warrior to Watch: Hack. It’s his Bday!

Other Game to Watch: Michigan – Minnesota. We’re rooting for the B1G East in every crossover game (aside from our own).

ANDY

To be completely honest, when I first heard that the B1G season was cancelled, I thought it was a prudent move. When they decided to return, initially I wasn’t that excited. But lo and behold it’s the Friday before Gameday and I’m freakin’ AMPED. LET’S GO ‘CATS!

Game Summary: I honestly have no clue how things will go here. Lots of uncertainty. My thoughts are that the offense will not be the worst in the country as it was last season, but it will not be light years ahead either. Realistically somewhere right in the meaty part of the bell curve. I hope that is the case, because last season watching our team required eye-gouging. I think Maryland will have some successes, and we’ll have some miscues, but at the end of the day, we make a few more plays than they do and pull out the W.

Game Score: NU 24 – MD – 21

Play of the Game: Isaiah Bowser 42 yard scamper and score.

Player to Watch: Ramsey. Can he deliver like he did at IU? If so, giddy up.

Warrior to Watch: Tempted to call my own number here, but I’m gonna have to say Grayhack. Seems like a no brainer.

Other Game to Watch: B1G games I guess? I don’t really care what’s happening elsewhere, tbqh.

DOC ROCHE

No contest due to COVID.

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