Prediction Friday: Ireland Edition

The ‘Cats are kicking off the college football season…in Ireland! West coast warrior Andy Day has made the trip to Dublin to watch the ‘Cats take on the Huskers. After a down season last year, what are the Warriors expecting in 2022? Let’s get to the picks…

ANDY O’DAY

Oh boy. College Football is upon us. By the time you’re reading this I’ll have already had a pint of Guinness in Dublin (or maybe more than one – I’m on vacation!). It’s hard to be optimistic after last season, but I somehow find myself holding out hope that this team is going to surprise everyone (myself included). Will we? Probably not. But, everything about this game is strange – it’s occurring in Week 0… it’s occurring in Dublin, Ireland… it’s occurring against a team that demolished us last season and yet had the same record as us… to name a few. If the ‘Cats are going to surprise us this season, this sure feels like an opportune game to start.

Game Summary: I think the game starts slowly – Nebraska is adjusting to a lot of new players and coordinators and will struggle offensively out of the gate. The ‘Cats offense will feature a handful of 3 and outs (I will likely be chanting “RUN, RUN, PASS, PUNT” from the stands). I think the score is something like 7-3 at half (I don’t really care to venture a guess at who is winning). I think the ‘Cats defense (hopefully) finds its groove in the second half with a crucial takeaway or two, and the offense breaks off a few long runs for a scoring drive of some kind. It’s close the whole way and Nebraska has the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win but falls short (yet again).

Game Score: ‘Cats 13 – Nebraska 10 (Grab your ‘Cats +400 ticket now!)

Play of the Game: A monster punt from Luke Akers to flip the field.

Player to Watch: Our Starting QB (whomever that may be). Feels like this will be the position to watch until further notice.

Warrior to Watch: I’m afraid I have to call my own number here. I’ll be in attendance. I’ll be posting updates on the Warriors social accounts so make sure and follow along in the fun!

Other Game to Watch: Chicago Sky vs Connecticut Sun in Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals on Sunday.

TRENT

Week zero is upon us, and what a perfect moniker for a Northwestern – Nebraska game. I don’t understand why week zero exists – it seems to never have any games worth watching with any sort of marquee teams – but it does give the ‘Cats to get top billing in a nationally televised game right off the bat. Whether impartial viewers turning in will subsequently turned off to watching any more college football because of the B1G West slog fest is to be determined on Saturday.

You can’t mention this game without talking about the fact that it is set in Ireland. Why? No idea. Pat Fitzgerald has some Irish heritage, but other than that I can think of no rational explanation as to why these teams are playing across the pond. It makes no sense…but that’s college football.

The ‘Cats got absolutely drubbed by the Huskers last year, an atypical blowout in this matchup. Northwestern has given Nebraska problems ever since our friends in red entered the Big Ten, expecting to be among the top dogs but instead simply serving as another piece of the (for now-ish) Midwest trash heap looking up at The Ohio State University.

Nebraska went 3-9 last year, and was for some reason lauded by sports pundits as one of the best 3 win teams of all time. Blasphemy. This is a team that found ways to lose games time and time again, except for when they were boat-racing the ‘Cats by 49. Longtime Husker QB Adrian Martinez transferred out of the program, and is replaced by a transfer QB from Texas. Scott Frost is on the hottest of hot seats, and needs a big season in order to retain his job.

I expect this game to be close, and low scoring. Both teams are going to be rusty coming in with new pieces on offense, not to mention a seven hour flight across the pond and a drastic time difference (though both these teams are very familiar with playing around 11am CT). The ‘Cats have had a tendency to surprise teams in the first game, and Fitz has no doubt been showing plenty of tape from last year’s drubbing to fire up the troops. Say what you want about Fitz as an X’s and O’s coach, but he is a great motivator. Sitting as a 13 point underdog, with no one expecting Northwestern to have a chance…these are the moments we shine. And I use shine in a very relative way, because Nebraska is not a good team, and we won’t need some perfect effort to beat them.

We will need a better effort than we put up in pretty much every game last year – where we struggled to move the ball whatsoever and gave up massive chunks of yardage on defense. Our defense has to be better than it was last year…otherwise our new D coordinator will be short-lived. Ryan Hilinski appears to have been named the starter at QB, and my excitement level has since dropped from a 6 to a 2.5. Hilinski looked atrocious last year, not helped by the fact we had essentially no playmakers at WR. With Stephon Robinson now gone, we’ll have even less talent in 2022. I expect a lot of check downs to our RBs, who are going to have to carry the offense both on the ground and through the air.

Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats come out with a nice scripted drive and put points on the board early, shocking everyone wearing purple. Nebraska then rebounds and takes a lead at halftime, as Northwestern’s offense struggles mightily. I see the D coming up big in the fourth quarter, getting a late turnover and putting the ‘Cats in great field position. The ‘Cats ground game wears down Nebraska late, and Evan Hull punches in a TD to give the ‘Cats an unexpected victory. Yes, I like the ‘Cats to cover easily, and win the game outright (+400 on the moneyline is too high). 

Game Score: Northwestern 23 – Nebraska 21

Play of the Game: Cam Mitchell picks off a pass from Casey Thompson in the fourth quarter, setting up the ‘Cats for a late score.

Player to Watch: Cam Porter. Is he healthy??

Warrior to Watch: No question here. Andy Day is making the trip over to Ireland and will be there in-person. Will the ‘Cats make his trip worth it? Will he get a roof over his head, and a Guinness in his belly?

Other Game to Watch: Week zero means a bunch of crap. It’s saying something when the ‘Cats are top billing on a college football Saturday. I’m going to go with Vanderbilt @ Hawaii in the late game. Hawaii seems to always play in this spot, and I’ve watched more of their games than I care to admit. They always seem to cover as well. The Rainbow Warriors are a 7 point dog against a truly terrible Vanderbilt team, and I like Hawaii to pull it out after midnight on the east coast.

ROGER

‘ve been following the ‘Cats fairly religiously since I was 8 years old. September 2, 1995 to be exact. But, I have to admit that I have never been more apathetic heading into a season. I suppose that could change if the ‘Cats storm out of the gates and start 5-0, but I’m really not sure at this point that it will. 

This has little to nothing to do with the ‘Cats and damn near everything to do with the game of college football. It’s just not particularly appealing to me anymore. Some of that could be the narrowing of relevant games thanks to the College Football Playoff. It could be the complete lack of authenticity that has enveloped the sport the past decade. It could be the NIL implications. I don’t really know the exact cause. But, for the first time ever I’m more excited about the upcoming NFL season than I am the impending college football season. 

So, with that, here’s my prediction for a game that is both irrelevant and the definition of the lack of authenticity (there are probably some NIL implications too… see Decoldest Crawford).

Game Summary: It’s the first game of the season in a foreign country. This has all the makings of ugly football… particularly in the first half. I think the ‘Cats will keep it respectable for the majority of the first half. Nebraska will get up 14-0 thanks to some terrible front 7 play from the ‘Cats, but we’ll manage to get a touchdown back late in the first quarter to feign competitiveness. Nebraska will punch one in right at the end of the half to make it 21 – 7.

The second half will be a glorified practice with Nebraska getting up 35 – 10 before the end of the 3rd quarter and then the 4th quarter will be irrelevant.

Game Score: Nebraska 38 – ‘Cats 17

Play of the Game: Evan Hull busts a long TD run late in the 1st to get the ‘Cats back in the game… temporarily.

Player(s) to Watch: The front 7 on defense. I fully expect the QBs to be terrible again, but if we are to avoid getting boat raced in most of our games this year then we need to see serious improvement from the defense… particularly the line and LBs.

Warrior to Watch: It’s gotta be Andy Day. He’s there in person and he was forced to sit with all of the free loaders in coach who had their student loans wiped away this week.

Other Game to Watch: Man City vs. Crystal Palace. The Palace boys are no pushover. This could be a fun match leading into the ‘Cats game.

DOC ROCHE:

Game Summary: meh

Game Score: Nebraska 31– ‘Cats 10

Play of the Game: Andy O’Day slams several Guinness before kickoff

Player(s) to Watch: whoever the QB is, in perpetuity

Warrior to Watch: Andy O’Day celebrating on our behalf on the Emerald Isle

Other Game to Watch: F1 is back after their summer break with the Belgian GP. Max seems like he’s got the title wrapped up, but Mercedes has been figuring their shit out recently. Is Lewis gonna capture a race this year?

PAUL

I’m not getting my hopes up this season. Our talent is lacking thanks to guys going to transfer portal or heading to NFL early and we still can’t recruit like the big boys on the B1G. Our QB situation is horrendous and our schedule this year is set to be one of the toughest in the conference.

I have no idea why this week 0 game is being played in Ireland and no clue why our opponent is Nebraska. As some of you know I was raised a Cornhusker fan as my dad went to school there and I’m always one to be the contrarian so rooting for Ohio State growing up in Ohio was not an option. I hope Nebraska has a good season this year as Frost is on the hot seat and Nebraska is desperately trying to become relevant again after leaving the Big 12. I fear their season will start off slow but hopefully will be able to flip last year’s script and win some close games after losing so many last year in dumpster fire fashion. This first game will likely follow that playbook.


Game Summary: Cats are going to get waxed on offense as Nebraska will prepare for our run heavy and short passing offense. Unlikely we get anything more than a few lucky long passes in with our lackluster talent at QB. I don’t see us scoring more than a touchdown here and we’ll go down 24-10 at half. Fitz won’t switch up the gameplan and the 2nd half will be much like the first with more turnover on downs as we go for every one on Nebraska’s side of the field. Backups come in in the 4th Quarter.

Game Score: Nebraska 34 – ‘Cats 10

Play of the Game: Recover a muffed punt. But then turn the ball over on a QB sack fumble the very next play.

Player(s) to Watch: Agree with Roger here. The front 7 are going to make or break our year.

Warrior to Watch: ADay for sure. Let’s hope he can celebrate a victory in Polaris class on his return. 

Other Game to Watch: Browns Bears preseason. It might be a more interesting game than the Cats. 

HACK:

Let’s get down to business, in the year of our lord 2022, the Cats are going undefeated. 

Cats 45 – corn people 4

Believe people!

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