Northwestern returns a host of exciting players from last season with a chance to improve on an improbable 10 win campaign in 2015
Week 1: NU 16 – Stanford 6
I’m sure everyone remembers this game, but maybe you didn’t realize at the time just how incredible the result was. Here are some interesting stats:
Stanford Points Scored: 6
In the other 13 contests they played, Stanford averaged 40.2 points per game. Their lowest scoring total (other than against NU) was 30 points. To say this data point is an outlier is an understatement.
Christian McCaffrey Rushing Yards: 66
Other than one play where McCaffrey broke off for 27 yards, the ‘Cats dominated Stanford’s run game, holding them to a measly 85 yards on the ground for the game. McCaffrey averaged 150.2 yards per game against teams not named Northwestern.
Week 2: NU 41 – Eastern Illinois 0
Nothing spectacular here. Northwestern got the job done against the lone FCS opponent on its schedule. The highlight was a 71 yard pick-6 by Matt Harris in the 3rd quarter.
Week 3: NU 19 – Duke 10
Northwestern’s offense was outright awful in this game, and we again managed to hold on by a thread as our defense came up huge yet again. Want to see something disgusting? Check out Clayton Thorson’s passing stats from his first road game as the starter:
Northwestern managed just 57 yards of offense in the first half, and it looked as though our only opportunity to score a touchdown would be a defensive touchdown. However, the first Wildcat touchdown actually came from the 3rd phase in the form of a 97 yard kickoff return by Solomon Vault (oh, and of course the PAT was blocked). Other than a Warren Long 55 yard TD run, the offense looked totally incompetent for the entirety of the game.
Week 4: NU 24 – Ball State 19
Clayton threw a career high 3 TDs this game. Fun fact, he only threw 7 total TDs last year, meaning in the remaining 12 contests he only threw 4 TDs. For those counting at home, that’s a third of a touchdown per game. #ThatsNotALot
Week 5: NU 27 – Minnesota 0
This game was freaking awesome. Our offense wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t painful to watch either. Clayton got robbed on an overturned TD pass and we held a B1G offense (albeit a bad one) to zero points and 193 yards. Needless to say, spirits were pretty high after this one.
Week 6: Michigan 38 – Northwestern 0
Boy this was brutal. The game was over before the first play from scrimmage, after Jehu Chesson returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. NU blew it’s only chance to score by missing a 42 yard FG attempt. Michigan outplayed and outcoached us, and it broke my heart, just as Week 6 has done many times in the past.
Week 7: Iowa 40 – Northwestern 10
Well, at least we scored in this one. Despite the awful scoreline, this one wasn’t a total blowout until sometime in the second half (it was 16 -10 at half). The offense just couldn’t get anything going and our defense ran out of gas after being on the field for way too long for a second week in a row.
Week 8: Northwestern 30 – Nebraska 28
This game had a number of ups (Nick VanHoose pick-6, Clayton Thorson 68 run which set up a TD) as well as some downs (Safety on the first play of a drive, a lot of punts) but the ‘Cats came out with a W.
Week 10: Northwestern 23 – Penn State 21
What a terrible game to watch. After a flurry of offense in the second quarter which lead to three touchdowns, a 13 point lead, and of course a missed XP, the game seemed all but over. That was, until we didn’t score again until there were 8 seconds left in the game. The missed XP almost cost NU the game, but Jack Mitchell was able to redeem himself with a 35 yard FG.
Week 11: Northwestern 21 – Purdue 14
Nothing to see here. Zach Oliver saw some action as the ‘Cats managed to eek past the worst team in the B1G.
Week 12: Northwestern 13 – Wisconsin 7
In what was one of the wildest and weirdest endings to a football game, Northwestern managed to somehow come out on top. I’ve never felt so strange and disappointed after a win. Wisconsin had a game tying TD overturned twice, then there was a sack which appeared to end the game, then there was a spike, then a long pause while the refs figured everything out, then Wisconsin’s backup QB came in to finally lose the game for them. Our defense was spectacular as always, however.
Week 13: Northwestern 24 – Illinois 14
A few highlights here and there, but again, nothing special beating a team that was pretty darn bad. Roger got kicked out of the game, however (unjustly I might add).
Bowl Game: Tennessee 45 – Northwestern 6
Embarrassing. That’s all I’ll say. Mick McCall needs to figure out how to get this offense moving this year.
All in all, a pretty wild and exciting season despite the fact that our offense was generally unbearable to watch. Our defense on the other hand was unreal, and I can’t wait to see what they can do in 2016. Look for more content as the ‘Cats wrap up camp and the season rapidly approaches! Go ‘Cats!