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.

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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

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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

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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 Friday – Michigan State

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The ‘Cats take on MSU this week in our first B1G matchup of the year. It’s a big one and NU has taken down Sparty the last three times the teams have met. Are the Warriors expecting a fourth straight victory this week?

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

 

 

TRENT

Game Summary: So the ‘Cats took care of business at home against a lackluster UNLV team. Hunter Johnson showed signs of life and made some nice deep throws, though his WRs let him down a few times with drops. He still looked uncomfortable but seemed to get his legs under him as the game went on, and threw his first TD pass as a Wildcat to an open JJ Jefferson.

 

Unfortunately this week is a much tougher test. Comparing UNLV’s defense to Michigan State’s is like comparing a sand castle to a medieval castle. We will struggle to move the ball, and I guarantee they’ll sell out to stop the run and force us to pass. Is Hunter ready to take the reins in a B1G game? I’m not so sure.

 

The good news is I believe the coaching staff sat Bowser last week to heal up and get ready for a bruising B1G schedule. While Drake Anderson looked nice and shifty last week, he won’t be able to have that same level of success against a B1G defense. This is the time for Bowser Ball and I expect him to get 25+ carries in this game. If he can give us a semblance of a running game against Sparty, we’ll have a shot. If he can’t, and Hunter needs to carry us through the air, I fear we’re in trouble.

 

It’s a bummer that MSU lost last week to ASU. Not only do they lose their ranking (I like it when we play ranked teams), but the heartbreaking manner in which they lost will make them even more motivated to come out swinging this week. MSU is favored by 10 and the over under is a measly 40 points…yet I still think that’s far too high. We’ll keep it close and this will be a typical low scoring B1G game. We’ve beaten Sparty three times in a row, but I just can’t see us getting to four.
 

 

Game Score: NU 10 – MSU 13

 

Play of the Game: Bowser takes it in for a 5 yard score

 

Player to Watch: Bowser – will he be healthy enough to shoulder a big load? Hunter – can he play competent football against a B1G defense?

 

Warrior to Watch: Rankin. Feel like he’s got it in for MSU.

 

Other Game to Watch: Michigan @ Wisco. Wisconsin has outscored its opponents 110-0 in the first two games…let’s see how they handle their first real test in the Wolverines.

 

DOC ROCHE

 

I always respect the amount of time/thought that Trent puts into his posts. Dear readers, have faith that I will do no such thing.

 

GET EXCITED FOR A BATTLE OF TWO UNINSPIRING TEAMS. BIG TEN FOOTBALL AT ITS FINEST.

 

Game Score: ‘Cats 17 – MSU 14

 

Play of the Game: Hunter throws a touchdown!

 

Player to Watch: It’s the ‘ol HJ until proven otherwise

 

Warrior to Watch: West Coast Warrior Andy Day making his first West Lot appearance!

 

Other Game to Watch: Agree with Bag here. Michigan/Wisconsin.

 

ANDY DAY

 

Game Summary:  Clearly going to be a high scoring affair… not. This game will be decided by the kickers, and luckily MSUs didn’t look so hot last week against ASU. I see a singular TD in the future for the ‘Cats, and it’s going to be a defensive one. Hopefully our bend-but-don’t-break defense can keep us in this one.
 
 
Game Score: ‘Cats 13 – MSU 9

 

Play of the Game: Pick 6 for Paddington “Bear” Fischer

 

Player to Watch: Mick McCall. Again. Always.

 

Warrior to Watch: Going to say Roger but only because it’d be weird to pick myself. He’s my co-captain for setup this week.

 

Other Game to Watch: Lot of good ones this week, but to add some flavor I’ll go with a sneaky one – Cal @ Ole Miss. Should be a close one.

 

ROGER

 

Wow! Roche and Andy taking the cats to win!

Well… I’m not, Doug. As much as I would like to pick us to win, I don’t see enough (read: any) offense here against a top flight defense. It won’t take much, but I don’t think we have much.

 

All of that said, Hunter showed us something last week with his arm and his ability to avoid a sack. He definitely throws an elite ball and has decent pocket presence. Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t make a good quarterback. He struggles with consistent accuracy, he doesn’t have a great grasp of Mick’s fantastic offense yet and his offensive line and receiving corps are suspect.

 

Game Summary: Read above. This game is going to be low scoring. The Cats defense is pretty good. Williams and Newsome took terrible angles on 2 plays and made UNLV look respectable. But, the reality is that the ‘Cats defense will anchor the team all year. They did so against Stanford. They did so against UNLV. They’ll do so in this game as well.

 

We aren’t going to shut out Sparty, though. At the very least, they’ll be able to get some points from the field position battle (though, their kicker doesn’t have a lot of confidence at the moment).

 

The wind is supposed to be strong on Saturday mid-day. The punters will be pivotal in this one. I think the best scoring opportunities will come when each team has the wind at their backs. Look for Sparty to take advantage of a few of those drives via some mild-trickery (end arounds, flea flickers, etc.).

 

The ‘Cats have killed Sparty the last several years with their use of the superback. Unfortunately, we don’t appear to have one of those anymore. So, I’m curious to see what we’ll do against a defense that doesn’t allow anything on the ground. I suspect we won’t mix it up much… hence my score:
 

 

Game Score: MSU 13 – NU 3

 

Play of the Game: Chuck makes a 38 yard field goal to get the ‘Cats on the board in the 3rd quarter.

 

Player to Watch: Offensive line – will they open the occasional hole and provide any sort of protection for Hunter?

 

Warrior to Watch: Andy. It’s his home opener. Something tells me he’s not a fan of the new parking regulations. Could he ignore the rules, head for the corner of Ashland and Isabella and claim “no brake pads, no such thing as last”?

 

Other Game to Watch: None. Our playoff contenders have no chance of losing yet again this week. Yes, I’m dismissing ND’s chances at UGA.

 

ZVON

 

Cats 27, MSU 21

 

HACK

 

Game Summary:

 

Punt, run run run Punt run run pass Punt run run punt… Safety MSU… Cats hit a field goal as time expires.

 

 
Game Score: NU 3 – MSU 2

 

Play of the Game:Gaziano sacks Lewerke for a loss of 23

 

Player to Watch: Drake Anderson – Is he a weapon?

 

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day- He’s a man on a mission to drink some Burgandy’s.

 

Other Game to Watch: ND vs Georgia – GO DAWGS

 

PAUL

 

Game Summary: Cats give up a defensive TD and a long 70 yard run, but otherwise looks solid. Sadly, our offense doesn’t come prepared and the play calling STINKS. Cats never reach the endzone and settle for 3 FGs.

 

Game Score: NU 9 – MSU 17

 

Play of the Game: 45 yard FG to end the half

 

Player to Watch: Mick McCall – how bad will the play calling get against a actual defense this week.

 

Warrior to Watch: Hack – will he make it to the tailgate before 9am??

 

Other Game to Watch: Michigan @ Wisco. Great inter-league B1G matchup here. Rooting for Sconnny.

Prediction Friday – UNLV

Sept18Blog1_NU2

The ‘Cats open at home tomorrow against the UNLV Runnin Rebels, and the Warriors are fired up to take the West Lot by storm and christen another season in Evanston. The weather is going to be beautiful and the beer will be flowing like wine. No surprise who the Warriors are picking in this one, though we’re split on how close the outcome will be.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo N/A

 

ROGER

Game Summary: We’ve all seen this shit before (Akron, Illinois State, Western Michigan…. sorry, that team was terrible even if they ran the table in the MAC). I’m not sure why we expect this to be any different. UNLV is obviously terrible, but that doesn’t mean a damn thing.

NU’s offense is 129th out of 130 in adjusted efficiency. Hunter Johnson has the worst passer in FBS. Simply put, our offense was terrible against a VERY average Stanford team who got smoked by a VERY average USC team during our off week. But, that’s par for the course with Mick.
There’s no reason to believe we will blow anyone out. Fitz and Mick aren’t up for that.
I do think we will find a way to win the game, but only because we will avoid giving up 3 defensive tds like we did against Akron last year.

 

Game Score: Cats 20 – UNLV 17

 

Play of the Game: Paddy Fisher annihilates UNLVs qb causing both his helmet and the ball to come loose.

 

Player to Watch: Hunter. He was atrocious 2 weeks ago. Will he be at least marginally better?

 

Warrior to Watch: Me. I’ll be back from my honeymoon on Friday night. Will we have any Supertuscans at the tailgate?

 

Other Game to Watch: None. The past few college football seasons have been painful outside of NU. The trend continues. There are 5 teams vying for 3 playoff spots (Bama, LSU, Oklahoma, UGA and Ohio State). Clemson is already in. Watch out for Syracuse though…. that’s Clemson’s toughest remaining game. They only lost by 43 to Maryland.

 

DOC ROCHE
 

We get it Roger. You’re being all cultured in Italy. I bet the fireball is gonna taste like battery acid when you get back.
 

 

Game Summary: Good lord that Stanford game was a bummer. I do think Northwestern’s run game will have a day against a pretty bad UNLV team. It’ll be an uninspired playbook for Hunter, who looked like a young Evan Watkins out there a few weeks ago.

 

Game Score: Cats 38 – UNLV 14

 

Play of the Game: Hunter Johnson throws a TD to someone.

 

Player to Watch: Ol’ HJ until he proves us otherwise.

 

Warrior to Watch: Rusty. He’s bringing the satellite and the TV.

 

Other Game to Watch: Pitt-Penn State is usually a fun game to watch.

 

TRENT
 
Game Summary: Well the ‘Cats lost game one and didn’t look great. While we held Stanford to 10 points (plus a bogus last second fumble TD), we only scored 7. The game was so bad I can barely remember any specific moments from the action. I do know TJ Green looked the better of the two QBs but got knocked out for the year. Hunter Johnson looked like a first time starter and definitely will be a work in progress.

Good news is we’ve got UNLV this week. They lost their last game to Arkansas State by 34 points and aren’t very good, especially on defense. Hopefully the ‘Cats O can get enough going to put some points on the board and pull this one out. I’m very proud to have coined the term Bowser Ball™ however Bowser isn’t playing in this one :(. However, think the ‘Cats will run a lot this week with HJ using his legs. Beware the ‘Cats at home as a double digit favorite – I can’t remember the last time we covered in this situation. However I think NU will be fired up and Fitz has too much bad Akron taste in his mouth to let the team slip up here.

 

Game Score: NU 38 – UNLV – 17

 

Play of the Game: Hunter throws his first TD pass, a deep post to Riley Lees.
 

 

Player to Watch: Hunter Johnson.

 

Warrior to Watch: Doc Roche. The doctor is back in Chicago and will be ready to roll in the West Lot.

 

Other Game to Watch: ASU @ MSU. Can Sparty stay undefeated before their trip to Evanston next week?

 

ANDY DAY
 

Game Summary: Our offense is bad until proven otherwise. I don’t care how bad UNLV’s defense is supposed to be, our offense is arguably worse (yes, we have the second worse offense in the FBS right now). We will struggle again to score, but so will UNLV. Our defense is still pretty darn good despite some tackling issues in Week 1, and we’ll manage to hold a high scoring offense to only a handful of scores.

 

Game Score: ‘Cats 20 – UNLV 19

 

Play of the Game: Hunter Johnson completes two consecutive passes.

 

Player to Watch: Mick McCall

 

Warrior to Watch: Dr. Michael Roche, MD. Will he lose his keys, only to find them later?

 

Other Game to Watch: LSU vs Northwestern….State.

 

HACK
 

Game Summary: UNLV lost to Arkansas State last week. They aren’t good. Too bad this isn’t a  home and home. I will be eating Paella and enjoying the nice day as the Cats roll.

 

Game Score: ‘Cats 35 – UNLV 3

 

Play of the Game: Hunter Johnson completes a 75-yard pass to Kyric McGowan on the first play from scrimmage

 

Player to Watch: Hunter till he proves otherwise.

 

Warrior to Watch: Dr. Michael Roche has returned praise be to Otto Graham!

 

Other Game to Watch: Stanford vs UCF: Can Stanford make our loss look good?

 

PAUL
 

Game Summary: With no Bowser, Hunter will have to really prove himself. Can he handle the pressure of his first home game in an ideal tailgate timeslot at 2:30?? I’m not convinced yet after that pitiful performance by the O-line and O-coordinator two weeks ago. I have a bad feeling this one is going to be tight with NU needing a late FG to win it.

 

Game Score: ‘Cats 19 – UNLV 17

 

Play of the Game: Winning FG kick with seconds remaining.

 

Player to Watch: Kicker. I sense we’re going to need a game winner in this one.

 

Warrior to Watch: Gotta be Roche. Welcome back to the West Lot!!

 

Other Game to Watch: Iowa v. Iowa State. Going to be as tough a battle as the one over the effectiveness of corn subsidies in Washington DC!

Prediction Caturday – Stanford!

usa_today_8782493.0

Game day is here! The moment we’ve been waiting months for has finally arrived. Half the Warrior crew is out on the West Coast bringing those West Lot beats to Palo Alto. Special Happy Birthday shout out to Andy Day!!!

Let’s see who we’ve got in the game.

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

 

TRENT

Game Summary:

Four years ago, the ‘Cats took on Stanford to open the season in Evanston. In many ways, the program was in a very different spot. Northwestern was coming off back to back 5-7 seasons, and deep within the fan base there was unrest and questions about Fitz. The Wildcats had questions at QB as Trevor Siemian entered the NFL draft and few people (aside from yours truly) were picking the ‘Cats to beat the Cardinal. I like to think this game was an inflection point for our program, as Northwestern smothered Stanford and only lost two games during the regular season to finish in the top 15 of the CFP rankings. Since then we’ve won three bowl games and a B1G West Title. What a difference a few years makes – Fitz’s Q score has never been higher as we enter the 2019 season.

Just as it was four years ago, the ‘Cats are dealing with a change at QB, and we really didn’t know what we are going to get at the position this weekend. Fitz has played his usual media games and has folks guessing about who will start on Saturday – is it the talented but unproven Hunter Johnson, or the veteran TJ Green? Or, will it be a combination of both?
I seriously hope it is not the latter – we saw last year against Purdue how quickly a team can burn its momentum by switching QBs throughout different series, not allowing either to get into a rhythm. I’d like to see Hunter in there – we saw what TJ Green could do last year and it wasn’t anything to write home about. Perhaps he’s made serious strides this offseason, but I have my doubts.
Stanford runs a pro style offense, similar to a lot of what the ‘Cats see in the B1G. They’re going to run the ball, run play action, and play smart football – grinding out games. The ‘Cats will try to do the same, especially with some of the questions at QB.
However, something tells me Fitz has been playing us all and we’ll see Hunter Johnson run out for the first NU offensive snap of the game. I think the ‘Cats will play conservatively to start out, and expect a lot of Bowser early on as we ease into the game and the season.
I believe the biggest weakpoint on our team is the secondary, and KJ Costello is the kind of QB that could pick us apart. However he doesn’t have the same weapons he’s had in years past, aside from a solid TE (from what I’ve read).
This is going to be a low scoring game – I love the under here. Fitz has a great record in tight one score games, and even though our team is young, they’ve been in some pressure situations over the past few years – the B1G championship experience will be valuable. Fitz has never had an issue getting the team up for big games – they will be fired up and ready for this one. I think we pull it out with a late FG.
Game Score: NU 20 – Stanford 17
Player to Watch: Hunter Johnson on offense, Greg Newsome on defense. I’ve said enough about HJ – for Greg, can he take over as the lead DB for Hartage and play lock-down D?
 
Warrior to Watch: Andy Day. Our West Coast Warrior reps the purple faithful out in the Bay Area and is going to do it up right for this season opener and his birthday.
Other Game to Watch: Illinois – Akron. A bettor threw down 55K on Illinois to cover -17, can they avoid a Northwestern-like performance against the Zips?
ANDY “B” DAY
Game Summary:

Solid defense. Painful to watch offense. Does that remind anyone of a team? Sounds a lot like the 2015 ‘Cats. I think this game looks very similar to 2015 Stanford @ NU. Go ‘Cats!

Game Score: NU 16 – Stanford 6
Player to Watch: Whoever ends up playing quarterback
 
Warrior to Watch: Grayhack. He’s out in the Bay and ready to play.
Other Game to Watch: Oregon – Auburn in Jerry World. Should be a fun one.
ROGER
Game Summary: I’m curious to see what the offense is all about this year. I assume it’s same old same old, but we don’t even know who the QB is at the moment…. which is concerning.
This is a non con game though. We have demonstrated that we don’t give much of a shit about those in recent years. So, I’m going to take the same attitude. I’m also going honeymooning on Sunday, so it’s a win either way.

Game Score: Cats 21 – Stansbury 16, Roger’s Honeymoon – 100

Player to Watch: Mick/TJ/Hunter
PAUL
Game Summary:  No Cats are getting caught in Trees tomorrow. Our defense plays lights out and gets critical turnovers in the red zone as our offense is a mess. McCall decides to use the Wildcat QB strategy which does not pan out.
Game Score: NU 12 – Stanford 9
Play of the Game: Pick in the end zone saving a TD
 
Player to Watch: Bowser
 
Warrior to Watch: DAY. It’s his 30th celebration. Got to love it.
Other Game to Watch: Duke Bama. Upset alert.
HACK
69-0 Cats win
DOC ROCHE
Game Summary:  A team led by two quarterbacks is most often led by none.
I don’t know anything about Stanford.
Game Score: Cardinal 24 – Cats 10
Play of the Game: First play of the game – when we find out who QB 1A is
 
Player to Watch: The QB Platoon!
 
Warrior to Watch: The birthday boy!
Other Game to Watch: all of em. Happy Labor Day.
Z VON
Cats 2 Stannis 0

Prediction Friday – B1G Championship

The ‘Cats are taking their talents to Indy!

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

 

ROGER

Game Summary:

I’ll get into the significance of this game momentarily, but first I’d like to point out a few things about our opponent:

  1. This year’s version of Ohio State is NOT invincible. In fact, they are probably the most beatable Buckeyes squad in nearly a decade because they have an incredibly low floor relative to other OSU teams.
  2. Ohio State has a negative point differential in road games and a +5 point differential in road and neutral site games. That’s almost unfathomable for a top 10 team with 1 loss.
  3. Ohio State was losing in the 2nd half this season to 4-8 Nebraska, 5-7 TCU, 5-7 Maryland and, obviously, 6-6 Purdue.
  4. If Ohio State churns out a performance on par with point 3 above, they will not be one of the better teams we have played this year.
  5. Ohio State has churned out performances on par with point 3 above more often than not.

Usually I ponder which NU team will show up. This week, the more significant question is which Ohio State team will show up. I’ll be the first to tell you I have no idea. We absolutely cannot beat the Ohio State team that played last week in Columbus. That said, there are a few things here that suggest last week’s OSU team won’t be in attendance and there are a few more than could go our way earlier in the day on Saturday.

  1. This game isn’t in Columbus (see above)
  2. OSU isn’t playing their rival in the most heated rivalry in all of sports
  3. No matter what they say, every singly player on the OSU roster and every single coach on the OSU sideline thinks they are going to win this game comfortably
  4. OSU’s motivation could be almost non-existent – More on that below.

Per #4, we all know OSU’s football players don’t come to play school. But, I would also argue they don’t come to play for conference championships. They come to play for national championships. Thankfully, through positive circumstance here, Buckeye nation is going to bed Friday night thinking they still have a shot at the national title and that could be erased by 8pm EST pending the outcome of the Texas – Oklahoma game. The committee has indicated that they evaluate the entire body of work for each team in each week’s rankings. OU is ahead of OSU this week. If OU wins comfortably in the Big XII Championship Game, then the Buckeyes have effectively zero chance of jumping them. Even with a convincing win, OSU would have done absolutely nothing during the week to justify jumping an OU team that also had a convincing win, also won their conference championship game AND beat a higher ranked team and avenged their only loss of the season.

Given that motivation appears to have been a problem all year for Ohio State, the outcome of the OU Texas game is a GIGANTIC factor in this game.

Now, for the ‘Cats.

  1. This game isn’t in Evanston – that’s actually a positive for this bunch
  2. NU is playing what ‘Cats fans would consider the Evil Empire
  3. The entire world is counting NU out
  4. Motivation? Are you serious? More on that below.

Motivation is obviously not going to be an issue for NU in this one. I’ve heard a lot of the NU faithful say this is the biggest game since [INSERT GAME IN ’95 or ’96]. I’m not sure that’s true. I would argue this is the biggest game ever for this program. As I pointed out last week, NU has NEVER played a Rose Bowl play-in game. In ’95 they had to rely on help from Michigan after their season ended. In 1948, they backdoored their way into the game thanks to some weird conference rules and more help from Michigan. This is a Rose Bowl play-in game for the ‘Cats. That’s a first. Thus, I would argue this is the most important game in the history of this program.

So, what’s going to happen in the game?

If NU can slog their way to halftime well within striking range, then I like our odds. Not only will OSU be completely screwed in their attempt to win by 100, but the ‘Cats will also realize that they aren’t playing the OSU squad that showed up against Michigan. That’s quite appealing.

I’m actually most concerned about explosive plays on the special teams front early in this one. Our kickoff coverage has been a disaster for the better part of the year. That’s partially the result of not having an actual kicker for kickoff duties, but our guys have also exercised poor discipline in coverage (as LaVar Ball would say “stay in yo lane”). The Cats cannot get beat with special teams home runs and expect to stay close.

Offensively, the offensive line is nearly as critical as Clayton in this one. OSU’s defense isn’t anything to write home about, but they still have first round NFL talent on the defensive line. The ‘Cats have to avoid letting a few individuals dominate the game and dictate our offensive scheme. Our offense isn’t Purdue, but it’s also not that different schematically at the end of the day when Mick (rarely) gets creative. For that reason alone, I have some hope that the ‘Cats will be able to move the ball.

Defensively, we’re going to give up yards. There’s no way around that. We’re also going to give up points. But, it’s worth noting that OSU has the worst red zone offense in the B1G. Surprising? Maybe. But they rely a lot on the home run. We rely a lot on the bend-don’t-break. If we do a lot of bending and they hit a lot of singles and a few doubles, we’ve got a real shot here.

Thanks to some methodical offensive play, I think the ‘Cats will get this into halftime down something like 17-10 or 17-14.

At that point, the magic kicks in. Some backstory…..

Enter Rose – the van. Trent alluded to this, but Rose is a blessed van. She’s like an actual cat with nine lives… except she’s a 1990’s Chevy G20. Rose used life six, seven and eight this offseason. Her tires dry rotted, her battery died (yet again) and her brakes have essentially ceased functioning. Prior to paying our final respects to Rose, we thought it best to treat her with the utmost dignity in what could be her final season. So, she got a purple paint job. Unbeknownst to just about anyone (including Facilities Management at NU, Dr. Jim and the residents who live near Ashland and Isabella), Rose has a final resting place set aside: Lot 6, Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103. She also has final transportation arrangements made. Simply put, this is destiny.

On to the 2nd half.

Look for the Buckeyes to get tense in the 3rd quarter if this game is close. The ‘Cats will benefit from that by way of some turnovers and some blown coverages and we just may take the lead into the 4th quarter.

If this plays out, it’s time for Mick and Clayton to put up or shut up once and for all. There’s no chance in hell the ‘Cats will be able to hang on against a team like Ohio State. As bizarre as it sounds, NU will have to go for the kill if they have the chance. Purdue proved that it’s possible. You better believe Fitz has reviewed that film multiple times.

It’s your time to shine, Fitz.

Game Score: NU 31 – OSU 20

Play of the Game: Up 24-20 with less than 5 minutes to play deep in our own territory, Thorson throws a backwards pass to Riley Lees who finds Jefferson wide open down the sideline for an 85 yard score.

 Player to Watch: Thorson and the Offensive Line. Ball control will be our best defense early in this game.

Warrior to Watch: Rose. It is written.

Other Game to Watch: The Big XII Championship. See above. We could really use a convincing OU win here.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: One game. One freaking game.

Six years ago the Warriors banded together, bought a dilapidated van off of Craigslist and named it Rose. The implication was that someday, someway, Northwestern would get back to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Now, we are 60 minutes away from making that pipedream a reality.

The Warriors had been talking about painting the van purple for many years, but a lack of organization and effort delayed Rose’s purple coat until earlier this year. The honorable Patrick Grayhack braved the elements and likely some kind of lead poisoning as he went out and painted Rose purple on one hot summer day. Is it a coincidence that the year Rose finally turned purple also happens to be the year the ‘Cats win the West and get a shot at the Rose Bowl? I think not.

This is easily the biggest game for the program since I’ve been a ‘Cats fan. The boys are headed down to Indy this weekend to see One Republic rock out…and also see our beloved ‘Cats take on the Ohio State Buckeyes, I guess. OSU ‘upset’ Michigan in an outcome that shocked most…but shouldn’t have. Urban Meyer had never lost to Michigan, never lost as an underdog and was playing at home. The signs were there for an OSU win, but no one saw a total blowout coming as the Wolverines fell apart on defense and gave up 63 points. How about Pat Fitzgerald and NU making their first B1G title game appearance before Harbaugh and Michigan?

As I wrote a few weeks back, I wanted to face Michigan as opposed to OSU. OSU has the #3 passing offense in the country, and elite athletes at every skill position. When you factor in our beat up secondary, this is a bad matchup. The teams that have given OSU problems this year – Nebraska, Purdue and Maryland – all run an up-tempo spread offense and have speed at the skill positions. The ‘Cats do not play that style, and do not have a lot of speed. OSU’s defense has been much-maligned, but it’s really not that bad and doesn’t rank too far behind the ‘Cats D.

Basically this game feels like a college basketball matchup to me. Whenever you see a team like Virginia matching up with a team like UNC on the hardwood – two teams with competing styles of play – whoever wins the game will come down to who can impose their pace of play on the other. Virginia likes to grind it out, whereas UNC is up tempo – so a game where the teams are scoring in the 50’s caters more to Virginia, whereas a game where teams are scoring in the 80’s plays into UNC’s hands. In this analogy, the ‘Cats are Virginia and the Buckeyes are UNC. We want to slow the game down, play great D and turn this into a rock fight. OSU wants to speed the game up and turn it into a track meet. Whichever team can impose their pace of play on the other will have the advantage.

I have flashbacks to when OSU played Wisconsin back in 2014 in the B1G championship – they were on the outside looking up at the CFP at that point, and needed a statement victory to give themselves a chance to make the top four. They went out and whupped Wisconsin 59-0 in that game and just looked so much more athletic at every position. The Buckeyes are in a similar spot this year, needing a dominant performance in Indy to solidify their spot in the top four. They have better athletes than us at every position, and need to win big.

This could get ugly, and I wouldn’t be shocked in the slightest if OSU ran us out of the building. I’d like to think the ‘Cats have a chance here, as we haven’t gotten blown out in a game this year and have showed up each and every time we’ve been an underdog (winning five of those games outright). It’s moments like this, when nobody believes in us and everyone counts us out, that NU shows up in a big way and competes.

In my mind this game comes down to our offense. No what our defense does, Ohio State is going to put up points. They average more than 43 points per game. With their lethal deep passing game they could score on any one play. Meanwhile, the ‘Cats are only scoring 23 points per game. We need to turn this into a rock fight to win – in my mind the blueprint is what Michigan State did against OSU earlier this year. Though Sparty lost, they played a tight, low scoring field position game throughout. If this game is played in the 20s, we’ve got a shot. Once it gets to the 30s, we’re likely SOL.

Sadly I think OSU will be able to score more than 30 points on us. I see the ‘Cats keeping it tight for a while, but a few big plays in the second half puts the Buckeyes out in front and the ‘Cats won’t be able to catch up. Regardless, the Warriors and NU faithful will enjoy the Indy trip, and having our team in this kind of national primetime spotlight is fantastic publicity for our program. To make it to the B1G championship is no small feat, and the future looks even brighter.

Game Score: NU 23 – OSU 33

Play of the Game: Bowser with 2 TDs.

Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser. The kid from working class Sidney, OH grew up in a town full of Buckeyes fans who have been converted over to NU fans ever since Bowser broke onto the scene earlier this year. Many of the folks from Sidney were planning to go to Indy for this game, and I’m sure that number has gone up since OSU beat Michigan.

How perfect would it be for the kid from Ohio to have a big game this weekend? To me, Bowser is the key to the game. If he has a successful day on the ground, the ‘Cats will be able to extend drives, slow the game down and burn clock. If Bowser can’t find room to run, the ‘Cats will go one dimensional and that’s not going to work against a team with so much talent like OSU. If Isaiah can run like he has the past five weeks, we’ll have a chance.

Warrior to Watch: Gotta be Rose.

Other Game to Watch: Really? Are there even other games happening? I guess you could say NU @ IU in basketball, which will be a nice appetizer for the Warriors during the day on Saturday.

 

ZVON

Game Summary: ‘Cats play okay in first half but I don’t think we’ve got the gusto to win. Another loss to An Ohio State University. We’ll get ’em someday.

Game Score: OSU 45 – ‘Cats 21

Play of the Game: Bowser scores a TD to tie it 7-7 in the first quarter

Player to Watch: OSU Marching Band

Warrior to Watch: This has ‘Paul’ written all over it. Does he switch allegiance once the game appears to be squarely in the hands of OSU? Does he wear an OSU shirt under his NU garb?

Other Game to Watch: This is the game

 

ROCHE

Game Summary: Roger’s verbose today, even for him. I am not.

Fetz turns 30 on game day, you guys. The ‘Cats deliver her a Rose Bowl birth for her big day.

I think the ‘Cats get a late score and snuff out a Buckeye final drive to seal the deal.

…Or this game is never close and Ohio State runs away and hides early.

Let’s go with the first one.

Game Score: NU 34 – OSU 30

Play of the Game: Bowser converts a Third and Goal to put the #B1GCats ahead for good.

Player to Watch: Thorson. He’s gonna need to show up for the biggest game of his career for the ‘Cats to have a chance.

Warrior to Watch: Rose is getting ready for her cross-country trip.

Other Game to Watch: I guess Roger makes a good point. Big 12 title game.

 

PAUL

Game Summary: This is certainly the biggest NU game I’ve ever been a part of and I’m pumped that we have five of the seven Warriors making their way down to the Circle City to watch this one in person. Sadly, Rose is taking this week off and resting up for New Years Day.

OSU was unreal last week, but I have to agree with Roger here that they are going to have an intense hangover and think they’ll be able to easily win. Add to the fact that they’ll be dejected after OU wins against Texas and this sets up the Cats well to pull this one off.

NU will keep this game close on the back of Bowser and some surprisingly clutch passes from Clayton – even one scrambling out of the pocket! We head into half time down 21-14.

The Cats D absolutely comes alive in the 2nd half and holds OSU to just 7 points. NU, without a reliable kicker makes a ridiculous 4th down conversion late in the game to tie this one up. WE ARE HEADING TO OVERTIME!!!

The D holds the Buckeyes to a field goal and Bowser gives the Cats their first ever B1G Championship with a 15 yard TD run. We are heading to Pasadena!

Game Score: Wildcats 35 – Buckeyes 31 (OT)

Play of the Game: Bowser’s winning TD run.

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – needs to have some key passes in this game and can’t turn the ball over.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin – how intense is he going to get during this game? Will the Warriors in 117 be able to hear him three sections over?

Other Game to Watch: There is no other game.

HACK

Game Summary: Michael Jordan years ago, the Cats took the purple to Pasadena. Tomorrow, on St. Chrispins Day, the Cats have an opportunity to do it again. Will they? Or won’t they? Only the Gods know.

 Game Score: CATS 33 – OSU 32

Play of the Game: Thorson completes a pass to Kyric McGowan for a 44 yard TD.

Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel. Need a big game.

Warrior to Watch: Andy Day – He brings it on big games and will be in attendance for this one.

Other Game to Watch: The North London Derby on Sunday. Arsenal 6 – Tottenam 0.

 

DAY

Game Summary: Cats Win!

Game Score:  CATS 30 – OSU 28

Play of the Game: Bowser on 4th and 1 to seal the game.

Player to Watch: Claydog

Warriors to Watch: HACK

Other Game to Watch: None.

Prediction Caturday – Minnesota

cakes

The ‘Cats have won the West! Here are the Warriors’ picks for our game today against Minnesota.

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

 

 

ROGER

Game Summary: Apathy might be at an all time low for the next few weeks. There are two other historic dates in contentions….

November 11, 2000 – Northwestern @ Iowa and Purdue @ Michigan State. 
Both NU and Purdue were 6-1 and leading the B1G. Purdue held the Rose Bowl tiebreaker over NU due to the head to head victory. They also held the Rose Bowl tiebreaker in a multi-team tie (hi, Michigan) atop the conference given that it had been the longest since they had gone to Pasadena (what a dumb rule in hindsight). Purdue got smoked that day in East Lansing. But, that game didn’t kickoff until 2pm EST. NU played at Iowa at 12pm EST. By the time we realized Purdue had a legitimate chance of losing (probably about 3:30pm EST), the ‘Cats had already blown their Rose Bowl chances by losing to a dreadful Iowa team on the road. NU never controlled their own Rose Bowl destiny in this situation.

November 25, 1995 – Ohio State @ Michigan
NU had the week off and had already clinched at least a share of the B1G Championship by going 8-0 in conference. Due to an early season 4th quarter disaster where the ‘Cats blew a 27-7 lead to a then Randy Walker-led out-of-conference opponent Miami (OH), there was still one team holding the ‘Cats back from the Rose Bowl here: Ohio State. The Buckeyes were 10-0 overall and 7-0 in conference. Their overall record would serve as the tiebreaker sending them to Pasadena if they beat Michigan. Thanks to John Cooper (2-10-1 all time as Ohio State head coach vs. Michigan) and an historic day from Michigan’s Tshimanga “Tim” Biakabutuka (313 yards rushing on 37 carries), Blue beat the #2 Buckeyes and sent the ‘Cats to Pasadena. NU never controlled their own Rose Bowl destiny in this situation either.

Enter 2018. As we all know, the ‘Cats lost to Duke and Akron in consecutive weeks. We were 1-3 at one point this season. Yet here we sit. We’ll enter December in uncharted territory: we will control our own Rose Bowl destiny. The ‘Cats have literally never been in this situation. We have played in the Rose Bowl exactly two times – one in 1949 when Big Ten rules prevented the conference champion (Michigan) from going to the Rose Bowl in back to back years and again in 1996 (as mentioned above). In neither situation did we find ourselves in a play-in game. What an opportunity.

We’ll all be there to watch in unfold on December 1 in Indianapolis.

In the meantime, in an hilariously unfortunate turn of events for the rest of the B1G West, there are still 2 more regular season games to be played. I really have no idea how Fitz and company are going to deal with these next 2 weeks. The team has to be riding such a ridiculous high after the festivities in Iowa City. Thankfully, it doesn’t really matter much.

The Citrus Bowl is probably in play if the ‘Cats go 8-4 and lose the B1G Championship. More than likely, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State would get NY6 bowl bids in that scenario. It’s hard to see any other team getting the invite to Orlando in that case simply because a) the B1G pushes for its championship game loser to make the best bowl possible b) NU would have beaten all other contenders (Wisconsin, Purdue(?), Michigan State and Iowa) head to head (I realize bowl committees don’t give a shit about that, but the conference does) and c) none of the other team’s fan bases would be particularly interested in that game given their recent trips to Florida. However, if the ‘Cats lose one of these next 2 weeks then all bets are off for the Citrus Bowl and we’re probably headed to California one way or another (Rose Bowl, Holiday Bowl or Redbox Bowl).

The Citrus Bowl is a nice little bowl game (though a matchup against Kentucky… again… or Mississippi State… again…. sounds really boring), Minnesota absolutely throttled Purdue last week and this week’s game is on the road. Those three factors lead me to believe that Fitz will make sure the the team isn’t totally sleep walking. Though, some of that is going to be out of his control. If the ‘Cats stay woke, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, then I think they’ll walk away with another victory. It’s also important to point out that I think Fitz strongly dislike P.J. Fleck. How can you not? The irony of Fleck mandating that his players show solidarity by wearing a jersey with “Minnesota” written in place of their last name  – yet simultaneously don his bullshit oars on their shoulder pads and helmets – should not be lost on anyone. It’s all about the team….. and P.J.’s brand. This guy is the ultimate loser. Fitz’s dislike for the guy might be a factor in this one.

Look for way too much Isaiah Bowser here (in both a good and bad way…. don’t get hurt) and another pedestrian (but limited turnover) affair from Clayton. That, combined with another stout performance from the front 7 should get the job done.

Game Score: NU 27 – Minnesota 14

Play of the Game: Trying to pick on NU’s backup Sky Team (our DB’s), Alonzo Mayo pulls in a highlight reel sideline pick.

 Player to Watch: Thorson. He simply has to play better on December 1 for NU to have any chance. Will he start to right the ship this week against a suspect Minnesota defense that had some success last week? Or will he continue to look like as much of a pro prospect as Z Von (remember his halftime performance several years ago)?

Warrior to Watch: Doc Roche. Let’s not forget that Doc Roche was a key piece to NU’s clinching the B1G West last week. The ‘Cats needed Purdue to lose to clinch. Everyone knows that. I think some people forget – because it happened earlier in the day – that the ‘Cats also needed Wisconsin to lose at Penn State to clinch. That happened too. And I’m crediting Doc for that one as he made the pilgrimage to Happy Valley to cheer on the Nittany Lions. Let’s hope he never has to do that again (cheer on PSU, that is).

Other Game to Watch: Ohio State @ Maryland. Everyone assumes we’re going to be playing Michigan in Indianapolis. While they are the likely opponent at this point, that still requires Michigan to beat Ohio State next week. Having said that, if Ohio State slips up at Maryland this weekend and Michigan takes care of Indiana then it’s over (regardless of the outcome of the Michigan v. Ohio State game). Michigan it is.

 

TRENT

Game Summary: The ‘Cats have clinched the West with two games left to play. Hell hath frozen over.

Northwestern has gotten better as the season has gone on, and we’re now 5-1 in our last six games, with the one loss coming against a top three Notre Dame team. I’m going to go ahead and attribute a lot of our recent success to the emergence of true freshman stud RB Isaiah Bowser, a kid who I touted as far back as the preseason and who has singlehandedly given the Northwestern offense another dimension (not that we had much of a dimension before). Bowser gashed Iowa, a team that ranked top five in run defense, for 165 yards on the ground. He seems to gain a minimum 3-4 yards every play and always falls forward at the end of the run; he never takes negative plays and he’s got more speed than people realize. You could inject Bowser highlights directly into my veins, I’m addicted.

The defense has come on of late, limiting our last three B1G opponents to 17 points or less. Our secondary has been decimated with injuries, but young players like Ruiz and Whillock have stepped up in a huge way and limited big plays. What really has me excited is the playing time these young guys are getting – that’s going to pay dividends down the road and this team’s future is very bright…in addition to the present.

So let’s come back to the present and talk about this week, a matchup against Minnesota up in Minneapolis. Minnesota is better than people realize, and destroyed Purdue last week 41-10. They sit at 5-5 and need a victory to gain bowl eligibility; they’re going to come out swinging in this game. Coach PJ Fleck is a master motivator and a huge d bag.

I really don’t know where the team’s head is at right now – we are in uncharted waters. Typically when we play a meaningless game in November it means that we have been eliminated from bowl eligibility…but now this game means nothing for positive reasons. Fitz has stated that he’s not going to take his foot off the gas and will play all out, but I don’t fully buy it and I hope it’s not the case. I totally get not wanting to lose momentum and keeping the team fresh, but we desperately need to avoid injuries. This is a great time to let some young talent get playing time and see what they can do…again this will only help down the road as these kids gain more experience.

I see this as a complete toss up game. Northwestern opened as three point favorites but we’re now one point dogs…Minnesota needs this one more than we do. It’s going to be cold as hell for this one, with a high of 24 degrees and 12 mph winds. Expect a low scoring affair. I’ve been wrong about almost every ‘Cats outcome so far this year, so I might as well flip a coin for this one. Heads is Minny, tails is NU…and it’s tails. ‘Cats win.

Game Score: NU 21 – Minnesota 17

Play of the Game: Bowser bursts through the line for a 40 yard TD.

Player to Watch: Just no injuries plz.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon. He’s from Minnesota.

Other Game to Watch: Duke @ Clemson. I’m curious to see if Duke can hang around here; Clemson hasn’t played a close game since they almost lost to Cuse.

 

ZVON

Game Summary: Cats win. Don’t know much about MN except that Minnesota has a horrible person as its coach and that they are likely looking forward to Wisconsin, a team they have lost to 14 times in a row. In fact, last year, Minnesota played and lost to both Wisconsin and NU back to back, as they will this year. Last year, the combined scores of those games were 70-0 (NU 39, UMN 0 | Wisco 31- UMN 0). When the Gophers lose this one and the one next week, is PJ Fleck’s boat gonna be at risk of getting rowed outta town?

Game Score: NU 39 – Minnesota 0

Play of the Game: Thorson connects on a broken play to Flynn Nagel for a 60+ yard TD.

Player to Watch: Bowser, guy is a boss.

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack. This kid is big time stuff!

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota next week. Prediction: Wisco 31, Minnesota 0

 

PAUL

Game Summary: CATS WIN THE WEST BABY!!! I haven’t been good at predictions lately, so let’s hope my streak doesn’t continue. Going to be a tough one out in the biting Minnesota cold, but the Cats are clearly the better team here (remember the UofI game?!). Thing is the Cats have a bad case of playing down to their opponent this year and this would be the perfect time to do so, especially with Fitz (hopefully) not looking to take too much physical risk with his players. This is a pray for no injuries game.

Game Score: NU 21 – Minnesota 10

Play of the Game: Moten 25 yard TD run on a reverse

Player to Watch: Alex Spanos! Getting jacked up with the schmedium with a low of 11 degrees projected.

Warrior to Watch: SOTA!!

Other Game to Watch: ND / CUSE

 

HACK

Game Summary: The Cats are heading to Indy but in the meantime its time to deal with our old Boat rowing foe PJ Fleck. The same PJ Fleck who beat them at Western Michigan two years ago. The Cats have long memories and Coach Fitz isn’t about to lose to a team that gave up 55 points to the team downstate. Expect a heavy dose of Bowser and for Clayton to play his best game of the year. Cats win big.

Game Score: Northwestern 35- Minnesota 3

Play of the Game: Bowser turns a 4th and one into a 54-yard touchdown run

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – Let’s get some momentum going towards the ship.

Warrior to Watch: Rankin – Sources say he’s going to begin a hunger strike until the Big Ten Championship game to inspire the team.

Other Game to Watch: The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame vs The Orangemen of Syracuse – A Modern Day Battle of Cullogen at Yankee Stadium

 

ADAY

Game Summary: This game just feels like a trap. Minny has won 3 of the last 5 dating back to 2013. They have shown signs of competence this year despite not being very good. We may come out soft given our current ticket which is already punched. All that said, I still think well pull out a close one in the end.

 Game Score: ‘Cats 28 – ‘Sota 24

Play of the Game: Bowser seals it again, picking up a first down in the waning minutes.

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson, naturally.

Warrior to Watch: Let’s say Trent here. Seems wise.

Other Game to Watch: Cincy @ UCF – Go Bearcats!

 

DOC ROCHE

Game Score: ‘Cats 14 – Minny 13