Prediction Friday – Bye Week

All the Warriors are certainly thankful for the bye this week. Most of the Warriors see NU going 1-0 this week. Hack and ZVon have the two storied Evanston establishments, The Keg of Evanston, and The Mark II Lounge aka “The Deuce” coming away with the win. Roche going with the dark horse of “bedtime”.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
 

After everyone picked the corn shuckers last week, the standings remain the same. Five of the seven warriors are at .500 while Roche and Paul are at .625 and Roger retains the #1 spot at .750.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
3-3
4-4
6-2
5-3
5-3
4-4
4-4

@ADAYNU

Game Summary: We go 1-0 this week.

Score: John Shurna 21 – Pat Houlihan 4 (in a pickup game to 21)

Highlight of the Game: Mick McCall pops a boner while watching the music video to “She Wolf” in the football offices.

Player to Watch: Matt Harris. Praying he’s better soon.

Other Game to Watch: None. Football waits for us while we rest this week.

PAUL

Game Summary: CATS WIN!!

Score: Paul Huettner 10 (out of 10) for his Colonel Bernie Sanders costume this weekend. Free drumsticks for all and extensive business regulation for Popeyes.

Highlight of the Game: Mick McCall gets caught doing naked hot yoga in the training room Sunday morning by the cleaning staff.

Player to Watch: Solomon Vault. Hopefully he finds a way to stay hydrated this weekend.

Warrior to Watch: ZVE. What will happen when Jay “Mr. 4th Quarter” Cutler deals the Vikes a final minute loss?

Other Game to Watch: Vikings @ Bears. Mike Raab is in town and Greg has tickets to the game!!

TRENT

Game Summary: ‘Cats win! ‘Cats win!

Game Score: ‘Cats 1 – Bye 0

Highlight of the Game: McCall goes as Chip Kelly for Halloween. Game planning skillz still don’t improve though.

Player to Watch: Dan Vitale. I feel like he’s gotta be one of the bigger party animals on the team, and I hear the ‘Cats are having a Halloween shindig tonight. Good clean American fun.

Warrior to Watch: All of us, getting some much deserved rest. Some nice down time to help prepare for next week, when we’ll be back at it in the West Lot against Penn State.

Other Game to Watch: Temple v. ND. Do us a solid, Owls.

ROGER

Game Summary: The odds of us winning this week are as low as they’ve ever been. Lower than they ever were in the Dark Ages. But, I have a feeling about this one….. ‘Cats pull off the upset! The students tear down the goal posts and carry them all the way down Central Street before lake-ing them (RIP LTP).

Game Score: Not sure of the actual score, but a definite nailbiter. ‘Cats by 2.

Highlight of the Game: The Juice Squad dresses up like juice for Halloween and gets the ‘Cats amped up (here are directions for said costume).

Player to Watch: Thorson and Mick… per usual. My sources tell me Clayton will be dressing as Mick and Mick will be dressing as Clayton. Look for the play calling to improve and our completion percentage to skyrocket. Mick actually has a pretty good arm (true story).

Warrior to Watch: Gotta be Bags, right? What’s he wearing for Halloween? Nobody knows, but we’ll post pictures as soon as we find out. Also, Bags is taking the GMAT tomorrow afternoon. A true, loyal ‘Cats fan there…. scheduling the test during a bye week.

Other Game to Watch: The Cocktail Party…. it’s always a good time in the ‘Ville. Watch Mark Richt coach his final game against Florida.

ZVON

Game Summary: ‘Cats players go HAM this weekend – just at the Deuce or some #frat party and not on the field.  Last time these guys were in Evanston during a Saturday, they got smoked.  This weekend, they’ll get tanked.  Party on, boys, but be ready come Monday to hit the ol’ practice field.

Game Score:It’ll be a nail biter, but my guess is more than a few ‘Cats score this weekend (maybe even with a Cat woman?).  ‘Cats win big.

Highlight of the Game: Mick McCall walks into a bar.

Player to Watch: Steven Reese – is this dancing sensation going to bust a move this weekend?

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack – only can that guy think up what he is being for Halloween (full disclosure: I don’t know what he is going to be but I know it’s going to be crAaAaAaAZzZZzZy)

Other Game to Watch: Vikings vs Bears.  Go Vikes.  Maybe I can even watch with friends without having to ask them to change the channel and annoying all in the bar.

HACK

Game Summary: In a shock, the Keg of Evanston reopens. The people go crazy.

Game Score: Cats win, but who cares 3.50 big cups!!!!! #dollaroff

Highlight: Fight on the dance floor, but George the bouncer breaks that shit up real quick.

Player to Watch: Dancing Man – The Heath Ledger look alike takes the floor by storm and all the people love his next level moves.

Warrior to Watch: ROGER – Will Roger be leaving his couch this Saturday, signs point to yes, but who knows.

Other Game to Watch: Alabama vs the Tuscaloosa Police Department: With the bye this week, can the Tide avoid having multiple players arrested? #doubtful

ROCHE

Game Summary: Cats sleep in and have a strong breakfast of oatmeal and leafy greens. They study hard and have a workout before heading to bed at a reasonable hour.  [Editor’s Note: It works for the NFL!]

Final Score: Bed by 9 pm

Player to Watch: Them all. I expect them all to have meals high in fiber, lean proteins and veggies.

Warrior to Watch: Everyone. Who’s gonna have the best costume?!

Other game to Watch: PSU-Illinois.

Advertisements

Prediction Friday – Nebraska

USATSI_7500256

All the Warriors see the Cats continuing their October losing streak. Doesn’t look to be a good day for the Cats. Come join us at Kincades to enjoy the coin toss!!

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

Roger reclaims his #1 spot after picking the Hawkeyes with Paul last week. Paul and Roche are battling out for the #2 spot.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
3-2
4-3
6-1
5-2
5-2
4-3
4-3

TRENT

Welp, last week wasn’t pretty. Neither was the week before that. The ‘Cats were outscored 78-10 by Michigan and Iowa. Yikes. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I’m sure Fitzgerald’s coaching record in October is abysmal – and this year isn’t bucking the trend. The good news – we only need one more win to become bowl eligible. The bad news – I don’t think we’re going to get it this week.

Game Summary: My only real ray of optimism for this game is that the ‘Cats have tended to play well in past games in Lincoln. We won there in 2011 in the awesome Kain Colter “Superman” game, and lost on a Hail Mary in 2013. In fact, last year’s game was really the first in the series since the Huskers joined the B1G that didn’t come down to the wire.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this game is going to come down to the wire. Nebraska can air it out and score – which means they’re a bad matchup for us. I see us getting down early in this one, and never really being able to recover…considering we can’t score points. Mick McCall needs to be more inventive and open up the offense – it’s dumbfounding that he hasn’t taken more risks this year and attempted more downfield plays. What’s the harm in trying something different, especially when your team has put up 10 points in two weeks? Hoping to see Clayton air it out more in this game – there is no harm in trying.

Game Score: The Real NU 13 – Nebraska 33

Player to Watch: Anthony Walker. After a dominant start to the season, I haven’t noticed him at all the past few weeks. He’s still on the team, right?

Play of the Game: Jack Mitchell kicking some 3 pointers baby.

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack. Why not?

Other Game to Watch: Memphis at Tulsa. Memphis is undefeated and just beat Ole Miss. Also I saw them play a game, and they run a really fun style of offense. It’d be cool to have them go undefeated, just to see what the Playoff committee would do. Also, D Rose went there – so there’s that.

ROGER

Ha!!!! Hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!! You call that coaching?!?!?! You call that an offense?!?!?!?!

I’m now in full on ridicule mode. Can you blame me? We’re witnessing a full blown train wreck, and there are no brake pads (no such thing as last) on this train.

So, let’s get this straight. We’ve been outscored 78-10 over the last 2 weeks, we’re headed to play in the most hostile environment we’ve played in thus far and we have Mick(ey Mouse) running our offense. You expect a win? Shit…. you better hope we’re competitive…. because this one has laugher written all over it.

Game Summary: We’ll win the toss and defer. Because, you know, when you really want to set the tone that’s what you do. Right, Fitz? Nebraska will move down the field and score a TD. How are they going to do this? They’re going to exploit us with the tape they have from Michigan and Iowa. Why is that going to work? Because our coaches don’t adjust. So…. they’re going to run a shit ton of misdirections, crack our DBs and scamper down the sidelines.

After the 7-0 start, we’ll all know it’s over.

I’ve got nothing more to add.

Game Score: Children of the Corn 34 – Cats 6

Player to Watch: Clayton and Mick….. forever more. I’m also going to agree with Bag, though. Anthony Walker needs to demonstrate he’s still on the team. Cakes, forget what the coaches have told you (because they have no clue what they’re saying) and just play based on instinct here.

Play of the Game: Cats win the toss and defer

Warrior to Watch: Let’s go with one-eyed Z Von. He’ll be at Kincade’s on Saturday. Maybe I’ll join him too just to rally the troops and get some more traffic to www.firemickmccall.com.

Other Game to Watch: Utah @ USC. Are you kidding me right here? Utah is a 3 point dog. They are ranked #3 in the nation playing an unranked SC team who just canned their coach a week and a half ago. I know nobody thinks Utah is actually the real deal (like my boy Darnell Autry in ’95), but shit….. can’t they get some respect? Utah will be pissed and will win big.

ROCHE

Game Summary:  Eh, whatever. I don’t know how they can win if they keep running that vanilla offense. Maybe they can hold Nebraska down, but with the Huskers’ ability to air it out, I don’t see that happening. I’m also working again this weekend. After the last two games, I’d much rather be on Labor and Delivery than watch the ‘Cats again this week.

Game Score: Huskers 16 – ‘Cats 13

Player to Watch: Bigsby. Anyone on offense I guess. Let’s score some points.

Play of the Game: Defer. Can I say none?

Warrior to Watch: Paul! It has to be Paul. He’s a Husker fan also!

Other Game to Watch: Penn State – MD. The Nittany Lions will prolly win this one going away because MD is a hot mess. Maybe PSU can win a few games to have their egos boosted coming into playing the ‘Cats in a couple weeks,.

@ADAYNU

Game Summary: In the words of John Denver, “Take me home country roads take me home to the place I belong.” The ‘Cats will be out in the country on Saturday, and they are going to get home soon after this one. The great collapse of 2015 continues with another laughable game plan from Mick McCall. The defense hold for as long as they can, but eventually the floodgates open. ‘Cats lose big again and our offense falls to the WORST in the FBS.

Game Score: Neb 31 – NU 10

Player to Watch: Anyone on defense – what kind of shade did Fitz and his staff pull over our eyes in the first 5 weeks? No one looks competent anymore. Everyone who we thought looked like a stud has been totally exposed in the last two games. Will someone return to form or is this really the team we have on our hands? Unfortunately, I think the only player who was actually legit was Matt Harris and he’s banged up. Get well soon brotha.

Play of the Game: Speed option to the left for a loss of 5.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon, cause, well, it’s ZVon.

Other Game to Watch: Utah @ USC. USC is favored by 3.5 here. Am I missing something? Might be profitable to book a flight to Vegas just to place a bet on this one.

PAUL

Game Summary: Cats still can’t put anything together on the offensive side and with Nebraska getting back into their groove I don’t see our offensive putting up many yards against the Blackshirts this time around. Defense doesn’t do that bad, but a pick 6 from Thorson and a sack fumble on our side of the field will lead the fans to beg for Alviti to see some time. Motion denied. Cats never have a shot at this one, but do score a CLUTCH field goal late in the third quarter (more below). The team I was raised on makes me wish I could go back to better times of Fmr. Rep. Tom Osborne and Frank Solich.

Game Score: Huskers 27 – Cats 3

Player to Watch: Mick McCall. Watch out for this one as @ADayNU will be on his couch with his thumbs on the Twitter trigger. If he can’t put together a competent game plan in week 7, this will be the game boosters and fans will point to to justify his shitcanning.

Play of the Game: Cats down 17 in the 3rd quarter on 4th and 2 on the Neb 25 opt for a FG. IT’S GOOD!!

Warrior to Watch: It’s Hack’s birthday weekend so I gotta go with him here. On an unrelated note, I may bring my cornhead to Kincade’s and throw that bad boy on if the Cats are miserable.

Other Game to Watch: Boring week. I’d say watching the Aggies hand Ole Miss their 3rd loss of the season would be great. Leigh Anne Tuohy will be crying in the stands.

 

ZVON

Game Summary: ‘Cats look bad all day.  JJ actually gets close to 100 yards but that’s because it really didn’t matter once he started piling them up.  Huskers move the ball at will.  ‘Cats get exploited on defense.  This one isn’t a laugher but it never was close.  Nebraska rolls.

Game Score: Nebraska 28 – NU 7

Player to Watch: McCall – the guy is not a good coach.  Our offense should be better than we are – but we aren’t.  Somebody needs to answer for this stuff.

Play of the Game: Walker gets a fumble recovery when the game is out of hand.  Next play, Thorson throws a pick.  Huzzah!

Warrior to Watch: Roger – we likely are watching the game together and he needs to study later in the day, but with McCall’s calls being a flaming piece of garbage – we will see how angry and drunk Rog can get…

HACK

BIRTHDAY EXEMPTION!!

Game Score: The corn lovers by 10

 

Prediction “Friday” – Iowa

Screen_Shot_2015-10-12_at_10.36.25_AM.0.0

Didn’t quite get to posting on Friday due to waiting for Day’s prediction which never came. Most of the Warriors see the Cats bouncing back for their Homecoming game, but Paul and Roger aren’t so sure.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
 NO PICK nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo

Roche moves up with a first place tie with Roger as he begrudgingly picked the Maize and Blue to win last week (by just a 3 point margin). Andy lags behind due to a missed pick during Duke week.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
3-2
4-2
5-1
5-1
4-2
4-2
4-2

First week Northwestern hasn’t been unanimous since Duke. Let’s see if the ‘Cats are able to keep the streak going, and raise the W flag over the Big House.

ROCHE

Well it’s Homecoming this weekend, and from what I can tell you all just enjoyed a fine night at Durkin’s, which means (1) I’m jealous and sad I’m missing out and (2) I shouldn’t expect a reply to this email for a good 8 hours.

I’ll be working again tomorrow, which could be a great thing if the game turns out at all like last week’s at the Big House

Game Summary: Iowa’s got a bunch of injuries, and it looks like CJB is banged up. The game really hinges on whether or not the ‘Cats can break free of their offensive monotony that has plagued them forever (LOLZ GOOD LUCK WITH THAT).

I do think the ‘Cats have their tails between their legs and are ready to prove that last week wasn’t representative of who they are as a squadron. ‘Cats go into halftime down by a field goal. A few great defensive plays set up the offense in short field position and they convert two TD’s late 3rd/early 4th.

Final Score: ‘Cats 20 – Iowa 17

Play of the Game: Big 4th down stop to seal the deal.

Player to Watch: Bigsby. If he is on and is confident, the offense has a great day

Warrior to Watch: Rusty. He’s in town and going from tailgate to tailgate interviewing folks about their love for the ‘Cats and why they tailgate. Shoot us an email if you want to be included!

Other Game to Watch: If you had Cubs-Mets in the NLCS back in April, I want to take you to Las Vegas with me (JK THE IDEA OF VEGAS FRIGHTENS). But actually tho – Penn State – OSU. PSU has been squeaking wins since they got embarrassed by Temple. Will their streak continue? Almost certainly not.

HACK

Thank god the Cubs are still in the playoffs and I haven’t had to think about last week’s shellacking for a week. Have no fear my beloved Cats fans, I have returned to right the ship. Yes, that’s right the heartbeat of the heartland yours truly is back in the Chi and dammit it feels good to be home.

Game Summary: Iowa scores on its first drive as Bethard connects with his tight end, however Dean Lowry and crew get angry as the tight end does the whip and nae nae in celebration. Iowa fails to get another first down. On the other side of the ball, things start slowly with two punts, but eventually Justin Jackson gets going and gets a few first downs. Thorson hits a wide open Garrett Dickerson on a play action fake for a touchdown. From there the Cats grind a hurt Iowa Hawkeye team into the dirt as Jackson racks up 175 yards rushing and two tds.

Final Score: ‘Cats 24 – Iowa 7

Play of the Game: Miles Shuler returns a punt  for touchdown.

Player to Watch: Bigsby. Played well all things considered last week, let’s hope he continues to improve

Warrior to Watch: Everyone at the tailgate. I will be filming a documentary about tailgating this weekend. Instead of the documentary cam that I wanted, I will be filming this one on DSLR, which means a far superior picture, so look your best people.

Other Game to Watch: Cubs vs Mets, because it’s the playoffs man. Harvey implodes and the Cubs win.

ZVON

The ‘Cats enter this game with a one large question mark and another that I can’t get off my mind.

It is simple: Was the Michigan game a fluke?  I mean, they are clearly better but 38-0….I think that’s a little extreme.  However, it’s what happened.  We need to move on.  We’re on to Iowa.  Are we worried? We’re on to Iowa.  Is Clayton scared?  We’re on to Iowa.  Cue the Belichick.  (Btw, the question I can’t get off my mind is: How did we beat Stanford Baratheon 16-6 after they dropped 56 on UCLA yesterday! – That’s why I have to think we are far better than we showed last week)

Game Summary: ‘Cats come out fired up – yet they still are hungover a bit from last week’s rout.  Iowa pounds the ball, moves the ball, scores the ball.  I think our D comes alive, but only after giving up 10 quick points.  Offense gets a JJ TD and the ‘Cats go in down 10-7.

We come out of the second half and Iowa breaks one free but they’re rumbin’, they’re stumbin’, oh sh*t, they’re fumbin’ – Cakes Walker picks it up and goes to the HOUSE.  ‘Cats roll after this.

Score: NU 24 – Iowa 13

Play of Game: Cakes Walker with yet another fumble return for seis.  Ay Caramba!

Player to Watch: Thorson.  Yup.

Warrior to Watch: Day and Hack – mostly Hack.  Let’s see a vampire.

Other Game to Watch: MSU – Michigan.  I got Sparty.

TRENT

I feel good about this game. Think the ‘Cats are pissed about getting demolished last year in Kinnick stadium 48-7. I was there – it wasn’t pretty.

Game Summary: With Matt Harris out, how will our corners hold up? The secondary has been one of our biggest strengths all year, but I’m worried that injuries have worn them down. I see a couple long pass plays for Iowa.

For our offense, it’s all about if our offensive line can get push and allow Justin Jackson to find holes. Iowa is missing their best DE to an ACL tear, so to be fair they have had some unfortunate injuries as well.

I think this will be a close game throughout, with the Cats having a decent amount of success on the ground and struggling for the most part on offense – but connecting on a few jump balls to their receivers. I see the ‘Cats doing just enough and hold Iowa on fourth down late to win.

Score: NU 17 – Iowa 14

Play of the Game Godwin Igwebuike with a pick six.

Player to Watch: Clayton Bigsby Thorson

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack

Other Game to Watch: Alabama – A&M

PAUL

After a heartbreaker last week the Cats have a crucial choice to make. Will they wallow in their loss at Michigan as I’ve been doing all week or will they be resilient and come out swinging for the all important homecoming game against Iowa. I tend to think Michigan is in fact, very good (they’ll beat MSU this week), but not as great as they seemed last Saturday. I’m in the camp that sees the Cats getting back up and fighting, but their miserable offense won’t be enough this Saturday.

Game Summary: The Cats D regains some of the spark it lost during the Michigan game. It’s safe to say special teams won’t be giving up another opening kickoff return tomorrow. Thorson also struggles offensively as the thin O-line doesn’t help JJ get crucial 1st down yards, resulting in the 3rd and longs we’ve seen all season. Iowa and NU miss FGs back to back and the first quarter ends where it begins. The second half is where the Cats start showing some life after a great INT by the secondary followed by a JJ TD catch to the flat. Unfortunately a turnover/botched punt gives the Hawkeyes great field position which they use to score a TD. The farmhands make a FG heading into the half. Cats are down 7-10.

The 2nd half is a brutal one for all involved as NU’s offense reverts to what we all expected it would be this year. Thorson shows he’s still a wee freshman and a depleted O-line just makes it worse. Andy renews the rights to www.firemickmccall.com while the insufferable “Put Your Hands Up in the Air” song is blasted through Ryan Field’s speaker system. Luckily our defense makes the 2nd half brual for the Iowa faithful two as neither team can sew together more than one first down a drive. After a lengthy field position battle Iowa scores on a 40 yard bomb after a missed tackle by the corner in man coverage. Iowa wins 17-7.

Score: Iowa 17 – NU 7

Play of the Game Thorson pump fake to 25 yard scramble for a first down leading to an NU TD to JJ on the next play.

Player to Watch: JJ – JJ hasn’t looked great the last few games. Can he overcome the O-line issues and make some key plays on his own?

Warrior to Watch: Grayhack and his camera. Hack is allegedly filming a documentary on tailgating this weekend with a very expensive camera. I have a feeling the Hack may want to take insurance out on that baby tonight.

Other Game to Watch: Michigan – MSU. Yes. Michigan will be that good. Blue by 14. Cubbies take Game 1 with Lester on the mound as Javy’s 2 run yabo seals the deal.

ROGER

Yikes… Last week was unpleasant.

You know what else was unpleasant? Last year’s game at Iowa.

Those two unpleasantries should warrant a very pissed off and fired up bunch. If that doesn’t help here, then we just aren’t any good.

Game Summary: Iowa will receive the kick because we haven’t received the opening kick since 1946. If you haven’t noticed, the ‘Cats D has been soft on every first possession this season. That trend will continue here, but we’ll buckle down and hold them to a field goal once they get in the red zone. After that, it’s all about Clayton and Mick(ey Mouse offense). If we show some semblance of scheme change then I think we have a fighter’s chance. If not, we’re going to get killed. It’s as simple as that.

Oh…. and the trenches. Because it’s always about the trenches. Iowa is banged up, so I’m hoping we don’t have a trench performance like we did last week. I’m looking for the D line to play pissed off and the O line to play like an O line.

Ultimately, I don’t really have any confidence in Mick, so I think we’re going to stall far too often. Iowa will score just enough in what will be a horrifically boring game.

Score: Iowa 20 – NU 10

Play of Game: I really don’t think there’s going to be one. So, I’ll say JJ scores on a 5 yard TD run at some point.

Player to Watch: Thorson and Mick because…. yea.

Warrior to Watch: Rus! He’ll be filming everything he can get his camera on. Also, it’s his first game back in the West Lot this year (though he did go to the Duke game).

Other Game to Watch: MSU – Michigan.  This is pretty obvious from a B1G fan’s perspective. I have Michigan winning going away and vaulting to #6 in the nation. Don’t forget about the Cubbies on Saturday night either.

 

@ADAYNU

No pick from Andy this week.

Prediction Friday – Michigan

Fitz when seeing the opening NU line (+12) this week.

Even though Vegas doesn’t think so with the line at +7.5, the Warriors (mostly) believe. Cats all around with the exception of the Doctor!

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

After everyone picked the ‘Cats last week (and they won), here are the season pick standings to-date.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
3-1
4-1
5-0
4-1
4-1
4-1
4-1

First week Northwestern hasn’t been unanimous since Duke. Let’s see if the ‘Cats are able to keep the streak going, and raise the W flag over the Big House.

TRENT

The ‘Cats opened as 12 point underdogs in this game, which is one of the worst gambling lines I’ve seen in a long time. Northwestern and Michigan have the two best statistical defenses in the country right now – so it’s not a given that there will be 12 points scored in this game. Northwestern has the attention of the national sports media right now – this is a put up or shut up game.

Yup, it’s a big one – probably the toughest game left on our schedule (but not the most important, with Iowa coming to town next week). Michigan is a mirror image of the ‘Cats – a team with a lockdown defense led by their defensive line and secondary units. They have a strong running game and a game manager quarterback. In my mind there are two keys to this game. A. Which team will be able to run the ball most effectively? B. Which team will win the turnover battle? If we can do both, we can pull this one out.

Game Summary: Northwestern gets out to a slow start as the Wolverines get the ball first on offense, and are able to run the ball effectively and move methodically down the field. Jake Rudock pulls out a play action fake from the 15 yard line, and hits his TE for a score to take a 7-0 lead. The ‘Cats get the ball back, run Justin Jackson straight into the line three straight times and punt. From there, the defense picks up for the ‘Cats, and stops the Michigan attack. I’m not very scared of Jake Rudock, but I’m concerned about Michigan running the ball on us. We need Cakes Walker to step up big time in this game, to seal gaps and get in the backfield.

This game turns on the first play of the second quarter, as Pick VanHoose steps in front of a Rudock pass and takes the ball back to the 10 yard line. Bigsby Thorson throws a bullet to Vitale to tie the game at 7. Another FG late in the half after a Michigan fumble gives Northwestern a 10-7 lead. In the third – it’s more of the same and a lot of punting. The ‘Cats and Wolverines trade field goals, and we’re 13-10 entering the fourth. Michigan busts a huge 50 yard run for a TD to take the lead, and Fitz absolutely loses his mood on the sidelines, going full “Harbaugh.”

With the ball back in Thorson’s hands, and the Big House roaring, our freshman QB calmly leads a drive down the field. Quick throws, no huddle, a few first downs, and we’re within Wolverine territory. Thorson sets up a screen pass to JJ, who follows blockers down the sideline and into the end zone to take back the lead. Cakes Walker subsequently picks off a Rudock pass with two minutes to go, and ‘Cats win in a high scoring “Big Ten shootout” 20-17.

Game Score: 20-17 NU

Play of the Game: Cakes Walker with a pick to seal the victory.

Player to Watch: Anthony Walker. It’s games like these where our stars need to look like superstars. It’s time for the Padawan to become a Jedi Master.

Warrior to Watch: Doc Roche. He’s doing a shot for every point scored in this one. If the score goes as high as I’m predicting, patients better watch out.

Other Game to Watch: Illinois @ Iowa. Iowa beat Wisconsin last week, so a loss to the Illini here would be really nice for the ‘Cats. I don’t think it’s out of the question.

ROGER

Let’s do a quick world history lesson before we get into the details of the game.

In 1812, Napoleon got his ass waxed by the Russians. Why? Well, most historians attribute this to his invading Russia late in the summer and not being adequately prepared for the impending Russian winter.

Fast forward 130 years. Hitler and the Nazis neglected to use the aforementioned history lesson to their benefit. The Nazis subsequently froze their asses off on the Russian tundra. The result? An all too similar defeat (yay for the sake of the world!) at the Battle of Stalingrad.

History repeats itself.

So… Here we are. Heading into Week 6 and the ‘Cats are undefeated. We are nationally ranked, but the prognosticators are almost unanimous in taking Michigan this weekend. We’ve been here before. Let’s hop in the DeLorean and go back to 1995 (note: there’s something to this whole Back to the Future thing right now).

The ‘Cats had upset Notre Dame to open the season. After demolishing Indiana in week 5, the ‘Cats were nationally ranked and headed to the Big House for a week 6 showdown. All of the prognosticators took Michigan in this one. What transpired was a 19-13 ‘Cats win anchored by a defensive performance for the ages.

History repeats itself.

Game Summary: This is going to be a defensive slug fest. The question is which offense has more success in making incremental gains and avoiding turnovers. My eyes will be glued to both lines during the first quarter. Will the ‘Cats be able to get any push on the O Line? Will our interior D linemen be able to plug holes and win the point of attack? The answers to those questions will go a long way in determining the outcome.

I expect each team to play this one pretty conservatively through the first half. Each QB has had his fair share of struggles and neither Harbaugh or Fitz want to lose this game with early turnovers. Field position will be key as will the special teams units.

6-6 at the half.

Michigan will get a TD in the 3rd to go up 13-6. Eventually, the ‘Cats are going to have to open it up…. at least a bit. We’ll make our way down the field methodically after Michigan takes the lead, but we’ll be forced to settle for our third FG of the day – continuing our red zone struggles.

13-9 Michigan going into the 4th.Here’s where it gets fun and where fate takes over. The ‘Cats will be driving early in the 4th down 4. Nearing the goal line, we’re all thinking the same thing…. Not again. How are we going to finally punch it in? Well, Mick’s going to make a call for the ages here with a special someone looking down on us (RIP 46 – Forever a Wildcat). Matt Frazier is going line up on the end of the line and report as eligible on third and goal. He’ll delay a route off the line and catch a misdirection TD throw from Thorson.

‘Cats take the lead 16-13.

The defense takes over from there with Igwibuike, Lowry and Walker playing like they’re possessed. We’ll add a chip shot field goal late and hang on for the win.

19-13 ‘Cats.

Game Score: 19-13 Uh huh, you know what it is……… all we do is win.

Play of the Game: With the ‘Cats down 4 in the 4th quarter facing a third and goal, Mick calls one for the ages and Matt Frazier catches a TD pass.

Player to Watch: This is still reserved for F*cksaw Thorson (and Mick) until further notice…. especially this weekend. Mick needs to get creative here with the playbook, while still encouraging Clayton to play within himself. Michigan is going to stack the box and leave their DBs on islands, so this is your time to earn your salary Mick. On the other side of the ball, this is all about the interior linemen. Watch to see if they can stuff the run consistently.

Warrior to Watch: Paul. He’ll be there. The Warriors have attended every game this year (thanks for suffering through the heat in Durham, Grayhack). The streak continues, so the wins continue. Look for Paul to nae nae his way right out of the Big House with a W.

Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Nebraska. Can Nebraska get a much needed win and put Wisconsin at 0-2 in conference? If so, next week’s showdown in Evanston between NU and Iowa will have serious implications. Also, don’t fall asleep before the USA v Mexico Confederations Cup Playoff Game (8:30 CST on FS1). The national team will be testing out the grounds at The Rose Bowl and reporting back to the ‘Cats.

@ADAYNU

Who’s ready for some fun? All of the analysts have jumped aboard the Michigan train. A quote I’ve heard at least five times is “in the last four games.” In 2015 everyone has become a statistician – and they have become really bad ones. Lets take a look at a few numbers shall we:

Rushing Defense (yards/game) rank of Utah: 41
Rushing Defense (yards/game) rank of Michigan’s last for opponents: 83, 95, 71, 103

People are blown away at how good Michigan’s run game has looked since the Utah game. Seems to make sense to me, the teams they’ve played have been below average to awful. Northwestern comes in at 25. This is going to be the best rush defense (and defense in general) that Michigan has faced. Let’s see if this “amazing” run game can handle a real defense.

Now let’s look at the other side of the ball, and compare the offenses NU and Michigan have played against:

Total Offense (yards/game) rank of NU’s opponents: 31, 63, 62, 112 (excluding EIU as they are FCS)
Total Offense rank (yards/game) of Michigan’s opponents: 76, 111, 87, 81, 114

Northwestern has played mostly average to above average offenses and managed the level of defense we’ve seen so far. Michigan on the other hand has ONLY played below average offensive opponents (Utah is 76?!) and so I find their defensive success only somewhat impressive. As an FYI, Michigan and Northwestern’s total offensive ranks are 77 and 79th respectively.

Last stat, turnover margin. I’ll just leave this here:

NU: +4
Michigan: -2

I think the defense will struggle at times but will bend and not break and hold Michigan to only one TD. I think our offense continues to progress slightly and marches down the field for a pair of TDs. A nail-biter, but the ‘Cats come out on top.

Score: NU 20 – Michigan 13

Play of the Game: A Matt Harris interception to seal it with 1:20 left in the game

Player to Watch: Still obviously Clayton Thorson. He was atrocious on the road at Duke in a much less hostile environment. Will he continue to look improved this week or will he take a step back?

Warrior to Watch: Not sure this has ever been done before, but I’m going to say me. I’m watching the game with a collection of NU and Michigan co-workers and I might kill myself if we embarrass ourselves. If we embarrass Michigan, I’ll also probably be drunker than I’ve been at 3pm in a long, long time.

Other Game to Watch: Cal @ Utah. I’m deep in Pac-12 territory now, so these games intrigue me a little more. What happens to the Top 25 if NU and Cal both get the W this weekend?

ZVON

Ahh – the B1G Matchup Of The Week at the Big House.  No, not that Big House – though it does have a big, big, yard – where you can play football (and football they will play).  The national media this week is heavily favoring Michigan.  I heard a stat that gave them a 75% chance of winning (but as we know, stats are for LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSERS!).  I also agree with Andy, it’s annoying that people reference all Michigan triumphs and stats “in their last four games”.  Well, when they’ve only played 5, you shouldn’t discount that first game (especially since they played a good team, it was a close game, there hasn’t been a big QB change – so nothing dramatic has happened).  Let’s get down to the game summary.  I will say this: I think the ‘Cats will use the lack of respect from the national media to come out swinging and fired up – which is huge because I’d like to see a lot of these from Harbaugh.

Game Summary:‘Cats come out with a vengeance.  Big stop on Michigan’s first drive and the ‘Cats receive the punt.  We are going to try and run – we are going to successfully run on the first drive.  However, red zone struggles ensue and Mitchell gets us on the board 3-0.  Michigan gets the ball and calms down a little bit but ‘Cats bend but don’t break, 3-3 end of first quarter.  ‘Cats continue to establish the run and on a play action pass mid 2nd quarter, Thorson zings one for a TD.  Michigan answers before half and we go in 10-10.

I don’t know what was said, and I don’t really care, but the ‘Cats come out strong AF in the second half.  I’m talking some tenacious D. and some sweet offense.  Michigan is stumped.  Michigan fans are sad.  ‘Cats take over and don’t look back.  I want to be bold with this prediction – and finally maybe the ‘Cats get some love.

Game Score: NU 23, Michigan 10 — You can put it on the board, yes!

Play of the Game: Anthony ‘Cakes’ Walker with a big fumble recovery in the second half after the ‘Cats have taken the lead, giving us a short field en route to a scoring drive.

Player to Watch: Clayton ‘Bigsby’ Thorson – on the road in the large aforementioned dwelling, this guy will need to play within himself, not make mistakes, and make the smart play.  Big day for his confidence – whether it helps or hurts it.

Warrior to Watch:  Pauly ‘D’ Huettner – the kid is going into the game gunz blazin and hell, it may be a bold strategy, Cotton but ya know what, I think it will pay off for him.  Go ‘Cats!  We will all be eyes glued to the tube come 2:30 CST.

Other Game to Watch:  I’ll be at Iowa so let’s say Iowa-Illinois.  Time to get a little funky during their game and watch and cheer the ‘Cats from an Iowa watering hole.

PAUL

As you know by now, yours truly is heading up to the Big House once again to see the Cats take on the _aize and Blue. My trips to up north have been a rollercoaster with the victory in the freezing rain in 2008 (the Cats last win over _ichigan) as well as the 2012 bullshit _ichigan hail mary to tie the game in which the Cats would lose in OT. Looking to bring some great vibes this weekend as the sole Warrior in Ann Arbor, I’ll be sitting in the NU section along with 50 PIKE undergrads, so that’ll be interesting (shout out to the NU ticket office for failing to punch those in as separate orders). It’s time to Make NU Great Again! (Shirts are going fast!)
Inline image 1
 

Game Summary: Run game is going to dominate the first half as both teams seek to prevent turnovers. NU’s D is going to show right off the bat why they are considered one of the top squads in the country and U_’s D is going to leave people thinking “Why the hell were these guys ever considered one of the top squads in the country?!”. JJ puts together some good runs while the Fucksaw makes some decent short passes to keep NU moving down the field. NU comes away with a FG and TD in the first half while holding the boys in blue to just one FG (they miss a 2nd). Fitz leads the guys into the locker room at halftime up 10-3.

Spirits couldn’t be higher in Section 9 of the Big House.The third quarter is rather dull but ends on a high note for the Wolverines. After trading punts back-to-back-to-back-to-back the Cats give up a FG, but have linked together a strong drive down the field. With a 3rd and long in the redzone, Thorson throws a disastrous pick six which is returned for 96 yards to the house. The Big House is vibrating beneath our feet and the Cardiac Cats strike again….literally – an NU fan is stretchered out from the stands after suffering a mild heart attack. The fan refuses to get in an ambulance opting instead for a few hits from the defibrillator and returns to the stands. He makes a full recovery. With the Gatos down 13-10 the defenses are in lock down mode and the clock continues to wind down.

For those watching at home with the double TVs on watching the Cubs game too, it’s about to get good. The NU D finally makes a tremendous play with a pick with the Wolves threatening in NU territory. On the very next play Thorson lines up and hands off to JJ…NO WAIT…it’s a play action and he has Christian Jones down the sideline. They connect and it’s a TOUCHDOWN CATS for 65 yards!! At the same time over on TBS Kris Bryant has just gone yard putting the Cubbies up 4-2. The D locks down the rest of the game and the Cats win 17-13.

Game Score: NU 17, _ichigan 13

Play of the Game: Rookie Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson goes deep in the 4th quarter connecting with Christian Jones while fellow rookie Kris Bryant simultaneously tees off on his second at bat homering to deep center. Can you say YABOS all around?!?

Players to Watch: The O line. These guys are going to have to step it up if JJ is going to hit the holes and Bigsby is going to have time to throw. The trenches are going to be where this game is won or lost.

Warrior to Watch: Me. Gotta come out with a win for my own sanity/liver health.

Other Game to Watch:  Cubs v. Cardinals NLDS Game 2 – Dexter Fowler will be seeing the first pitch at 5:37 ET down in St. Louis as the Cubs hopefully take 1 of 2. Yours truly is going to be in the bleachers on Monday for another Arietta gem. Plus it’s a banking holiday so no work for this guy.

HACK

Let me just get this out here. I love Jim Harbaugh. He is crazy, brash, controversial and a damn good football coach. He will turn Michigan into a powerhouse again soon, but he will not win this day. Everyone and their mother is rushing to jump on the Michigan bandwagon, and the pundits have followed with near unanimous selection of the Wolverines to win this game. In the words of the poet Taylor Swift, The haters are going to hate hate hate, but (the Cats) are going to shake shake shake. Shake it off.

Sidebar: I know the dancing sideline would normally not travel to an away game, but the energy that they’ve been bringing is tremendous, so lets hope they can kick a few boosters off the plane to make room for the best dancers in the country.

Game Summary: Michigan has not seen a defense like Northwestern’s yet this year and their introduction to the Cats brand of smash mouth defense will not go well. The Wolverines gain 17 total yards of offense in the fist half as Northwestern rides a Justin Jackson touchdown to a halftime lead. With the offense sputtering, Michigan makes a change at qb. The first drive of the second half appears to be a change in fortune for Blue until one of their 3 “co-backups” hits Matthew Harris in stride for a pick six. Game Over…

Game Score: NU 21, Michigan 6

Play of the Game: Matthew Harris picks off a slant and takes it to the house.

Player to Watch: Justin Jackson – Can he carry the Cats to victory over the fighting Jims?

Warrior to Watch:  Paul Huettner: Paul is returning to the scene of possibly the worst defensive play that I’ve ever seen in Northwestern’s history. Can he reverse our fortunes?

Other Game to Watch:  Cubs vs Cardinals, because this is the year. USA vs Mexico for the Confederations Cup. These arch rivals face off with a trip to Russia on the line(This is a prize trust me.) The prediction here is Dos a Cero.

ROCHE

Look – am I picking against the ‘Cats because I feel like I might reverse-jinx them somehow? Yeah. I am. But I’m a Northwestern fan. And I can’t have nice things. I think they’re a better team than Michigan. But the ‘Cats are playing in the Big House, with a freshman QB. I dunno. ‘Go ‘Cats?

Also I delivered 3 babies before lunch today I LITERALLY BROUGHT THREE LIVES INTO THE WORLD THIS MORNING WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?

Game Summary: SO MANY PUNTS. PUNTS EVERYWHERE. SHIELD YOUR EYES LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.3-3 at halftime. ‘Cats take a 3rd quarter lead with a Miles Shuler punt return TD. Offenses continue to stall until early in the 4th quarter, where Michigan breaks off a long run for a TD. Michigan seals the win with a FG as time expires. We all have a sad.

Game Score:  Michigan 13- ‘Cats 10

Play of the Game:  Miles Shuler with a punt return TD

Player to Watch:  I want to say ‘Bigsby’ Thorson, because obvi. But I also want to say ‘Cakes Walker. I want to see him control the middle and force Rudock to make some mistakes.

Warrior to Watch: Huettner. He’s gonna be there. I look forward to his live-tweet of the Big House.

Other Game to Watch: Again, Penn State game. Who are they playing this week? Indiana. Every week I hate watch Penn State games. Everyone in Central PA hates James Franklin more and more each day

Prediction Friday – Minnetonka

Untitled

Ariana Grande loves the ‘Cats against Minnesota this week, and so do the Warriors!

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

After everyone picked the ‘Cats last week (and they won), here are the season pick standings to-date.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
2-1
3-1
4-0
3-1
3-1
3-1
3-1

Now that we’re all picking Northwestern for a second straight week, let’s see if the ‘Cats are able to keep the streak going, and purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

ROCHE:

Game Summary: Both offenses sputter for the majority of the first half. It’s an old fashioned B1G #PUNTFEST. Late in the second quarter, Bigsby finds Dan Vitale for a touchdown to take the lead 7-3.

Much of the same in the second half. Minny’s offense is somehow worse than the B1GCats’s. A late JJ long run and a FG seal the deal and I take a nap.

Final Score: NU 17 – 6

Play of the game: Has to be a defensive play, right? ‘Cakes walker with a forced fumble and a recovery.

Player to watch: As Rog said last week – this slot belongs to Bigsby until further notice.

Warrior to Watch: Z-Von. It’s fall. It will be chilly. MAYBE HE’LL BE WEARING A SWEATER I DON’T KNOW. But I do know he’s a great hugger. As the temperature drops, the hugging heats up. GO GET ‘EM ZVON

Other game to watch: I want to say Penn State – Army. PSU will prolly smoke army though. So I’ll say Iowa-Wisconsin, for obvious B1G West-related reasons.

TRENT:

Remember all those Tom Brady – Peyton Manning duels over the years, when it would be 27-27 in the third quarter and Phil Simms would cackle on the mic and say “How ’bout this? It’s an ole fashioned Western shootout!” Well, this game will be the exact opposite. The ‘Cats and Gophers both play stifling defense, try to control the line of scrimmage and pound the ball on offense. And with a brisk, cloudy and windy fall day tomorrow, I’m not expecting much action through the air. The over/under on this one is hovering around 40 – I’d say take the under. This is probably going to be an ugly game, but that’s B1G football for ya. Embrace the ugly!

Game Summary: I see the ‘Cats getting out to a quick start in this one, as they get the ball on offense first, and have some success running JJ off tackle. But the first drive stalls in the red zone, Jack Mitchell misses a chip shot into the breeze, and the fun begins. This becomes a field position game, with each punter getting almost as work as the Bears punter got last week. A shanked punt by Minnesota gives us great field position towards the end of the second quarter, and Bigsby Thorson cashes in with a play action touchdown to Mike McHugh (I’m not sure his name has been mentioned on this blog so far this year. Hiya Mike!). ‘Cats go into the half at 7-0.

The third and fourth quarters play out much the same way – Minnesota manages a field goal, but our D plays awesome throughout and shut down the fairly one-dimensional Minny offense. Cakes Walker has a day with more than 10 tackles. Down 7-3, the Gophers get the ball back and begin a drive down the field, but Godwin Igwebuike steps in front of a Mitch Leidner pass, and takes it back to the barn. No, not The Barn. The ‘Cats embrace the ugly and win, 14-3.

Game Score:  NU14 – 3

Play of the Game: Igwebuike with a pick six.

Player to Watch: Hunter Niswander, our punter.

Warrior to Watch: ZVon, our resident Minnesotan. Actually it’s all of us, as this will be a chilly day and the Fireball will be flowing like wine.

Other Game to Watch: Toledo at Ball State. This line opened at -9 for Toledo, who has beaten two Power 5 teams to-date and is getting votes in the polls. However, bettors seem to putting $$ down on the Cardinals, since the line is now down to 6.5. This will help us figure out – did we really look that bad last week, or is Ball State actually kinda good?

ZVON:

People often ask me: Are you torn when your ‘Cats play the Minnesota Golden Gophers?!  “Uffda!“, I say.  I went to NU – I’m a ‘Cats fan all the way.  No love for the Gophers, it’s just how it is.  I’m not going around yelling SKI U MAH! with all those Gophs, no way!  The team from up nort der isn’t even my second favorite in the B1G – so let’s put that to bed.  It’s going to be a nice warm day, so we could probably wear cutoffs and shorts.  Great day for football.

Game Summary: I think the ‘Cats and the Minnetonka Gophers are going to play some Duck Duck Gray Duck for most of this game.  They’ll do more of the running in circles part and less of the catching the gray duck (read: lotta punts, FG attempts, few actual scoring drives).  There will be more punts than layers in a tater tot hot dish.  Good news is, I think the ‘Cats play this game better than the Gophs.  I see JJ gaining over 100 yards, Thorson throwing one play action pass TD and at the end of the day, the ‘Cats are partying like they’re at Camp Snoopy. Minnesota’s Leidner has a couple nice runs and a TD, keeping it close all along.  The late game hold against Ball State helps the ‘Cats sustain in this game, and we get out of there.

Game Score:OH yahhhh, you betcha! NU 17, Minnesota 10

Play of the Game: Defensive stop on 4th and short late in the fourth to secure the W.  Holy Buckets!

Player to Watch: Thorson – do something big, kid!  Get all of us onboard (your boat, that is).

Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin – how many times does he call for Snax Oliver to play when the ‘Cats barely move the ball the whole third quarter? I also like nominating all the Warriors – we’ll be drinking lotsa pop and maybe some MN beers, Premium Grain Belts or Summits.

Other Game to Watch: Iowa – Wisco: This pits a couple solid West contenders against eachother – let’s see if Iowa is for real as Wisconsin seems to perennially be good.

HACK:

Game Summary: This game is going to be one of the more boring games of football in recent memory (Think back to last years Michigan Northwestern sleeper and that’s the level of bad offense that we’re looking at people). This game will come down to defense and the running game and Northwestern is better at both of those areas, so I think the Cats will win.

Game Score: NU 17 – 7

Play of the Game: Dean Lowry deflects a pass into the hands of Anthony Walker, who returns the ball to the Minnesota 23 yard line.

Player to Watch: Justin Jackson – How many times will he touch the ball?

Warrior to Watch: Trent “Greg” Bag – Something tells me ole bag will be showing the kids how to Nae Nae, if you catch my drift…

Other Game(s) to Watch: Notre Dame at Clemson: In this battle of a team that should be a top ten team and one that is but should not be, the questions is this: how many tears will ND fans cry when they lose by twenty?

@ADAYNU:

Game Summary: I think we’re all on the same page here. This isn’t going to be an offensive beauty. It will likely take a play or two like this from the ‘Cats to get out with a W. But at the end of the day, I do think the ‘Cats will make one or two more plays than the Gophers and come out on top. Clayton looks slightly improved (2 TD, 1 TO) and sends the ‘Cats to the locker room up at half. A Minny TD late makes things interesting, but NU holds on and moves to 5-0.

Game Score: NU 20 – 17

Play of the Game: A backwards pass screen to Christian Jones who then fires a bomb to Vitale who is wide open for a TD. I dare you Mick.

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson – because, duh.

Warrior to Watch: Trent. Enough said.

Other Game to Watch: Arizona @ Stanford – why, do you ask? I’ll be there – so look for me on TV rooting for the Cardinal to continue making us look good.

ROGER:

On paper, this game has the potential to be absolutely pathetically putrid, miserable, disgraceful, and horrific…. if you don’t care about either team. But guess what? We care about the ‘Cats. We care about them a lot. So we’ll take M00N 2.0 as long as the ‘Cats win. And we’ll revel in it.

All that said, I am cautiously optimistic that we aren’t going to see M00N 2.0…. at least not from NU. Hopefully we see M040N (closely resembling MORON… so that’s fun). Each team has some injuries, but I don’t really expect that to be a factor. I think a bigger factor in this game may be the conditions and how that impacts field position. It’s supposed to be windy in E-Towntomorrow, so let’s hope Niswander and Mitchell are on point. We’ll be on point in the West Lot, so they least we can ask is for our specialists to be on point on the field.

Game Summary: Barring any early special teams fun, this one should be pretty vanilla through the first quarter as each team keeps it somewhat close to the vest. The key here will be what goes on in the trenches. Can NU’s D line “win at the point of attack” (one of our favorite Fitzisms) and can our O line stand their ground and open up the occasional hole? I think so….. and that’s why I think this is going to happen:

Minnesota will take the lead 3-0 with a field goal as each team is feeling the other one up…. I mean out. As we get later in the first quarter though, we start to see NU exercising some control over both lines. This spells disaster for Minnesota’s offense while it simultaneously causes Minnesota’s defense to stack the box even more than they had been.

Please note the bold f*cking prediction here – this is where A-Bay-Day’s favorite, Mick McCall, is going to earn his salary and call one of the better games of his tenure. As the box is stacked, he’s going to get F*cksaw going with some rhythm passes. The offense is going to start to hum and look like this. This is where it will get fun because we’re going to score and the defense is going to absolutely tee off as Mitch is forced to pass.

The game will stay close through the half, but the ‘Cats will be dominating the eye test. We’ll take care of business in the 2nd half setting up a trip to Ann Arbor with a lot on the line. We’ve been there before.

Look for 3 turnovers by the Gophers. 2 picks and a fumble on a sack….. similar to lunch in a sack (nom nom nom).

Game Score: NU 27 -10

Play of the Game: Godwin with an Odell Beckham-like pick on the sideline.

Player to Watch: With the obligatory hold on this spot for Thorson, we’ll also throw Mick McCall into the mix. No, he’s not a player, but he can certainly have a big impact on this game.

Warrior to Watch: Z Von…. we haven’t seen one-eyed Z Von in a few weeks, but something suggests we may here. We’re playing Tonka (his home state) and fall will be in the air. Look for some debauchery circa 2012 West Lot in this one. Listen for the vuvuzela.

Other Game(s) to Watch: We’re going with 2 games here. Duke vs. BC and Texas Tech vs. Baylor. For our non-gamblers out there, I have to point out some history that will be taking place this weekend. The Over-Under (O/U) in the Baylor game reached 90.5 yesterday…. the highest we’ve seen in 25 years. The O/U in the Duke game is 36.5. Yes, for you mathematicians out there, we have a 54 point discrepancy in O/U’s between the high and low games this weekend. I challenge you to find a bigger range….ever.

PAUL:

Game Summary: Cats D comes up big again. Only allowing 2 FG in the first half and shutting down the offense in the second. NU relies on the run game all game.

Game Score: NU 17 – 6

Play of the Game: Warren Long 45yd touchdown run

Player to Watch: Minnys QB. If we can keep him from making big plays this is ours.

Warrior to Watch: Trent. He’s gonna get weird this week.

Other Game to Watch: Iowa v Wisconsin. Iowa topples the Badgers at home to push them into the rankings. Now all NU has to do is beat Michigan and GameDay comes to Evanston again.

Prediction Friday – Ball State

[Editor’s Note: Paul is submitting just the score under protest as he is the only one doing stuff for the group (including posting this) without a shred of appreciation from the rest of the Warriors. Look for a full out abstention next week!]

Trent’s Duke pick gives Roger the top slot. Andy’s failure to submit a pick last week puts him in dead last.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
1-1
2-1
3-0
2-1
2-1
2-1
2-1

And now this week’s predictions…

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

Paul

Game Score: ‘Cats win 24-5

Trent

It’s hard to believe we’re going into this Ball State game at 3-0, and ranked #17 in the polls. At the beginning of the year, I thought we’d be 1-2 at this point, and maybe 2-1 if we were lucky. The ‘Cats may have gotten a bit of luck to-date, but they’re a legit 3-0 and look like they can legitimately compete in the B1G West this year.

I’m pumped for this game, the “Late Night Bowl”. And no, I’m not calling it that just because it’s a night game – it just so happens that former Late Show host David Letterman is an alumnus of Ball State, and his replacement and superior Stephen Colbert is a Northwestern grad. Just as Colbert took the job from Letterman (or Letterman decided to retire, whatever) we’re going to take this one from the Cardinals.

Game Summary: I see the ‘Cats getting out to a slow start in this one, as Ball State keeps it close for the first quarter and a half and keeps our offense at bay (not a very difficult task if they play like they did at Duke last week). An Anthony “Cakes” Walker strip sack changes the momentum of the game midway through the second quarter, as Walker picks up the loose ball and takes it back for a TD. It’s all ‘Cats from there on out, as our defense completely shuts down the Ball State offense, which is led by a freshman QB, and the ‘Cats offense capitalizes off some good field position all day to manufacture some points. This should be a good game to build up Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson’s confidence, and with veteran WR Cam “Bam Bam” Dickerson back on the field, he at least has another capable target.

Game Score: ‘Cats roll, 27-6

Play of the Game: Anthony “Cakes” Walker builds off his national defensive player of the week honors by returning a fumble to the house.

Player to Watch: Justin Jackson/Cam Dickerson: For JJ, I’ll be watching to see how many carries he gets in this game. This “should” be a win for the ‘Cats, so Fitz should definitely spread the carries out and give some more PT to Vault and Long, as JJ is being run into the ground so far this year. For “Bam Bam” Dickerson, I’ll be watching to see if he can get some separation from the coverage. We need another capable WR who can get open and give our young QB some easy, open throws.

Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin – a newly anointed Kellogg student, will he be able to get out of class in time to make the game? If the ‘Cats win, will he and the rest of the Warriors be dancing in the dark?

Other Game to Watch: BYU at Michigan. This should be a tough one for the Wolverines, with the ranked Mormons coming to town. BYU is a legit squad – they’ve beaten two capable teams in Nebraska and Boise State, and should have pulled the upset last week at UCLA. If Michigan wins this, however, they’ll likely be ranked in a few weeks when the ‘Cats come to the Big House – which would at least give us another ranked team on our schedule to build up that SOS.

ZVON

The ‘Cats are in a good spot.  3-OHHHHHH is better than most people expected for these young felines.  No overlooking this game – and I don’t think the ‘Cats do.  Our D is stout.  Our defense is good.  Our defense is unreal.  Our offense, at the moment, is not.  That’s okay – get some nice Thorson and JJ runs and maybe a touchdown pass or two and we’ll be BALLLLLLIN’ against these Charlie Cardinal’s (we’ve already manhandled one cardinal, let’s do so again) that hail from a the 51st state, Ball.

Game Summary: ‘Cats come out rumblin’, not stumblin’ nor fumblin’, on their first drive and punch it down BSU’s stupid throat.  We take no prisoners.  JJ gets 50 yards at least on the drive (all purpose) and he ends it with a TD of his own.  Ball State receives kickoff.  Ball State runs three plays and punts.  The ‘Cats once again run it down their dumb dumb throats.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  ‘Cats are up 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.  21-3 at half.  Then we pump the breaks some but not too much, ‘Cats win 31-9.

Game Score: ‘Cats deflate the Ball, 31-9

Play of the Game: Thorson runs one for 40+ while breaking tackles and then pulling away from the D.

Player to Watch: I too like Cam Dickerson here.  The kid is back, he’s healthy, and he’s ready to play.  He’s made some huge plays in the past, let’s see what he can do.  Fun fact: he once dunked a ball on me in a pickup game.  Can he dunk Ball State?

Warrior to Watch: Paul Huettner – he’s been on edge lately.  Can we get him to relax and have some fun with the kids?  If so, and the ‘Cats do as they should, we’ll be dancing in the moonlight.

HACK

Yeah though I walked through the valley of hottness, I had no fear for Morty was with me. Despite the unbearable heat last week, my merry band of Cat supporters were able to bring home a big W. So, the Cats are now 3 and 0, hit it Nelly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeZZr_p6vB8 . A side note the uniforms that the Cats wore last week were pure fire. Major props to Under Armor.

Game Summary: Ball State is starting a Qb with less experience than Clayton and the CATS defense is BADD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB-awm6vsd0 . After what we saw from Kevin Hogan last weekend compared with how he played against the Cats, I think its safe to assume that Ball State’s Qb1 will not be having a good day. Northwestern’s goal in this game should be to get Clayton back on track with short easy throws that take advantage of his ability to move. With a heavy dose of the run game, the Cats should have a relatively easy Saturday.

Game Score: ‘Cats dominate 42 – 3

Play of the Game: Clayton Thorston gets his swagger back and rushes for a 54 yard td on the first drive.

Player to Watch: Traveon Henry – He had some bone crushing hits last week and some impressive dance moves on the sideline. Can he improve upon both?

Warrior to Watch: Paul Huettner: Not sure what’s been up with Paulie lately, but he seems tense. Is he going to let off a legendary amount steam at the tailgate? Only time will tell…

Other Game to Watch: Alabama vs LA Monroe : We’re not so much watching the game here, but rather watching the interactions between Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban. The internet damn near broke yesterday with Pope watch and the Kiffin rumors.( I would like to apologize to his holiness for including him in a sentence with Lane Kiffin.) Were any of the rumors true? Were they all?

DAY

First off – shouts to InsideNU on this great highlight of why we are in trouble (with a capital T) if the offense (and Mick McCall) don’t get their shit together fast. I don’t think it should be too costly tomorrow should our offense stumble, but its gonna cost us soon.

Game Prediction: Unfortunately, I don’t think this is going to be the knockout win everyone is hoping for. Ball State will put up the highest point total of any Wildcat opponent this season and our offense will still look lost (and maybe at some points completely incompetent). A ‘Cats defensive score and a few defensive breakdowns by Ball State allow NU to sneak out with a win and a 4-0 start, but no one feels good about this one in Evanston (or San Francisco).
Score: 21-17 NU
Play of the Game: Matt Harris pick-6 to put this one away.
Player to Watch: Normally this is reserved for a player you think is going to have a big (or breakout) game. I’m going to say Clayton Thorson here, but not because I’m expecting him to break out. Can this guy prove that he is capable of throwing the ball and running our offense? He looked flat out terrible last week – hoping he can turn it around and give us some signs of hope.
Warrior to Watch: Roger Rankin – a night game, not much drama in the air, lots of other college football on in the West Lot… the conditions are perfect for Uncle Roger to get nice and drunk and end up at Buffalo Joe’s after the game.
Other Game to Watch: Ohio @ Minnesota. Like Trenten, I’ll keep it here in the B1G. Can the Gophers (like us) get their act together on offense? Can a good MAC team in Ohio exploit a stout Minnesota defense? Should be a good barometer for next week.

RANKIN

3 and Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I didn’t see this coming. But, the ‘Cats D has been stout and this team deserves to be 3-0 after some spectacular defensive performances. If the offense figures itself out (even to a degree), we could be in for a fun ride. Side note: could you imagine how good this team would be if we had the ’00 offense or the ’05 offense or the ’08 offense or even the ’12 offense? Talks of making the college football playoff wouldn’t be that absurd in that scenario. It is absurd for now though….

Game Prediction: I really cannot imagine Ball State posing more of a threat than Stanford and/or Duke here. That said, the ‘Cats need to show up and take care of business. We haven’t had to play from behind yet this year (I’m not counting 3-0 and 7-0 in the first half)….. and we won’t have to here either.
Despite the musical chairs being played on the offensive line, the ‘Cats should dominate the line of scrimmage. Look for big days from all 3 running backs (maybe even some Anderson action). I wish we could get Clayton going with some vertical shots, but I really don’t see that here. Fitz will keep everything close to the vest prior to B1G play if he can.
On defense, look for the D line to dominate (thanks to the secondary). The ‘Cats didn’t have a sack last week at Duke, but that’s somewhat misleading. The coverage in the secondary was on point the entire game and Sirk checked down more than any QB I’ve ever seen. I don’t expect this freshman QB for Ball State to do the same. He’s going to throw a few into heavy coverage and he’s also going to be picked up off the Ryan Field grass a half dozen times.
‘Cats pull away in the second half by completing controlling the clock and both lines of scrimmage.
Oh…. and Ball State doesn’t score a point. This D is out to prove something.
Score: 27-0 NU
Play of the Game: Ifeadi Odenigbo absolutely laying the hammer with a blind side sack and forced fumble.
Player to Watch: This is reserved for Clayton “F*cksaw” Thorson until further notice. No need to add any commentary here.
Warrior to Watch: Paul – As others have noted, Paul has been a bit tense recently. With the Warriors now dispersed throughout the country, there’s less operational support in the Chicagoland area prior to Saturdays. Paul, the man in control that he is, has taken on more responsibility than in year’s past. While we’re all appreciative of that, it has led to a few hostile emails recently. I expect Paul to get after it on Saturday night. He’ll be showing everyone some of his night moves.
Other Game to Watch: Georgia Tech (-9) @ Duke – This is pretty obvious. I like Sirk and the Blue Devils in this one. I think they have a good chance of exploiting the GT secondary with vertical shots…. something that wasn’t there last week. If this is the case, NU’s defense will only be further validated and the rest of the B1G should be very scared… because there aren’t any more Kevin Hogan’s or Thomas Sirk’s on our schedule.

ROCHE

Game Prediction: No babies last week, guys. Not one patient delivered during my shift last Saturday. W-T-Heck.

Anywho – ‘Cats. They’ll prolly win. I think their defense is going to do some work on Ball State, and I think Bigsby is going to have a big (if not boring) game.

Score: 37-10 CATS

Play of the Game: “Cakes” Walker with a safety early to set the tone

Player to Watch: Clayton Thorson. Obvs. How will be improve. Also, side note. Are we using Bigsby as a nickname or are we using F*cksaw? I like both

Warrior to Watch: I think Paul needs a big ol’ hug. I’d be happy to give one if I were in town. I’ll designate ZVon to give him one instead. He’s a good hugger.

Other Game to Watch: Who’s Penn State playing this week? San Diego State? That. Watching Penn State not live up to expectations while living in central PA is the definition of schadenfreude. GO AZTECS

 

Prediction Friday – Duke

Duke vs. NU (Basketball Syle)

Duke vs. NU (Basketball Syle)

[Editor’s Note: Roche was unable to send in a game prediction last week, but in a last minute text to the Warriors predicted the ‘Cats to win 100-0. Sneakily the most accurate prediction of the week. ADay has not submitted a prediction.]

No crazy moves to the season rankings as everyone took NU last week.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
1-1
2-0
2-0
1-1
1-1
1-1
1-1

And now this week’s predictions…

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

 

Dr. Roche

I’m working labor and delivery all day Saturday. I won’t be watching the game.

Thanks, and have a great day

Game Summary: JJ with two TDs, Mikey catching three babies.  [Editor’s Note: The rest of the Warriors are taking the over.]

Final Score: NU 24 – Duke 21

Player to Watch: JJ. He’ll need to do some heavy lifting to help out ol’ Bigsby Thorson.

Play of the Game: Late 4th down stand by the defense to seal the deal.

Warrior to Watch: Rusty. I hope his game updates from the stadium are consistent and coherent, even as the game goes on and the alcohol accumulates.

Other Game to Watch: PSU – Rutgers. I live in Nittany Lion Land. Will Penn State be able to walk past the dumpster fire that is Rutgers? Will my friends and neighbors continue to call for Franklin’s head? (Both answers are almost certainly ‘YES.’)

Roger

The ‘Cats are ranked and headed South. So, that means this game is going to come down to one thing……. David Shaw.

David Shaw?!?! Yea…. him.

We still really don’t know how good we are. A lot of our prognostications here are dependent on our win against Stanford. I have no idea how good/bad Stanford is. Stanford was pretty good last year and very good the year before, but it’s entirely possible they are regressing annually. I think the verdict is still out to a degree on David Shaw. Has he been riding the coattails of Harbaugh for a few years now? He’s certainly still making a living off of Jim’s recruiting classes.

Anyways, I actually happen to think Shaw is a pretty good coach who will continue to maintain a level of success at Stanford. He may not be Harbaugh, but I’m cautiously optimistic that our Stanford win will look pretty impressive by season’s end.

So, with that….. my game summary.

Game Summary: This game will be won or lost in 3 areas – the ‘Cats ability/inability to pressure Sirk, the ‘Cats ability/inability to run the ball consistently and Thorson’s ability to play within himself and not get flustered. Special teams may also prove to be a factor. We’re notorious for having issues there and Duke can sure as hell capitalize on that with one of the better units in the country. Hopefully, Doc and Fitzy have a quality gameplan there. Hint: Don’t have Niswander kick a line drive when you call a rugby punt to the right side of the field a la the 2008 Alamo Bowl and Jeremy Maclin.

Let’s start with area #1 – the ‘Cats ability to pressure Sirk. Sirk is presumably going to get his yards through the air, but if the ‘Cats can pressure him enough to force some dumb throws (he still hasn’t thrown a pick in his career), then that will be huge in determining the outcome of this game. Pay attention to Lowry and Odenigbo here. Duke’s O Line may want to do the same. I think the advantage goes to the ‘Cats here. This D line doesn’t appear to be a joke.

Area #2 – the ‘Cats ability to run the ball consistently. This is a bit of a wild card simply because I don’t have the slightest idea what kind of looks Duke is going to give us defensively. They play a base 4-2-5, but I expect Jeremy Cash to play a bit of a hybrid DB/LB (read: Brad Phillips) role in this game to help stuff the box and force Thorson to throw. As has been well documented, our offensive line has been playing musical chairs. Despite that and their inability to consistently pass protect, I was pleasantly surprised (unlike Fitz) at how they seemed to win at the point of attack on running plays against Stanford. The Duke D line is undersized and not likely to be as good as a Stanford D line, so I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. I give the advantage to the ‘Cats here as well, but I’m less sure than I am on area #1.

Area #3 – Thorson’s ability to play within himself. This is a complete wild card. The dude had some really rocky throws against Stanford and even, to a degree, last week against EIU. That’s not going to work against a very good secondary with NFL talent. On top of that, Thorson has never played on the road (albeit this isn’t the most hostile place). I don’t think Duke’s D will end up being as good as Stanford’s, but Duke will certainly give Thorson more looks and try to confuse him more often than Stanford. Clayton “Bigsby F*cksaw” Thorson’s success is largely dependent on area #2. No advantage here. Huge determining factor.

So, how’s this going to play out? My hope and mildly optimistic prediction is that NU has some success controlling the lines of scrimmage. A lot of people talk about skill positions (and for good reason), but the deciding factor in damn near every game is the line of scrimmage. We should know early what we’re working with here.

Duke will receive the opening kick and……… BAM! DeVon Edwards gets absolutely rocked setting the tone for the rest of the game. Early pressure on Sirk and an early turnover leads Duke to question their physicality. The ‘Cats pound the ball and Thorson keeps it in check through the air when needed. Despite the relatively close score, by the second half it becomes apparent what’s going down. The ‘Cats D is legit. NU controls the ball for 12 minutes in the 4th quarter and runs out the clock up by two scores.

Later that evening, Stanford goes into the Coliseum and knocks off USC. Back in Evanston, Gangsta’s Paradise is blaring and locals are wondering if they’ve gone back in time 20 years.

Nope. We didn’t go back in time. But the schedule looks favorable and this is starting to feel like ’95.

Next up….. NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT GAME! Rest assured, the West Lot will be bumpin.

Final Score: NU 23 – Duke 12

Player(s) to Watch: Ifeadi Odenigbo and Dean Lowry. Look for them to tee off on passing downs against inexperienced tackles.

Play of the Game: The opening one. DeVon Edwards returns the kick into a brick wall and the tone is set from the beginning. #ACCSpeed….. meet the B1G. Buckle up. It’s the law.

Warrior to Watch: Uh…. Grayhack. This is about as obvious as it gets. Hack heads south (from his current residence in Richmond) for his first game of the year. He’ll be joining a rather raucous group of regular tailgaters to ensure that the Warriors make their presence felt at every NU game this year. God speed, Hack. If only you had a purple vuvuzela too.

Other Game to Watch: (Stanford @ USC is obvious here, but that was already mentioned below) Cal (-6.5) @ Texas. If Goff torches this Texas D like I think he’s going to, then there’s a very real possibility that Texas goes 1-5 to start the season. Having just fired their athletic director, Texas is a hot mess. Charlie Strong might want to start looking for another gig himself. I hope like hell the tv crew pans the crowd late in the 2nd half, so we can see what oil money looks like when it’s pissed off.

Paul

First road game of the year!! The ‘Cats are coming out of the gates ranked, but as Andy noted that ain’t always a good thing. Will Duke’s high octane offense burn the Wildcats down or will our defense go all EPA on them and limit their emissions?!

Game Summary: The Cats are going to have to step it up on defense this week in order to limit the offensive flow of the Blue Devils. I see the ‘Cats giving up two TDs in the first half while the offense struggles to get into the endzone even after making it into the red zone 3 times. Mitchell nails all three FGs, however, all from within 35 yards. 14-9 Duke at the half. NU gets their only offensive TD of the game on their first 2nd half drive while Duke answers with their own TD after picking off Clayton “Fucksaw” Thorson on NUs own 30 while also tacking on another FG. Heading into the fourth the ‘Cats nail another FG from 45 yards out to go down two points and Duke shifts to the run game to eat up the clock. In a Jamal Charles-esq sequence, Anthony “Texas Ranger” Walker creates a fumble which NU returns to the Duke end-zone. CATS WIN!!

Final Score: NU 26 – Duke 24

Player to Watch: Jack Mitchell – NU is going to have 5 FG attempts in this game. Look to baby-faced Jack to make 4.

Play of the Game: Anthony “Texas Ranger” Walker causes a fumble which is returned by Odenigbo for a TD

Warrior to Watch: Also have to go with the old Rusty here. Let’s just hope he makes it into the game and gets his primetime tailgating footage for his future-Sundance Film Festival winning documentary.

Other Game to Watch: Nebraska v. Miami (FL) Two old-school powerhouses going at it in afternoon primetime on ABC. I’ll be rooting for my childhood team. Go Huskers!

Hack

As the sun rises in the East, a caravan of Grayhack men will mount up to travel two long hours to Durham, North Carolina. Upon arrival, we will be meeting up with Blake Yocom and his band of merry men. Our exploits will be legendary and no doubt recorded by Master Yocom on the snapchat. They may not be appropriate for all ages, so hide yo kids hide yo wife, and then tune in.

Game Summary: This game is going to come down to how well Northwestern tackles on the outside, which means the Cats need big games out of the two linebackers not named Walker and their nickel back. I believe that they’ll get them. From what I’ve seen thus far, the Cats should be able to boss the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and Justin Jackson should have a field day. Clayton just has to play turnover free football and be a  threat in the run game. I think he will probably throw a pick or two and that could spell disaster for the Cats, however they have too much talent not to win this game.

Final score: NU 24 – Duke 12

Player to watch: Justin Jackson – He’s going to rush for 150 plus in this game and a score.

Play of the game: The F*cksaw trucks a Duke corner on his way into the endzone for Northwestern’s second score of the game.

Warrior to Watch: Warrior by Blood Timmy Grayhack will be attending his first college tailgate as a college student. I will be watching him so he is not arrested by the police.

Other Game to Watch: Jayceon Terrell Taylor aka The Game: What has Compton’s other rapper been up to lately?

ZVE

The ‘Cats always do this to us.  They always get hopes up only to squash them.  They build us up, only to inevitably break us down.  They prop us up, only to blow us over.  They make us say the beer is half full but then it’s just a few suds.  It’s their M.O., and it seemingly always has been.  However, this is a typical ‘Cats fan’s thinking: this time (save for this game), the ‘Cats do something great.  I’m excited for it.  I’ll also probably bet on it so I’m hoping for something nice.  Let’s get to the summary.

Game Summary: I don’t know how great we will start but I do think our first half will be a success.  I know Duke’s QB is an elusive fella but we’ve got Anthony “Cakes” Walker to spy this cat and just disrupt the field.  Look for him to have a huge game (one turnover for sure) and double digit tackles.  When we win, he gets B1G D player of the week for the second time this year, #WalkerStrong.  ‘Cats lead half, 14-10.  That includes one of JJ’s TDs in ya face and a Thorson-orchestrated TD (throwing or running – this guy will take what he gets).  Second half the ‘Cats get down early, 17-14 off a Duke TD from their QB Sirk (7 yard scramble).  Mitchell splits the uprights two more times, once in the last 2 minutes and the ‘Cats prevail.

Final Score: NU 20 – Duke 17

Player to Watch: Dan “Dick” Vitale – can this guy catch anymore?

Play of the Game: ‘Cats secondary with a tip-drill interception early fourth quarter to stop the Duke drive.

Warrior to Watch: It’s gotta be Rusty Grayhack.  First game attendance of the year IN enemy territory?  This kid is gonna show them us Nerds of Northwestern can outsmart ’em, outplay ’em, and outdrink ’em (and out vampire ’em).

Other Game to Watch: I’m going to go VT – Purdue.  I might put a C note on VT to cover the spread – that would be nice.  Going to take the games in from Vegas – so I’ll have to see which ones tickle my fancy.

Trent

I’ve been saying since the beginning of the year that I thought Duke was a worse matchup for us than Stanford, which many thought was a crazy statement. Well, I stand by that and don’t feel good about this game. The ‘Cats are ranked and now have some pressure on them (although they are underdogs in this game), and this is Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson’s first game on the road. Stanford was a slow, plodding, methodical team – and our defense shut that puppy down. Duke is the opposite – high tempo, high octane, speedy – I’m talking some Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (RIP) shit. I think our defense has gotten some experience against this up-tempo style of play in practice, since our offense does tend to run the hurry-up, but this will be a different animal. Although our D has given up only a handful of yards and six total points on the year – we haven’t faced an offense of this caliber to this point. The Blue Devils have athletes at every position, and an experienced, dual threat quarterback. We can’t expect the same level of defensive dominance against Duke that we’ve seen through our first two games.

So that’s the D – how about the O? This is flat out a bad matchup for us. From what I’ve read, Duke’s biggest strength is their secondary. That doesn’t bode well for a freshman quarterback in his first road game. If Duke is smart, they will stack the box and challenge our wide receivers to beat them one on one on the outside. Guess what – we have 1.5 competent D1 wide receivers on the team, and they have issues getting separation. Our best chance of winning this game is to run, run and run some more – but if Duke plays this right they will take that away and make us beat them through the air. Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson hasn’t really had to play from behind yet, but I’m anticipating he’ll need to in this game. We’ll see how he holds up once the pressure is on against the Blue Devils. Overall, the ‘Cats have already exceeded expectations for the year, and it’s moments like this where the team likes to punch us in the gut.

Game Summary: I see a bad start for the ‘Cats, and a quick one for the Devils. Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson tosses his first career INT on the first drive, which the Blue Devils take back to the barn for a 7-0 lead. A three and out stall by the offense, a shanked punt, and a solid Duke drive later, we’re down 14-0. Now Thorson is down two touchdowns, on the road (although I’ve been in the Duke football stadium and it’s a joke) and will need to get away from our run-first game plan to bring us back. Fitz didn’t even let Thorson open it up against an FCS opponent, which tells me he doesn’t have faith in the kid gunning the ball. In the second, Clayton does complete a few passes, gets us within field goal range, and Mitchell drains one to take us into the half down 14-3. In the third, the ‘Cats come out of the gate pounding the ball, and Jackson breaks off a big one to get us back within four, 14-10. A turnover by the D gets us the ball in Duke territory, and Mitchell hits another to get us within one point. Then, the wheels fall off as Duke hits a huge pass play to increase their lead to 21-13. A botched snap leads to another turnover by the ‘Cats offense, and Duke cashes in to seal the game in the fourth. The Warriors drink. Fin.

Final Score: NU 13 – Duke 28

Player to Watch: Clayton “Bigsby” Thorson. Obviously my prediction above spells the whole story. First road game, freshman QB – how will he handle adversity? If he gets down on the road like I’m predicting, how will he respond?

Play of the Game: Justin “Action” Jackson breaks off a big 30 yard run for the TD. He’s due.

Warrior to Watch: Zak Bergman (WLW by proxy this weekend). Zak and I will be watching the Cubs of Chicago face the Cardinals of St. Louis at historic Wrigley field during the Duke game. We may or may not be able to watch the game on Watch ESPN within Wrigley – TBD. Regardless, we’ll be partying like med school is out for the summer. The ‘Cats tend to do well in games that I miss (a rare occasion, I might add), so hoping that mojo continues for this one.

Other Game to Watch: A new category add for this week – this space is meant for another important game that we’ll be keeping our eye on this weekend. This weekend it’s USC -Stanford. My sister, a USC student, and dad will be at this game. So, in summary, the Staffords will be watching two Stanford games this year. I’m torn on this one – USC’s got a legit chance at the playoff and I like my sister, but a Stanford win on Saturday would help the Cats tremendously. If Stanford and the ‘Cats both win on Saturday, the Warriors will be refreshing ESPN.com every secondSunday morning until the rankings come out. In that scenario, I can’t even predict where we’d be ranked, but it’d be pretty darn high.