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.

Through Rose Colored Glasses – NU Season Outlook

The best part of 2020 is that it puts everything in perspective. The ‘Cats had a rough year in 2019. We won one game in the Big Ten, our last. Our three wins included Illinois, UNLV and UMass. But here in 2020, you look back and say, “eh”, maybe that year wasn’t so bad.

The  ‘Cats were picked to finish either 6th or 7th (Of 7) in The Big Ten West in every single CBS Sports Preseason poll. Every other team in the West was picked by at least one writer To finish in the top 3. Our highest ranking was 6th.

This is where I put on my optimism hat. If I know anything about the Cats, it’s that we zig when people expect us to zag. When we are expected to perform, we fall apart. When no one expects us to be any good, we are halfway decent.

Our offense finished last in the Big Ten last year. We played five different QBs. But why would this year be any different? When you get a solid QB and a solid new O coordinator, it’s a new variable factor. And again, perspective. When you’re comparing to Mick McCall, even a bunch of children piled on each others’ shoulders inside a trenchcoat, wielding a playcalling sheet, would look solid in comparison.

But seriously, Bajakian brings a new offense to the scheme. Up tempo. Runs a lot. Uses TE. No more Superbacks. And he’s got a QB to run the system. Again, we played 5 QBs last year. None of them were even mildly competent aside from Marty (and maybe TJ Green for 5 snaps). Now we pick up Peyton Ramsey “Bolton,” a starter at Indiana. PFF absolutely loved Ramsey last year…

That’s about all the time I have to write, so wrapping this up with a few quick hits.

Player to watch on offense: John “Purple” Raine, TE. This transfer from FAU had some decent success with the Owls last year and brings some experience to a position group that did absolutely nothing last year. We need some pass-catchers to get open this year, and I’ve got a good feeling that Raine will become a go-to target for Ramsey. Ramsey’s obviously the most important player on the team, but going with Raine here who’s a little more off the radar.

Player to watch on defense: Earnest Brown IV, DE. With Miller opting out on the D line and Gaziano now in the pros, a position of general strength for the ‘Cats gets weaker. Brown is now our best player on the line – can Earnest generate some pressure on opposing QBs this year?

Most important game: @Iowa week two. Most people are picking Minnesota or Wisconsin to top the Big Ten West, but I feel this Iowa game is more important because it sets the tone for the year. Kinnick is typically a brutal place to play, but no fans will take some of the sting out of it. Win this game, and it could propel us on a really nice path with a very manageable schedule this year.

We’re Back

I’M SO HAPPY WE ARE PLAYING B1G FOOTBALL ONCE AGAIN. THE YEAR WOULDN’T FEEL COMPLETE WITHOUT AN 11AM WILDCATS – TERRAPINS GAME AT RYAN FIELD IN 50 DEGREE WEATHER. INJECT IT INTO MY VEINS PLS. 

I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NORTHWESTERN FOOTBALL IN 2020. HERE ARE 6 REASONS WHY I THINK WE COULD DO WELL THIS YEAR!!!

1.       We have more returning players than any team in the B1G – in fact, we have the most returning production in the nation. This was true at least until Rashawn Slater decided to opt for the NFL. Great decision btw. I’m assuming this stat is still true but I’m too lazy to double check. 

2.       We have a competent QB. I always liked Peyton Ramsey at Indiana. He can run, he can throw a decent ball, and he makes good decisions. Not flashy, not incredible, not insane. But solid. And solid is a huge upgrade over the heaping pile of dog shit that took snaps for us last year.

3.       We have one of the easiest schedules in the B1G. We avoid Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan – the three best teams in the East. There really isn’t a terrifying single game on our schedule, or a terrifying stretch of games. The schedule is well balanced to the point where the toughest two games we play back to back are @MSU and @Minnesota – not fun but manageable.

4. Who cares if there aren’t fans? NU has a home field disadvantage anytime we play a powerhouse school. So no fans may actually help us at home. And on the road, it’s definitely a help to us. Playing a game at Kinnick just won’t be as intimidating this year.

5.       We’re nerdier than other schools which equates to less chance of our players getting the rona. I’d say JK LOL but I think there is a bit of truth to that. Let’s be honest, the party situation at NU is lacking compared to pretty much every other B1G school. Less saliva swapping imo. Plus NU is again ranked as a top 10 school in the country. That means our players will make good decisions right? Though perhaps we should have followed LSU’s lead and just infected every kid earlier in the year to build up those antibodies.

6.       We have one less B1G game to play during the regular season. Smaller sample size favors the underdog. It inserts more randomness into the equation. Less games mean less chance for the ‘Cats to eff it up. Less is more in 2020. Let’s just be happy we have ‘Cats football at all!

Prediction Caturday – Indiana

Fitzy

The ‘Cats are sliding backwards, now sitting at 1-6 on the year after 5 straight losses. Can they turn things around in Bloomington in a night game against the 5-2 Hoosiers? Let’s see what the Warriors think.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: Well we had been trending closer and closer so it’s not a surprise that the ‘Cats got shut out on Saturday. In 5 of our 7 games this year, we’ve scored 10 points or less. That’s mind boggling.

I would say there’s good news and bad news, but surprisingly it’s really only good news. Firstly, this offensive ineptitude has whipped up what’s left of the fan base into a fury directed at Mick McCall. Fitz better get rid of McCall this offseason and use him as a scapegoat, because otherwise that fury will take aim at him. When your stadium is not even half full on Homecoming (and it wasn’t just because of the rain), the administration is going to take notice. Saturday was rock bottom for the Fitz era, no doubt about it.

The other good news is that we all know we’re bad, and thus there is no stress or pressure in watching a ‘Cats game. Our tailgate last Saturday was a blast, because you barely even needed to watch the game and could focus on the important things like drinking and more drinking.

My analysis of this Saturday’s game is that Indiana is actually pretty good, and Northwestern is not. Indiana is the only B1G team (aside from Maryland, against whom we are 1-0) who we have a winning record against. We are almost 13 point underdogs in Bloomington in a strange night game – my biggest guidance to you would be to take the under. Instead of further analysis, enjoy this drinking game for Saturday:

Sack – sip your beer

Offensive 3 and out – 1 drink

Change at QB – 2 drinks

Aidan Smith pick – 1 shot

Hunter Johnson pick – 2 shots

Safety – Malort shot

FG – Finish your beer

NU Touchdown – Vegas Bombs!

Game Score: NU 6 – Indiana 24

Play of the Game: We score points!

Player to Watch: Hunter Johnson

Warrior to Watch: Z Von

Other Game to Watch: Nebraska – Purdue. Nothing like some bad B1G football.

 

ANDY DAY

Game Summary: Indiana is not half bad. They are going bowling which is more than we can say for ourselves. I don’t think their defense is especially good, but their offense can score points in a hurry and we can not. I predict we will end our touchdown drought, but the game is never in doubt for Indiana.

Game Score: NU 13 – Indiana 27

Play of the Game: Drake Anderson TD scamper.

Player to Watch: Mick McCall – can he do anything against an average defense (#42 according to SP+)

Warrior to Watch: Trent – he came up with a drinking game for goodness sake.

Other Game to Watch: Gotta be the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, right?

 

ROGER

Have we reached the floor yet? Or do we still have further to fall? Note to Z Von (resident further/farther expert): while you could argue the use of either “further” or “farther” here (I’d listen and probably disagree), “further” makes more sense. Yes, we are referring to a distance which would ordinarily imply farther. However, in this case, the distance is metaphorical (though, for Marv in the video, it’s real). Thus, further. QED.

The offense can’t get any worse. I suppose we could score fewer than 13 points in November, but that’s about the only way it can get worse for them.

The defense can certainly get worse though. I fear it will in this one.

Game Summary: From an X’s and O’s perspective, Ohio State and Indiana are our two worst matchups this season. This Indiana team ran up and down the field with a backup qb against a very good Michigan State defense. They are VERY likely to do the same to us.

Unfortunately, our offense is appreciably worse than Michigan State’s.

This one will get ugly in a hurry as Indiana races to an impressive 7-2 start to the season.

Game Score: NU 7 – Indiana 45

Play of the Game: Andrew Marty throws a garbage TD pass in the 4th quarter. Hooray, points!

Player to Watch: Fitz – he’s being a real asshole and showing that he can’t handle adversity. Furthermore, I’m starting to wonder if Mick has become a convenient scapegoat for problems that stem from the head coach. The ‘Cats don’t need to win here (let’s not ask for too much), but Fitz damn sure better come to play.

Warrior to Watch: Z Von – he’s gonna have the Nest rockin.

Other Game to Watch: The Cocktail Party for sure. This is being overlooked here, but both UF and UGA still control their own destiny. Watch out for those Dawg fans in St. Simon’s Island this weekend.

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary: meh

Game Score: NU 10 – Indiana 21

Play of the Game: The van takes a well deserved week off.

Player to Watch: Hunter and/or Aidan

Warrior to Watch: Trent – please make sure he survives his drinking game.

Other Game to Watch: Florida – Georgia because of course

 

PAUL

Game Summary: It’s a night game so that’s fun, I guess.

Game Score: NU 12 – Hoosiers 18

Play of the Game: Mick runs a draw play on 3rd and 13

Player to Watch: Will Hunter play?

Warrior to Watch: Bag after the 3rd quarter.

Other Game to Watch: Super boring week. WLOCP it is.

Prediction Caturday – Iowa

The ‘Cats got trounced by Ohio State last Friday, but it’s Homecoming week so who cares? Iowa comes into town in what should be a low scoring defensive battle. Let’s see who the Warriors have in this one.

TRENT

Game Summary: The ‘Cats offense has scored 38 points in our four conference games this year, only putting up more than 10 points once. Iowa’s got a good defense and I see this trend continuing. 

 

Our defense is better than it looked against Ohio State last week – the Buckeyes just had way too many athletes and torched our secondary. Justin Fields is legit – OSU looks like the best team in the country right now. We should hold Iowa’s offense in check – this will be a very low scoring game as the 37 over/under indicates. Get ready for some boring ass B1G football.

 

In Fitz’s press conference Monday, when asked about the offense’s struggles he facetiously mimed looking under and around the podium for some kind of antidote that would fix everything. Well I don’t see any magic beans coming this week, Jack. 

 

Game Score: NU 5 – Iowa 13

 

Play of the Game: Gaziano sack for a safety

 

Player to Watch: Bowser. My boy ran pretty well last week against OSU.

 

Warrior to Watch: Hack. It’s his birthday week!

 

Other Game to Watch: ND – Mich

A DAY

Game Summary: What can I say. Hard to win football games if you can’t score. Obviously the offense is a dumpster fire, but we haven’t had any defensive scores this season either. Without a pick six Saturday, I don’t see any chance of us winning either. Let me be cleaya, Iowa is not good, but unless Jesus takes the wheel at OC this week, I don’t see how we can possibly beat them. Fire Mick.

thisisfine.png

Game Score: Iowa 17 – NU 9 — Did we botch a two point conversion or kick 3 FGs? Only time will tell. Under bettors rejoice.

Play of the Game: Some sort of turnover forced by the defense? Please boys. We need ya.

Player to Watch: Riley Lees – hoping he trots out as the starting QB this week. Hell, he played in HS, how much worse could he be?

Warrior to Watch: Trent – He’s firing up the van bright and early. Will he be able to handle our brand new dish?

Other Game to Watch:Auburn @ LSU (Geaux Tigers)

ROGER

Last week went as expected.

This week is likely to do the same.
Game Summary: NU will have their fewest first downs of the year in this one. There’s a pro and a con to that. 
Let’s start with the obvious con…. minimal first downs means our offense isn’t doing anything. But, our offense is trash and we already knew that. So, that’s a con that’s like a neutral. We’ll take it.
The pro…. it’s going to be a close game. So, we won’t be picking up garbage late game first downs in this one.
Iowa isn’t exactly explosive. This game will resemble the Wisconsin one except I expect us to be even more conservative (if that’s possible) and avoid scoring 14 on ourselves.

Game Score: Iowa 13 – NU 7

Play of the Game: NU picks off a terrible Stanley toss and returns it inside the 10 setting up our only score of the game.

Player to Watch: the D Line. Kent and Brown are out for this one. The D is our only hope.

Warrior to Watch: Trent..he’s in charge.

Other Game to Watch: Auburn @ LSU… LSU is playing with fire each week with a very suspect defense.

PAUL

Game Summary: Cats Lose

Game Score: Iowa 15 – NU 8

Play of the Game: The Iowa kneel-down to end the 

Player to Watch: No one.

Warrior to Watch: Trent

Other Game to Watch: Wisco to get blown out by OSU in the Horseshoe.

HACK

Cats 69 – Iowa 42

The Trevor Bauer score

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary: oof

Game Score: Iowa 19 – NU 6

Play of the Game: THE VAN STARTS (again)

Player to Watch: Bowser back?

Warrior to Watch: Gotta be bag

Other Game to Watch: Wisco gets further exposed by the buckeyes. 

Prediction Friday – Ohio State

usatsi_11773093-2

The ‘Cats take on Ohio State in Evanston on a … FRIDAY NIGHT? Too bad the Keg of Evanston is closed, RIP. Luckily, it did not go gentle into that good night.

The Warriors’ contingent may be small for this game, but boy is it mighty. We’re going to need it as the Buckeyes come to town in what should be an overwhelming contingent of red. Let’s check out our predictions for the game.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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TRENT

Game Summary: I got a feeling. Just got a feeling. The ‘Cats are 1-4, morale is quite bad, and the fan base is calling for McCall’s head. We are 25+ point underdogs on Friday at home against a top three Ohio State team, who you could argue has looked the best of any team in the country to-date. It’s the largest spread against us since Notre Dame in ’95. We all know what happened then.

No one thinks we will be remotely competitive in this game. Our defense is great, our offense is atrocious. How will we score any points against OSU? Even if we can hold their offense in check, we still need to outscore them (that’s typically how you win a football game). How in the world will that happen?

The past two years, OSU has had a weird conference loss on the road. Two years ago, they lost 55-24 at Iowa. Last year, they got blown out 49-20 at Purdue. The ‘Cats ain’t putting up 50 points in this one, I can tell you that. But, this has a similar feel in that it’s a weird conference game on the road.

It’s a Friday night game coming after a bye – I haven’t done any research but not sure we’ve ever played a game on a Friday before. It’s a weird situation. Ohio State will be looking ahead as they play a top 10 Wisconsin team next week.

Nothing against Ryan Day, who seems so far like he’s a great coach, but he simply isn’t Urban Meyer. He hasn’t been in a close game yet – neither has Justin Fields at OSU. It’s not the easiest thing for a team that’s been on cruise control the whole year to all of a sudden be thrown into a pressure packed situation in what should be a raucous Ryan Field atmosphere. Raucous for which team, I know not (if I had to guess it’ll be 60-70% OSU fans), but raucous nonetheless. If this game is somehow close after three quarters those Buckeyes’ butt cheeks will tighten. You bet that Fitz has had this game circled since last year – not just because it’s Ohio State, but also because they beat us in the B1G title game. He wants revenge (we’ve never beaten OSU with Fitz as head coach).

I subscribe to the George Costanza theory that if nothing is working for you, try doing the opposite. The best thing for those who care about the long term health of the ‘Cats this year is for us to get our doors blown off and then have a poor rest of the year, which should then lead to some coaching changes (cough McCall cough). If you look at it that way, it’s not necessarily a great thing for us to beat OSU, as that will give more reason for Fitz to not make any changes. As ‘Cats fans we can never have nice things, and it feels like we’ll be unsatisfied after this year – one way or another. We’re engrained as a fanbase to expect the ‘Cats to do something stupid and screw it up – the short term gain from beating OSU here would actually likely work against us in the long run.

Continuing down the opposite track – the ‘Cats are just a weird team and tend to do the opposite of what we expect. Every year it seems like we have a very bad loss – whether it’s Illinois State or Akron (I wonder if this is something in our DNA dating back to the loss against Miami of Ohio in ’95). Then we’ll typically beat a ranked team we shouldn’t. We zig when people think we’re going to zag.

Well this feels like a zig-zag game to me. There is no rational reason for this pick other than the fact that there’s no rational reason for this pick. Does that make any sense?

I got a feeling. Go ‘Cats.

Game Score: NU 24 – OSU 21

Play of the Game: ‘Cats get a defensive TD as Travis Whillock scoops and scores a fumble. Northwestern must score either on defense or special teams to be competitive in this game.

Player to Watch: I’ve got a feeling…that Hunter will start.

Warrior to Watch: Paul is in town for his first tailgate of the season.

Other Game to Watch: During the course of our tailgate on Friday, we’ll have a few appetizer games – Marshall @ FAU on CBSSN (5:30pm kick) and Pitt @ Cuse on ESPN (6:00pm kick). I’m not 100% sure we get CBSSN but we will find out. These will quite literally be the other games we’ll watch as we drink beer amongst a sea of red.

I’ll also go to the NFL, where it’ll be Pats @ Jets on Monday night. Fellow Patriots fans…beware…

 

ROGER

The Cats didn’t win last week, but they didn’t lose.

Unfortunately, the team actually has to play this week. Against Ohio State no less.

The Buckeyes have looked like one of the best teams in the country thus far. For whatever reason, they seem to have cleaned up the mental lapses that were all too common under Urban Meyer. So, I don’t expect them to not show up this week or any week down the stretch.

Game Summary: I think NU’s defense will put up a respectable fight. We’re going to get burned on the perimeter and we’re probably going to have issues setting the edge, but pretty much everyone does against Ohio State.

Sadly, a “respectable fight” for NU’s defense is going to look a lot worse in the box score. Why? Well, Ohio State is probably going to have an average starting field position somewhere around midfield. The Chicago Bears defense would struggle in that situation.

I don’t expect the offense to get 10 first downs in this game. We’ll score a garbage touchdown late to avoid getting shutout.

Move on to next week. Then, move on to next year.

Game Score: Ohio State 45 – NU 7

Play of the Game: Gaziano blindsides Smith and forces a fumble. This provides the Cats with their best field position of the game (Aidan throws a pick 2 plays later).

Player to Watch: Aidan… I assume Hunter won’t play because there’s no point in killing his confidence even more. If it’s Aidan, he should just go out there and sling it.

Warrior to Watch: Paul. Welcome back to Evanston, Paul. Too bad most of the crew is MIA this weekend.

Other Game to Watch: Not sure… is there anything good this weekend?

 

A DAY

Game Summary: It will look respectable in the first quarter. Maybe 7-0 OSU. But then things are gonna get out of hand. Fast. The defense will basically spend the entire game on the field, and eventually are going to get beat. Should be safe to turn off at half.

Game Score: OSU 45 – NU 3

Play of the Game: The lone field goal. Huzzah!

Player to Watch: Fire Mick McCall (dot) com

Warrior to Watch: Paul. Hands down. He’s from Ohio. He’s at the game. He’s gonna have a few cold ones. Let the boys play.

Other Game to Watch: Let’s say Michigan vs Penn State, because I love watching Michigan lose.

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary: Lolololololol

Game Score: OSU 40 – NU 6

Play of the Game: The Van starts!

Player to Watch: Aidan Smith. F*ck it, I’m going deep.

Warrior to Watch: Paul. I hear he’s gonna try to set the West Lot record for White Claw consumption.

Other Game to Watch: Let’s say Michigan vs Penn State, because I love watching Penn State lose.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: Hopefully some stellar D from the Cats. Hopefully improving to below average for the offense and Mick McCall. Cats keep it close, but can’t pull it off.

Game Score: OSU 23 – NU 13

Play of the Game: Strip sack in the first half in OSU territory by Paddy Fisher.

Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher

Warrior to Watch: Am I allowed to say me? Because I’m gonna say me. You can find me with the White Claw wizard staff.

Other Game to Watch: It’s Friday night, so I guess the Yankees Astros??

 

Z VON

Cats lose 42-8

 

HACK

Cats win 6-4

Prediction Caturday – Bye Week

tenor

A close loss last Saturday against Nebraska sets up a tough game this week as the ‘Cats take on a Bye. While not known to put up points, Bye has a very stout defense, giving up zero touchdowns on the year. Let’s see how some of the Warriors see this one playing out.

 

ROGER

Last week was one of the ugliest displays of offensive football that you’ll ever see. Both teams were responsible for that. Nebraska is as far from “back” as NU is from the Rose Bowl.

Frankly, as dependent as Nebraska’s entire team is on Adrian Martinez, there was absolutely no excuse for the Cats to lose the game once Martinez got knocked with the score tied.

But….. Mick.

That brings us to this week’s matchup. Bye.

If history means anything, then the Cats should take care of business this week. Bye has never defeated the ‘Cats. It’s usually the week after Bye where Fitz’s boys struggle. One can only surmise that Bye’s physicality wears us down for the following week.

Unfortunately, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bye isn’t going down so easily this week. Defensively, we should be stout as always. It’s hard to see Bye scoring on us. But, I’m not sure where we’re going to find any points either. This game could go on for days…

Game Summary: RRPP. That’s run, run, pass, punt for those unfamiliar with the abbreviation. Mick loves the RRPP. Sources say that the ‘Cats offense has even mastered the RRPP against air. Knowing that, I don’t expect any movement on offense here because Bye’s defense is basically air.

Game Score: Bye 0 – NU 0

Play of the Game: After the ‘Cats complete their 27th series of RRPP against air, the officials decide to call this game the first tie since 1996. They can’t watch anymore. Neither can we.

Player to Watch: The QB… all 3 (including TJ) have been effective with the RRPP this year. Who is it going to be for this one?

Warrior to Watch: Z Von – put him in at QB. He tried it at halftime a few years ago.

Other Game to Watch: Florida at LSU…. Florida has looked absolutely terrible at times this year. Yet, they are undefeated with a recent win over Auburn. They still have a daunting stretch here with LSU and UGA, but I’m starting to worry about the Gators contending.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: Smoke meats. Drink beer. Be glad NU isn’t playing.

Game Score: N – 0 – 0 – N

Play of the Game: The brisket is perfect

Player to Watch: Pfeffer. The smokemaster.

Warrior to Watch: Day. He has some new art to enjoy this week.

Other Game to Watch: Penn State @ Iowa. Go Hawkeyes!!

 

TRENT

The ‘Cats are off this week – will be good to rest up before what should be a lovely home visit from Ohio State next week. I find a bye week as a nice time for reflection, soul searching and grumbling about McCall. It’s time to get nice and drunk and forget about our hapless offense. Enjoy the time off until the Buckeyes beat our brains in next Friday.

Game Summary: The ‘Cats get into some good clean American fun this weekend. So much fun, that the bye sneaks up on us and wins a close one. While our defense holds tough and holds Bye to just 1 point somehow, McCall McCall McCall and we score 0 points. It’s a cold and windy weekend, causing Kuhbander to miss a chip shot and do us in.

Game Score: NU 0 – Bye 1

Play of the Game: Bye finds a way to score 1 point.

Player to Watch: Bowser. He’s got the weekend off and will be gallivanting with Princess Peach to another castle.

Warrior to Watch: Hack. Big weekend in store.

Other Game to Watch: USC – Notre Dame. Fight on!

Prediction Friday – Nebraska

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The ‘Cats lost a closer-than-expected battle in Wisconsin last week, but looked better…at least on defense. The offense, not so much.

Next up is a trip to Lincoln to take on Nebraska in another road B1G West matchup. The Huskers are sitting at 3-2, fresh off a beating at the hands of Ohio State. The Warriors are a bit split on who will take this contest, as well as which QB we’ll see in the game for the ‘Cats. On to the picks…

 

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nebraska-logo nebraska-logo nebraska-logo nebraska-logo nulogo nebraska-logo nulogo

 

ROGER:

I said something last week about NU’s speed option on 4th and goal at the 1 being one of Mickey’s finest hours.

Then Saturday occurred. He and Fitz likely had more “finest hours” in that game than we’ll ever see again.

Our offense is historically bad. You think that’s an overstatement? What if I told you we were on pace to have the third worst passing efficiency in the 21st century…. and 2017 Army was one of the two teams that were worse? What if I told you that our total offensive efficiency is 129th out of 130 FBS teams? What if I told you that Hunter Johnson has the worst QBR in FBS? Sadly, I can tell you all of that. Because it’s all true at the moment.

Game Summary: Thankfully we aren’t playing either the Wisconsin or Michigan State defense this week. That said, Nebraska’s defense is actually much improved despite getting mauled by Ohio State last week (don’t worry… we get to do the same thing in a few weeks). Their offense has, surprisingly, been a bit of an issue. The Corn people are chalking this up to a young offensive line that can’t get out of its own way. Sound familiar?

Given all of that, I expect NU’s defense to keep the Cats in this one despite the complete lack of offense we’ll see. Unfortunately, Nebraska’s offense is likely to be more dangerous against our defense than Wisconsin’s. At the end of the day, they have a dynamic QB and that generally hurts us.

This one will be a slug fest until Nebraska finds a rhythm. Then, it’s over because we can’t score.

Game Score: Nebraska 24 – NU 13

Play of the Game: I’m going to go with Aidan “Atkinson” Smith taking the first offensive snap and completing a pass for positive yards (Mick threw it on first down?!?!?!).

Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher. He needs to contain Martinez.

Warrior to Watch: Paul. Why not?

Other Game to Watch: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech. Has anyone seen OK State’s running back, Chuba Hubbard? He has 900 yards in 4 games against FBS competition (that’s not counting OK State’s game against McNeese State). He ran for a smooth 296 last week against a ranked K State team. Big12 defenses or not… this kid deserves some attention. Look for him to tack on 250+ in this one.

 

TRENT

The ‘Cats played a better game last week against Wisconsin in Madison, but still came away with a L. It’s becoming abundantly clear that our defense is good and our offense is bad. Our defense only gave up 10 points to the Badgers, whereas our offense gave up 14 and only scored 15.

Fitz and McCall made some very strange two point conversion calls which had me going apoplectic during the game, and even upon further explanation really just don’t make sense. I think it’s funny that Fitz is always touting that ‘stats are for losers’ but then said after the game that he could ‘teach a class on analytics’. Can’t have it both ways, bro.

Our offense is putrid, bad, stinky, horrible. Aidan “Atkinson” Smith came in and looked better than Hunter Johnson. The fan base has about had it with McCall, and good riddance. If someone at my office repeatedly turns in poor performance for 10+ years straight, do you know what happens? They don’t stick around. It’s absurd that a D1 football program (in an industry where job security is much lower than an average job) won’t subscribe to this same philosophy, but instead stubbornly leans on ‘loyalty’ and an F you attitude towards the fan base as rationale for not making changes. These guys are getting paid a lot of money. There have to be consequences for not performing, just as there are on the field when Hunter was benched for Aidan against MSU. You have to hold your coaching staff to the same standards that you hold your players.

Game Summary: Rant just about over, let’s focus on the game this week. I’ve had this game circled all offseason as a loss – Nebraska just seems like a horrible matchup for us. We typically perform poorly against mobile QBs. Not that Nebraska is good or anything – they were severely overrated going into the year. However, I think they’ll score just enough points in this game, and our offense, well, McCall. Enough said.

Game Score: NU 21 – Nebraska 24

Play of the Game: Aidan “Atkinson” Smith throws a screen pass to Drake Anderson for a TD.

Player to Watch: Bowser. Is he healthy?

Warrior to Watch: Paul, he’s got some Husker in his blood.

Other Game to Watch: Iowa – Michigan. Should be a good one.

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Summary: Defense good. Offense bad.

Game Score: NU 13 – Nebraska 27

Play of the Game: Chuck kicks an extra point!

Player to Watch: Whoever the h*ck is at QB, in perpetuity

Warrior to Watch: Our resident Cornhusker, Huettner

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State – Michigan State. It’ll be interesting for a quarter before Ohio State pulls away.

 

A DAY

I think InsideNU described our passing attack perfectly, “Not Great, Bob!”. That said, our defense is pretty, pretty, pretty good. Nebraska was ranked to start the season. So were we (at least in one poll). Both teams have been exposed as frauds. Who will prove to the the worse team? I’m going ‘Cats. Big Red, or perhaps ‘Lil Red, will be able to score just enough (which still isn’t that much) to pull out the win. Both fanbases will want to pull their eyes out by the end of the game.

Game Score: Nebraska 20 – NU 17

Play of the Game: We finally get a defensive score. Pick 6 from Paddington “Bear” Fisher.

Player to Watch: Bente Baekers from NU Field Hockey. She’s got 16 goals on the season for a top 5 program. She’s scored 1/2 as many points as our offense has against teams not named UNLV.

Warrior to Watch: Let’s go Hack. 3PM start, how will he respond? Will he be 4 ‘Claws deep by kickoff?

Other Game to Watch: Friday Night special UCF @ Cincy. Let’s go [Bear]cats!

 

ZVON

Game Summary: Cats win a weird one. Aidan SMITTY Smith smiths a winner out of these cats.

Game Score: Cats 25 – Nebraska 23

Warrior to Watch: Sources say Hack may not even be awake for a 3pm kick.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: Nebraska is trash. So is our offense. Battle of the Defenses commence. I likely won’t even be watching this game as I’ll be playing NYC tour guide for my wonderful mother this Saturday.

Game Score: NU 14 – NEB (NOT NU) 10

Play of the Game: 50 yard screen pass TD to Bowser (is he still injured? idk) due to a missed tackle.

Player to Watch: Paddington “Bear” Fisher. I’m with Andy on this. Should be ripe for a nice INT this game.

Warrior to Watch: HACK. Raab’s in town so bound to go wild.

Other Game to Watch: Browns on are MNF this week (2nd time this year already!) Let the winning streak continue!

 

HACK:

Game Score: Nebraska 24 – NU 10

Play of the Game: 74 yard run for a guy by the name of Anderson – deja vu for the fan base.

Player to Watch: Hunter “Killer” Johnson – Can he make Mick look smart?

Warrior to Watch: Trent – T Bag is a movement

Other Game to Watch: Iowa v Michigan – I don’t think either of these teams will be ranked by season’s end.

 

Prediction Caturday – Wisconsin

FISHER

The ‘Cats had a major setback last week in a home drubbing against Michigan State, but that didn’t preclude the Warriors from having a good time and getting after it in the West Lot. They say you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying, and plenty of laughs were had.

This week Northwestern faces a daunting test on the road in Madison against a top 10 Badger team. Wisconsin is a huge favorite in this one after rolling Michigan last week. Let’s see how the Warriors think this one will play out.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
wisconsinbadgerslogo wisconsinbadgerslogo wisconsinbadgerslogo wisconsinbadgerslogo wisconsinbadgerslogo nulogo wisconsinbadgerslogo

TRENT

Game Summary: Yikes. The ‘Cats looked awful last week in a loss to Michigan State. The offense had no creativity and it seemed like a miracle every time we got a first down. Hunter got benched. It’s almost refreshing that the ‘Cats are back to being bad again – for you youngsters out there it’s a good reminder that the last four years of ‘Cats football has not been the norm. Clayton Thorson ain’t looking so bad now, eh? We miss his leadership.

This season has gone downhill quickly – the question is, can we rebound? We’ve got an absolutely brutal slate coming up these next few games. Badgers and Huskers and Buckeyes (oh my!). If we lose all three of these games we’re likely not making a bowl this year.

I simply don’t see it this week against the Badgers. MSU could have beaten us by even more last week if they’d continued to run the ball – they did so with such success that I was puzzled every time they threw it. Without looking at any stats, I’m sure the Badgers have one of the best running offenses in the country, and Jonathan Taylor is a beast and Heisman hopeful. The ‘Cats are going to get run all over in this game – while we have good D ends, the middle of our D line is suspect and Wisco’s O line will push us around.

This is the largest spread against us (+24) that I can remember in the past five years, and for good reason. We’re going to get shellacked. The only silver lining I can find is that I don’t need to stress about the outcome of this game! Time to get nice and toasted on Saturday. I don’t think we’re going to score.

Game Score: NU 0 – Wisconsin 35

Play of the Game: The ‘Cats make it to Madison (one of my favorite cities in America) and show up for the game.

Player to Watch: Alex Miller. Can he help plug the middle against Taylor?

Warrior to Watch: Z Von. Will he join the Warriors this week to watch?

Other Game to Watch: Minnesota at Purdue. Why not?

 

ROGER

I’ve seen a lot of poor play calls over the past decade. But, I’m not sure that anything tops the 4th and goal speed option call this past Saturday. That may have been Mickey’s finest hour.

Our offense is objectively terrible and Mickey and friends aren’t doing anything to help the cause with the aforementioned shit. Our defense isn’t terrible, but nobody seems particularly interested in tackling.

So, why would we expect anything different this weekend? Wisconsin looks pretty damn good, right?

………..

Wisconsin is good. But, I’m not ready to anoint them after the garbage offense they trotted out on the field every week last season. I need to see a few more ass kickings before I do that. They have the same personnel at every key position. This team – led by the same Jack Coan and Jonathan Taylor – couldn’t get out of their own way against NU last season. They looked like a JV bunch. You could have had Grayhack out there playing Mike and he would have blown up that offense.

Clearly, Wisconsin is improved and they are humming right now. Their improvement on the defensive side of the ball may be the bigger difference in their success though. That spells trouble for Mickey’s offense.

We won’t move the ball at all. But, this one will be closer than you think.

Game Summary: If Taylor is ripping off 10 yard runs like there’s nothing to it, then you can ignore everything above. I don’t think he will initially, though. Wisconsin will have to throw it every so often and I’m looking for some suspect accuracy from Jack. Look for some air mails and a pick or two in the first half. That will keep this one closer than it should be when our offense has less than 60 yards at halftime.

Eventually, Wisconsin will find some success on the ground. They’ll get a comfortable 20 – 0 lead and NU will score a garbage TD to keep the score respectable.

Game Score: NU 7 – Wisconsin 20

Play of the Game: Paddy Fisher picks off Jack Coan in the first quarter.

Player to Watch: Offensive Line. Can they do anything to open a hole and/or give Hunter some time?

Warrior to Watch: Paul. What’s he doing for the game?

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State at Nebraska. I was going to say “None. The contenders have no chance of losing again this week”, but then I remembered that Ohio State got ambushed against a very mediocre Purdue team last year in a night game. They need to avoid losing to trash teams (Purdue last year and Iowa the year before) if they want to get back into the playoff. I suspect they will, but you never know how prepared they’ll be with a bunch of guys that didn’t come to play school.

 

DOC ROCHE

It’s been, what, seven years since Northwestern’s had a competent offense? Kain platooning with Trevor, handing off to Ricky Football?

The offense is horrible, and Fitz is getting all defensive when a reporter asked a routine football question.

EVERYTHING IS FINE NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

At least the Northwestern’s uninspired performance helped me stop caring about the parking situation.

Game Summary: The game’s already over.

Game Score: NU 6 – Wisconsin 33

Play of the Game: Jump Around

Player to Watch: Hunter.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. He’s back in town for the game!

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State at Nebraska. Northwestern’s next two opponents square off.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: This is going to be ugly and I probably will turn this game off after the 1st quarter.

Game Score: NU 6 – Wisconsin 45

Play of the Game: The Wisco kneel down to end the game, putting us all out of our misery.

Player to Watch: Who knows.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. I heard he may be hosting the watch party and his roommate is a big Badger fan & alum.

Other Game to Watch: OSU at NEB. Will be hilarious how GameDay is here and my Huskers will get blown out.

 

HACK

Game Summary: The Cats are 10-8 under Pat Fitgerald when they are over double-digit dogs, not against the spread, straight up. There is no other reason for this pick, other than Michigan sucks.

Game Score: NU 28 – Wisconsin 24

Play of the Game: One of the pick-sixes by the brothers Miller. Yes, two defensive linemen will score touchdowns.

Player to Watch: Mick McCall – There’s a rumor going around on the Twitter that Mick installs plays that he can personally execute. This would explain the precipitous decline in Northwestern’s O as he enters his mid sixties…

Warrior to Watch: Roger, he’s leaving the house!

Other Game to Watch: Bears- Vikings : Matchup of the two most mediocre qbs in the NFL and two of its top 5 defenses! Bet the over!

 

Z VON

Wisco 31 – NU 6

 

ANDY DAY

Game Summary: We might score. I think 2 field goals sounds about right. Both in the second half, naturally. If we do win this, I wouldn’t be blown away, because this is looking like a season where we suck but pull one completely out of our asses. However, I don’t think that will be this game. I think offensive struggles continue and a balanced Wisconsin attack gets to the endzone early and often.

Game Score: Wisconsin 35 – NU 6

Play of the Game: Whichever FG is longer.

Player to Watch: Mick McCall. Forever and always.

Warrior to Watch: Trent “I’m down to get v drunk” Stafford

Other Game to Watch: Lets say USC vs UW for all my west-coasters out there.