Prediction Friday – Akron

The ‘Cats had a huge setback last week. The Duke loss (predicted by Andy and Roche) was a tough one. Didn’t look good on either side of the ball. This has become an unfortunate issue for the ‘Cats over the last few years and we at the West Lot think a big part of that is coaching. McCall needed to go years ago, but here we are.

Tomorrow’s game at 6:30pm is the first one under the lights this year. While certainly not an in demand game (Stubhub’s most expensive section this morning was the 50 yard line for $9 – every other section could be had for $6) a solid win here with improvements on both sides of the ball will give the fan base a little more hope. All the Warriors think the Cats will win this one. If wrong it won’t spell a good rest of what is a start studded home lineup.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Roche and Andy took Duke in last week’s predictions which puts them as the only two to maintain a perfect record.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Onto the predictions… (Editor’s note: The Warriors are protesting the “Play of the Game” category until Northwestern steps it up with Roger’s Play of Game excepted due to its nature of being related to the halftime show.)

TRENT

Game Summary: My one word recap of last week’s game: Ugh. The high that starts the season, where it seems anything is possible and the whole world is in front of us – a B1G championship, Final Four all still within the distant realm of possibility – this is matched only by the low that comes with our first loss, where things fall apart and we come crashing back down to reality. Reality this year isn’t looking all that great – we got outplayed by Duke on both sides of the ball, and they’ll be one of our easier opponents this year. We still have games against Akron, Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers on the schedule, but even if we sweep those games we’ll still need to beat one of Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan St, and Iowa to make a bowl game. Certainly doable, but we will be underdogs in the majority of our games moving forward.

We are not underdogs this week – we’re favored at home by 21 over the Zips. I think we’ll win but not in a blowout fashion; I’d bet on the Zips in this spot to at least cover. As Teddy Greenstein often points out, the ‘Cats do not do well as a home favorite. I see a tight game throughout, with the ‘Cats pulling away late in the fourth quarter. We need better play from our receivers and at QB – Jeremy Larkin can’t do this all on his own. The lack of creativity and ability to move the ball at all last week was mind-boggling. Duke’s got a good defense, sure – but we’re going to be playing even better defenses very soon as Michigan and Wisconsin come to town. Once Cam Green got tossed out of the game last week, it seemed like our entire game plan fell apart and we were out of ideas. That can happen this week, but it can’t happen as we enter B1G season.

Final Score: NU 31 – Akron 20

Play of the Game: n/a

Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser – give the Ohio kid some run against the Zips.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. The weather’s getting a bit colder and it’s officially purple suit season.

Other Game to Watch: Hawaii @ Army. Love the Rainbow Warriors this year – the only 3-0 team in the country. Let’s see how they do on a cross country trip to Army with an 11am start time…sheesh. This should be an interesting clash of polar opposite styles.

ROGER

Game Summary: I sound like a broken record, but it’s getting rather boring being a fan of this team. Even when the Cats have put up 10 wins recently, they have been essentially eliminated from “competing for championships” by the second week of October. While last week’s loss doesn’t eliminate NU from anything at the moment (other than maybe the National Championship… which was never plausible), it does suggest we won’t need to wait past the second week of October to be eliminated from more plausible championships yet again.

So, that brings us to this game.
I have to ask … who cares? As the esteemed Warrior @TrentensHome noted, this game is important in our bid to reach 6 wins and get invited to a middling bowl game where attendance of 30,000 is deemed successful. But, I’m getting tired of those and thus I’m not really interested in this game. At all.
Akron was “good” last year. And by “good” I mean they won their division within the MAC. At the same time, they lost to the 2 Power Five teams they played by a combined score of 93-14, they lost their bowl game to Florida Atlantic 50 – 3 and they also managed to lose to Troy, Miami (OH) and Toledo (twice). All the while, they lost their 2 best running backs, their 5 leading wide receivers and several of their offensive linemen to graduation in the offseason. As a result, Akron is being picked near the bottom of their division this year. This shouldn’t be close.
But it will…. because Mick (and Fitz’s QB reindeer games).

Game Score: NU 24 – Akron 13

Play of the Game: Z Von gets recruited from the parking lot to participate in a halftime game. Embarrassed from his last performance, he obliges and looks to redeem himself. Funny enough, this year’s “game” has Z Von in a punt-pass-kick competition against an 8 year old Evanston resident. Sadly, Z loses… again. His punt goes backwards.

(Non-Thorson) Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher – he has been very quiet thus far.

Warrior to Watch:  Rus. He had a great week last week. Tremendous week. Played out of his mind. Can he replicate his performance? Are we sure he has the keys to the van?

Other Game to Watch:  Vanderbilt @ Notre Dame. I have a sneaking suspicion that Vandy is a lot better than people realize. I also feel pretty confident that ND is nowhere near a top 10 team despite their ranking. This one could get fun in South Bend.

HACK

Game Summary & Complaints: Last week sucked. I believe Clayton’s butt will be firmly attached to the bench this week as we get ready for the start of a tough Big Ten slate. As a result, we will see a heavy dose of the Twins, Larkin and Moten. I did no research on Akron, but I assume the D will come out angry and not allow any points.

Dearest Under Armor, The font you’ve chosen for our numbers is not good. People can’t easily see the difference between a 0 and an 8. This is a problem considering our RBs are numbers 20 and 28 and our QBs, who rotate for some stupid reason are 10 and 18. Fix it.
I’d like to compliment Coach Fitz on an outstanding week of coaching football in which he opposed communism and the RPO. It’s about damn time, someone told the brain-damaged idiots who comment on college football to talk about something else. Honestly, how hard is it to not repeat yourself over and over again during a 3-hour broadcast. Legitimately, you do fewer than twenty games a year.
Here are some suggestions on how to become more interesting:
  1. Read a book
  2. Take an improv class
  3. Watch something other than football
  4. Rotating face paints during the game
  5. Just yell random words
  6. Mock the coaches
  7. Hire non football players to commentate
  8. Two drunk fans

Final Score: NU 21 – Akron 0

Play of the Game: n/a

Player to Watch: Whoever’s playing offensive tackle: We are three weeks from playing the second best pair of d ends in the country our tackles being injured is an area of high concern

Warrior to Watch: Paul: Many people were shocked not to see him in the West Lot last week. It would be a real shame if he got super drunk and did something stupid trying to make up for it. A real shame.

Other Games to Watch: LSU vs Auburn: Geaux Tigahs!

ZVON

Game Summary:  The parking lot will be rocking – mostly just the northeast corner of the West Lot. The Cats will come out rumblin’, tumblin’, and hopefully not stumblin’ (and def not fumblin’). Cats play well early – up at half and then a nice finish.

Final Score: Cats 28 – ZIPS 7

Play of the Game: n/a

Player to Watch: QB – whoever we play.

Warrior to Watch:  Signs point to Hack trying to release some fireball into the world.

Other Games to Watch: Vikes Packers.

ROCHE

Game Summary: Meh

Final Score: NU 40 – Akron 20

Play of the Game: n/a

Player to Watch: Whatever

Warrior to Watch:  All you guys. Give ’em hell in the West Lot tomorrow.

Other Games to Watch:  Cubs – Reds. Will the Cubs hold on down the stretch? Will they have to settle for the Wild Card?

PAUL

Game Summary:  We will win, but not by much. Total times the West Lot calls for Mick McCall to be fired during the game O/U 13.5.

Final Score: NU 14 – ZIPS 10

Play of the Game: n/a

Player to Watch: Thorson – Will he play the majority of the game this week?

Warrior to Watch: Roger. I’m feeling a nice breakout tailgate for the kid with the evening game. Also big props to the Parrotts for cooking authentic Spanish paella!

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State @ TCU. Prepare for a buckeye beatdown to impress the rankings for Irving Meyers return next week.

DAY

No submission.

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Prediction Friday – Duke

Will the Cats be singing U! RAH! RAH! at Ryan Field this week?

The ‘Cats are off to a great start after a win in West Lafayette last week. While we didn’t score in the 2nd half and Fitz was doing some weird QB rotation, Thorson looked pretty good. Tomorrow’s game (bright and early at 11am Central) will hopefully serve as some redemption after last year’s brutal loss on Blue Devil soil. Warriors split the ticket on who will win this one with Day and Roche predicting a Duke win. Let’s hope they’re wrong.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Everyone gets a win for last week’s predictions. Roger is lucky Fitz didn’t decide to have Thorson come in 2nd in the QB rotation last week. He was also the closest in score prediction, expecting a 31-21 win (NU won 31-27).

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Onto the predictions…

TRENT

Game Summary: I’m so tired of Duke. We’ve played them each of the last three years. Looking ahead, we play them again from 2021-2024. Enough already, they’re such an effing boring opponent. If David Cutcliffe is such a great Xs and Os coach why doesn’t he go diagram his way into a retirement home? Peyton Manning can go ahead and join him down there for all I care. Maybe work in the kitchen and cut. that. meat.

Looking at the game this year, I’m pretty worried about the Blue Devils. They ran the ‘Cats out of the building down in Durham last year, and looked pretty good as they beat up on Army last week. Daniel Jones is a super solid QB who can do it through the air or with his legs. Our secondary is going to have to play a hell of a game to contain him – unfortunately that was the weak spot of our team last week against Purdue. We’re going to give up some points, which means we’re going to need to score and keep scoring to win. It seems like Thorson and TJ Green are going to switch in and out again without any rhyme or reason as they did last week – not a great recipe for getting our offense in a rhythm. Winning the turnover battle saved us last week – feels like we’re going to need a bit of that luck again this week to pull it out.

The one piece I was very impressed with last week was our play on both lines – we held Purdue without a sack, and pressure from our D line forced Purdue’s QBs into some errant throws. If we can control the line of scrimmage again and force two turnovers or more, I think we can pull this one out. I also know Fitz has been showing the team tape of the blowout loss to Duke last year to get them fired up – that added motivation could put us over the top.

Final Score: ‘Cats win 33-31

Play of the Game: Jeremy Larkin jukes the Duke safety out of his pants and does a safety dance of his own in the end zone.

Player to Watch:The obvious choice would be the QBs, but I think it’s Larkin. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say he’s our best player – kid was phenomenal last week against Purdue and carried us to the W. If he can avoid injury he’s going to do some big things this year.

Warrior to Watch:Hack – kid’s been playing hurt and was able to manage getting Rose the Van towed out of the lot this week for emergency surgery. Let’s see if/how he can hold his liquor on Saturday.

Other Game to Watch: USC @ Stanford. Fun matchup early in the season. I’ll cheat and also say UGA at South Carolina – a lot of pundits are on the other USC to pull the upset here. This one could have playoff implications.

HACK

Game Summary: All respect to David Cutcliffe, who is a genius but I’m going to start this summary off by stating some facts about Duke.

  1. Coach K pays his players.
  2. Coach K dyes his hair.
  3. The Cameron Crazies are all losers.

I have no idea what happened during this game last year, but I see a motivated Cats team coming out and punching Duke in the mouth from the start. Don’t get me wrong I expect both sides to score some points, but the Cats O line should neutralize the Duke front 7, while Daniel Jones should spend most of this game running for his life and probably several undeserved first downs. The Cats will drive and score on their first 3 possessions while Duke will walk away with only one score at the end of the 1st. It is at this point that TJ Green will enter the game and the Wildcat fan base will lose its mind.

I will be leading the Warriors in deep breathing exercises, but plan on having a backup plan(Fireball) if things go poorly. Shockingly, Green performs quite well and throws a touchdown on a fade to his cousin Bennett Skowronek. Duke scores again to make it 28-14 at the half. Cat’s O again decides that it’s not worth scoring touchdowns in the second half and Duke manages to score one touchdown for each team. Throw in some field goals and we have ourself a 14 point Cats win.

On TV, I’m excited to hear Beth Mowens and Joey Galloway, who I assume are calling this game.

Game Score: NU 38 – Duke 24

Play of the Game: Earnest Brown 4.0 blindsides Daniel Jones resulting in a fumble which Jordan Thompson picks up and returns 34 yards for a score.

Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher – His performance last week was strangely quiet. My guess is that Purdue made limiting him a key part of the game plan. He’s going to have a huge role this week in limiting Daniel Jones and RPOs.

Warrior to Watch: Rose – Will she recover in time for the game?

Other Game to Watch: Penn State vs Pitt – The Battle for Pennsylvania Who wants William Penn’s colony more? I’m quaking with anticipation!

ADAY

Game Summary: I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Duke pantsed us the last time we played. Fitz is threatening to be “cute” with his quarterback situation. Rose’s status is unknown for the tailgate. I want to think we’re gonna bring home the W, but my gut says otherwise. Jones picks apart our secondary and our offense loses steam (again). Duke is able to hold off a late drive and gets the road “upset.”

Final Score: Dook 31 – NU 28

Play of the Game: Larkin breaks a big one for a TD (57 yards to be exact) on 3rd and 1.

Player to Watch: Nate Hall – had a great game against Purdue, can he keep it rollin?

Warrior to Watch:  Rog – he’s gettin’ up there… can the old timer still hang?

Other Games to Watch: Georgia @ South Carolina – ranked conference game amirite?

ROCHE

Game Summary:  The Blue Devil skill players mostly return. Daniel Jones has his favorite receiver back, but his O-Line is mostly new. I liked the pressure the ‘Cats got on Purdue, and I hope they can cause Jones to make some bad decisions.

I still don’t think the ‘Cats pull it off. I don’t have enough faith in the QB by committee, and I think Jeremy Larkin’s gonna have a hard time finding running room.

I haven’t been to a game in a while – do they still do “Hands in the Air” to start the 4th quarter?

Final Score: Duke 30 – ‘Cats 24

Play of the Game: Jeremy Larkin short TD run just before halftime to tie it up.

Player to Watch: Anyone on the ‘Cats D-Line.

Warrior to Watch:  Andy. Our longest distance Warrior makes an appearance! How will the long flight affect his performance?

Other Games to Watch: Penn State vs Pitt – Hack, that was a solid Keystone State pun. We appreciate it here.

PAUL

Game Summary: I’m 1-0 when watching the Cats on TV this year and hopefully we’ll keep that streak alive. I will be back in Wooster, OH for my 10 year reunion so will be watching this one from the couch. This will be a tough one for the Cats, but I think they have their last loss fresh in their minds. Our last loss to a non-top 10 opponent was to Duke last September 9th – and it was a bad one 41-17. Look for the Cats to balance the run/pass game pretty well and hopefully the announcers won’t say “RPO” a billion times like the kooks on NBC did for last night’s Bird Game. Defense is going to come up huge here, holding the Blue Devils to just 10 points. While the offense will score some points in the second half (unlike last game), it will only be a B- game for Clayton and Co.

Final Score: ‘Cats 20 – Duke 10

Play of the Game: Larkin breaks a big one for a TD (56 yards to be exact) on 3rd and 1.

Player to Watch: Bowser. Needs to prove himself as a viable RB option.

Warrior to Watch:  Has to be Hack here. He served as chief nurse for Rose this week. Will his effort pay off? Will Rose rise from the dead? Saturday will mark the third day

Other Games to Watch:  MSU at ASU. Sparty will actually lose this one after a pitiful performance last week against Utah State.

ROGER

Game Summary:  For a fairly solid team that went 10-3 last year, I still have no idea how NU got so thoroughly whipped by Duke last season. The Cats played about as bad as possible (and were as unprepared as possible… shout out Fitz) while Duke played flawless football. I don’t expect either of those things to happen again this year. This one should be a tight battle throughout.

I was wrong last week. While Thorson started the game and had the offense humming, apparently the platoon was in the cards. I still don’t understand this. I’m not an orthopedic surgeon (though I know one…. shout out to Mr. Hack), but I feel like one’s ability to play football post ACL surgery is binary. You’re either cleared or you aren’t. Can endurance be an issue with an injury like this? Seems strange.

As for the game…… I really don’t expect a ton of points in this one. Duke has a very good defense (they were one of the best in the country last year, surprisingly…. look it up). NU’s defense will look better this week despite some injuries to the DTs because Duke doesn’t have a 5 star receiver who runs like a gazelle. That said, they do have a dual threat QB – Daniel Jones. He doesn’t have quite the arm of Elijah “Joey” Sindelar, but he’s also not likely to throw 3 picks in the first half.

The Cats will defer the kick. Duke will put together a quality drive and miss a FG. Then, the Cats will do the same except Chuck Koobs will make a 36 yarder. Then, we’ll start seeing Fit’z platooning at QB reindeer games (probably on the 2nd drive of the game instead of the 3rd). We’ll all get pissed. The offense will stagnate for most of the game. Thankfully, the defense will do a lot of bending but not breaking.

I fully expect us to be worried like hell at some point in the 4th quarter. But, I have confidence that Clayton will take the field with an opportunity deep in the 4th and get it done.

Final Score: NU 20 – Duke 17

Play of the Game: Clayton Thorson engineers a late 4th quarter TD drive capped by a Cam Green TD catch.

Player to Watch: Thorson – Will he play the majority of the game this week?

Warrior to Watch: Rusty – What a performance from the guy this week. He got new wheels put on the damn van. What else can you say?

Other Game to Watch: Oklahoma – UCLA. OU should win easily, but I’m curious if they actually do. If they do then they are probably legit and I will fully expect them to win out in a suspect Big 12.

ZVON

Game Summary:  On Vacation.

Final Score: Cats 27 – Duke 23

Prediction Thursday – Purdue

Will that $260 million investment pay dividends??

Tonight’s game (7pm Central) is going to come down to who will be starting under center. The entire crew believes the Cats are going to win in that scenario, but Roger has put in a caveat to his pick where Purdue is the victor if Thorson doesn’t start. Sad!

Here’s to a starting out a tough season with a W Cats fans!

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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OR

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Slate is clean. Who is going to be the best money line picker this year??

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Onto the predictions…

ROCHE

Game Summary: I haven’t read or watched much of anything this off-season. So my knowledge of the upcoming season is based on the thousands of texts in our thread that I didn’t bother to read. I’m excited to see Thornton back on the field after his injury. I wonder if Fitz is going to platoon Ol’ Bigsby and TJ.

Final Score: ‘Cats 27 – Boilers 24

Play of the Game: Something something something big third down stop in the fourth quarter.

Player to Watch: Whichever QB is under center

Warrior to Watch: Roger just got a promotion! How will he celebrate?

Other Game to Watch: Notre Dame – Michigan. Both teams are looking to recapture some 90’s glory to kick off the season.

TRENT

Game Summary: Is Thorson going to play? Will we see TJ Green instead? Fitz is keeping his cards close to his vest and we won’t know for sure until game time on Thursday. However, I’m not sure that’s the key factor in this game.

Purdue lost eight players on defense from last year. We should put up some points regardless of who’s starting. Purdue scored 13 points against our defense in Evanston last year, including a garbage time TD. Sure, Brohm will come with some tricks and gadget plays in the first game of the year. The ‘Cats simply can’t prepare for those and Purdue will score as well. But at the end of the day I trust our D over the Boilermakers’ D. ‘Cats win in a squeaker.

Game Score: ‘Cats 24-21

Play of the Game: Paddy Fisher strip sack.

Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser. Love this kid. Hopefully he gets some PT.

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day. Vegas baby, Vegas!

Other Game to Watch: FAU – Oklahoma. Lane Kiffin brought some energy to the Owls last year and they can certainly put up some points. So can Oklahoma. This should be a high scoring game and a fun one.

PAUL

I can’t believe we’re doing game summaries on a Wednesday. Just doesn’t feel right. Hopefully NU will get an extra 2:30pm/evening games to make up for it, but that’s going to require some winning.

Game Summary:We’ll have perfect weather in podunk West Lafayette so expect to see some passing from both teams, but this is going to be a trench battle. With Thorson not 100% even if he starts, NU is going to look to keep his reps and hits minimal instead handing the ball to Bowser (great t-shirt content potential here). Tied at 12 going into the half as both teams give up safeties. NU pulls away in the second half with crucial pick by NU defense (more below) to seal the deal. Vegas boys then double their sports winnings at the craps table.

Final Score: NU 25 – PU 19

Play of the Game: NU INT by Paddy Fisher in the end-zone in early Q4 for a touch back

Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel. WRs gotta bring the heat this year. Tomorrow is the time to set the tone.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. Will he be rocking the one eye after Durkins?

Other Games to Watch: Washington v. Auburn. Atlanta. Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Top 10 match-up. SEC begins their season long downfall.

DAY

Game Summary: There is a general consensus of the Wildcat faithful that the ‘Cats will be good this year, but this schedule is just too hard to handle. I generally like seasons where no one gives us a fighting chance. When there is too much hype (see 2013 for example) we generally fall flat. The real question is… can we start the season off strong. Despite an exciting 10 win campaign in 2017, the ‘Cats started 2-3 including a loss to a Duke team that ended up being not all that stellar. In the last two seasons the ‘Cats are 3-5 in their first 4 games of the season with one of those losses coming against FCS Illinois State. So to me, the biggest question is can we figure it out from the opening kick of 2018?

I think we can. ‘Cats win in a close one. The defense is the difference with a multi-sack effort from Joe Gaziano and a winning the turnover battle.

Final Score: ‘Cats 28 – Purdont 21

Play of the Game: Clayton breaks off a huge run off of a broken play, takes a hit, coaches yell at him. Still exciting. ‘Cats score on the next play on a Larkin run.

Player to Watch: Obviously whoever is under center, but let’s also see how Larkin does in his first go as the #1 back. He quietly averaged 6.0 YPC last season.

Warrior to Watch: Another obvious pick, Trent. See you in Vegas tomorrow buddy.

Other Games to Watch: I’ll take the battle of the OSUs. Can Ohio State overcome the controversy and beat Oregon State in Week 1?

ROGER

Game Summary: I can’t remember the last time a game was so entirely dependent on something already known (will Thorson play?), but not known to the masses.

For the record, I think Thorson is either playing the vast majority of the game or not playing at all. I don’t really understand why they would platoon him. He’s either capable of playing or not. It seems binary to me… even with short yardage sneak situations.

If Thorson plays, I actually think the offense will be better than it was when he was fully healthy. We won’t see nearly as much option bullshit. That’s good because it doesn’t work particularly well with Thorson. He’s fast as a downhill runner, but he isn’t shifty at all. Mick will be forced to limit his called runs/run options with Thorson.

If Thorson doesn’t play, well, you’re kidding yourself if you think NU’s offense will be able to do anything. If Thorson doesn’t play then TJ Green will be our quarterback. He has never thrown a pass. I don’t care how bad Purdue’s defense is/was/will be. TJ Green is unlikely to light up the Purdue secondary and they know that just as well as you and I know that. They’ll stack the box. It will be impossible to run. The whole game will be painful because…..

Purdue will be able to score some points. I expect our front seven to be pretty good though I’m a bit worried about the loss of Tyler Lancaster. Our secondary is inexperienced and they will make a few mistakes. Also, Purdue has a deadly set of NFL caliber tight ends that will challenge our secondary. I expect plenty of action with Paddy and company in coverage which could open up the game for Purdue if our front 4 isn’t capable of shutting down the Purdue running game.

So…… yea. Thorson? or no Thorson?

Final Score w/ Thorson: NU 31 – PU 21
Final Score w/out Thorson: PU 41 – NU 17

Play of the Game w/ Thorson: Thorson QB sneak TD on the first drive. If he’s cleared to play, then he’s cleared to get tackled and he should be in on short yardage situations.
Play of the Game w/o Thorson: TJ Green throws pass to himself (deflection off the head of an offensive lineman)

Player to Watch: Uh…. Thorson

Warrior to Watch: ADay and Bag. They’ll be in Vegas. I wonder what kind of action we’ll see with the line in the 10 minutes leading up to kickoff.

Other Game to Watch: We’ll go with Washington vs. Auburn. A lot of people have Washington in the Playoff. That seems absurd to me. I think we will see why on Saturday. As an aside, I’m always excited about the start of the college football season, but most of the “can’t miss” matchups tend to end up as duds in Week 1. Let’s hope that’s not the case this year.

ZVON

Game Summary: I love the ‘Cats. They have to win this one – would be pretty classic NU to lose tho.

Final Score: ‘Cats 17 – Purdue 13

Play of the Game: Clayton Thorson takes the first snap of the season for the ‘Cats.

Player to Watch:  Paddy – what a name!

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack – rumor has it that this guy may have to play hurt.

Other Game to Watch: All the games! It’s opening weekend.

HACK

Game Summary: The Cats are better at every position than Purdue. This game won’t be close. Roll Cats.

Final Score: Northwestern 38- Purdue 17

Play of the Game: Larkin 75 yard touchdown on the 2nd play from scrimmage

Players to Watch: The O line: Are they for real?

Warrior to Watch: Trent, will he be the new owner of a casino by the end of the weekend?

Other Game to Watch Notre Dame VS Michigan : The All-Overrated Bowl

Prediction Friday – Wisconsin

Gonna need some help from the Man upstairs tomorrow.

The Warriors are not confident in the Cats this week with only Gregory T. Bag picking the boys in purple. Let’s hope he’s right.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Everyone picked the Cats last week keeping the race neck and neck and neck between Roger, Roche and Paul. Shoutout to Roche for missing the score by just 3 points last week with his 24-14 prediction.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Onto the predictions…

ROCHE

If it seems like it’s been awhile since the ‘Cats have won in Camp Randall…

How about that! The road team hasn’t won a game in this series since 2000, when Northwestern marched to Madison and won 47-44 (we don’t see that color of turf anymore!). What’s more surprising to me is that the Badgers haven’t won in Evanston since 1999! They’re 0-4 at Ryan Field since 2000! Research is fun. And I guess this series has been more even than I had suspected.

Can Northwestern win? Sure! Will they win? Well that’s contingent on their offense performing at a mediocre level, which I don’t think we’ll see tomorrow. They had trouble against Purdue.Wisconsin is a much better football team than Purdue.

(Look it’s not like I think Wisconsin will move the ball on the ‘Cats like they did in 2010, but they’ll do enough.)

Game Summary: Wisconsin sets the tone early with an opening drive TD, and the ‘Cats can’t make any ground on offense. The score stays 7-0 until the late third quarter when the Badgers put together another long drive to eat up clock and push the score to 14-0. Jack Mitchell punches in a FG at some point thereafter.

Final Score: UW 14 – NU 3

Play of the Game: Jump Around is always fun at Camp Randall. They’ll show it on teevee too. Let’s go with that.

Player to Watch: Bigsby. Will he recover from being benched last week for a drive? Or will we see more of the same

Warrior to Watch: ZVon will be in attendance in Madison. Look for him in his purple suit looking for ways to stay warm. All those ways involve alcohol.

Other Game to Watch: PSU Michigan. I see Michigan rolling the Nittany Lions and people in Central PA continue to call for Franklin’s head

TRENT

This game is huge for both teams. Wisconsin still has the slightest of chances to pull out the B1G West. The ‘Cats are fighting for position in the rankings to make a run at a New Year’s Six Bowl. It’s going to snow, and then going to warm up a bit, so we could have some slushy conditions come game-time tomorrow.

Wisconsin and NU boast identical 8-2 records – both teams have only lost to elite teams, but the ‘Cats have better wins (namely Stanford). Wisco has a stifling defense, and actually isn’t a typical Badgers squad as they rely more on the pass than the run. I see this as a defensive battle, especially given the crap conditions.

Game Summary: As I mentioned, Wisconsin does not rely as heavily on the run in years past, and their best RB Corey Clement is looking doubtful for this game. So, they’re going to have to look to Joel Stave to move the ball through the air. Snow will be falling in Madison over the next 24 hours, but unfortunately it looks like it’s going to subside before game time. So, the field might be in bad shape, but the air should be clear enough for Stave to sling it. Last year the ‘Cats secondary owned Stave (and Tanner McEvoy, who started that game) with four total picks, three by Godwin Igwebuike. I think the ‘Cats are going to need at least two turnovers to stay in this one.

Having watched Wisconsin a lot over the past few years, I am pretty familiar with Stave and the way their offense operates. I can tell you right now they really only have one WR threat, Alex Erickson. He has over 800 receiving yards on the year – the next closest player on Wisconsin has less than 400. If Fitz/Hankwitz are smart, they’ll put Erickson on Matt Harris Island, and take him out of the game entirely. If they are smart enough to have Harris blanket Erickson all day (a big if), they can shut down this Wisconsin passing attack, and turn them into a one-dimensional offense.

So there’s a nice road map for our D to shut down their O, the only issue is that we need to score points to win. I have a hard time seeing how the ‘Cats will move the ball in this game, especially if Bigsby Thorson plays like he did against Purdue. And, this will only be Thorson’s fourth ever road game. In watching the Nebraska game on TV, the crowd honestly didn’t sound that intimidating. Duke’s crowd was a joke. Unless the cold/snow scares away a lot of Badger fans, I see Camp Randall jumping around on Saturday and making it really tough on Thorson. One thing Thorson has going for him is third down conversions – I’m too lazy to look up the numbers but I’d bet he’s better on third down then he is on first or second. That’s not as easy to do, however, when it’s third and long and the ground is literally shaking.

Alright, that’s a lot of setup for a quick prediction. I think the ‘Cats force a few turnovers, get good field position out of it, and convert in the red zone for once. They’ll do just enough in a hostile environment to pull out a W, and get Chick Fil A after the game. Kudos to the Daily Northwestern for this fantastic and important piece of journalism…hoping for a repeat on Saturday.

Game Score: ‘Cats 14 – Wisco 10

Play of the Game: Cakes Walker catches a tipped pass late for his first INT on the year, to seal the game.

Player to Watch: Matt Harris. As mentioned above, the ‘Cats need Harris to blanket Alex Erickson all day. That will give us a chance.

Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin has a wedding on Saturday – will he be able to catch the end of the ‘Cats game? Will he be following on his phone in church?

Other Games to Watch: Three this weekend, one each day. First off: Bulls-Warriors tonight. I think the Bulls take down Steph Curry and crew (who looked unbelievable last night and are ripe for an emotional letdown), giving Golden State their first loss of the season. Second: UNC @VT tomorrow. Virginia Tech’s coach Frank Beamer has been around for like 100 years, and is finally retiring at the end of this year. VT has been to 21 straight bowl games. They currently need one more win for bowl eligibility. Tomorrow is Coach Beamer’s last ever home game. Down goes UNC. Third: TREVOR SIEMIAN comes back to town on Sunday, now as an official NFL back-up quarterback! He is now one Brock Osweiler injury away from taking the field. Never want to hope for a player to get injured, but it’d be pretty darn cool to see TrevDog take the field once again in Chi Town.

PAUL

I hate the Badgers. Great city. Horrible fans. Horrible program. I may be saying that because we’ve gotten destroyed there too many times, but that’s neither here nor there.

Game Summary: This is going to be a cold one, although the snow will likely have been cleared by kickoff :-(. Let’s just say I’m glad I’ll be watching this one indoors. The Cats will have spurts of offensive success throughout the game, but unfortunately won’t be able to get into the end  zone a single time. Little Jacky Mitchell will shank one and make one in the first half while the Badgers put up 14 points on two sustained drives that heavily rely on the run. Going into halftime the Cats fans know that’s all she wrote. While the defense keeps the Cats within 2 scores into the 4th quarter with a clutch red zone INT, there’s no stopping the Badgers and they roll.

Final Score: UW 31 – NU 9

Play of the Game: End Zone interception by Igwebuike

Player to Watch: Bigsby. But he’ll drop the ball, figuratively. Snax will see some action.

Warrior to Watch: ZVonE!! He’ll be making the trek up north ensuring only 1 game (NEB) was missed by the Warriors. Will the purple suit come out in this weather? +230 on YES.

Other Games to Watch: The best record matchup of the week MSU @ OSU in which the Buckeyes will eek out a win. Hammer MSU +13.5. This one is closely followed by two 9-1 teams battling it out. Charleston Southern vs. #2 Alabama. Hammer BAMA -38.5.

ZVON

Well, well, well…. The ‘Cats go up to Madison once again.  A place we haven’t won for awhile and the last two matchups we’ve lost 105-29 cumulatively.  I don’t know what it is about Wisco but we have a tough time there, they have a tough time here.  However, the past 24 matchups have resulted in a 12-12 series tie.  I like the ‘Cats to keep this one closer, maybe even win, but it’s going to be a defensive game regardless, I think.  Shout out to Starwood for the room this weekend – who knows how or where the rewards system will go.

Game Summary: NU offense doesn’t do much in the first half.  I think we muster a FG.  Wisconsin’s defense is too fast and solid for the ‘Cats to do anything out of the gate.  Wisco scores 10 in the first half.  Second half and we put together a nice JJ run to get us close, down 13-10 but the Badgers play solid from then out and win.

Final Score: Wisco 20 – NU 10

Play of the Game: Justin Jackson with a 15 yard td run in middle of third Q.

Player to Watch: Bigsby – will the cold hurt him?  Can he be confident?  Does Snax play again?!

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day – he won’t have to wake up too early for this one.  Special Celebrity Warrior nomination for Scott Harold.  He’ll be in Madison with me (and my brother) and we’ll be taking in the game as well as some brews.

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State vs. Michigan State – it seems like the hoopla isn’t there because of MSU’s loss to Nebraska (of all teams) but I still think this is a great rivalry in the B1G.

HACK

Game Summary: I have been to two games in Madison, Wisconsin. The Cats have been blown out twice. Luckily for the Cats, I will not be in attendance, but I don’t see this going much better.

Final Score: Wisconsin 35 – Northwestern 10

Play of the Game: Dean Lowry sacks Stave for a 26 yards loss.

Player to Watch: Bigsby – show me what ya got kid.

Warrior to Watch: Z Von. Will he end up shot gunning beers in sorrow at 5 am again?

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State vs. Michigan State  because ya.

ROGER

Game Summary: Defensive slugfest. Stave makes plays when he needs to. Thorson doesn’t.

Final Score: Wisconsin 23 – NU 9

Play of the Game: Dean Lowry gets his big paw on an extra point and blocks it.

Player to Watch: Thorson and Mick… Forevermore

Warrior to Watch: Von… Of course. He will be there.

Other Game to Watch: Oklahoma State vs Baylor. Really curious about this one…

@ADAYNU

Cats lose.