Homecoming is here! The Nebraska Cornhuskers come into Evanston to take on the ‘Cats, after Northwestern pulled out a big road win in East Lansing last week. Even though the Huskers are 0-5, the Warriors are wary of a close game this week and split on the outcome.
While some of the Warriors had a rough night at the Mark II Lounge last night in honor of Homecoming, the group will be ready to go bright and early for the game tomorrow. If the ‘Cats win, rumor has it a repeat trip to the Deuce may be in order. Doc Roche did not submit a prediction this week, so instead his selection this week is brought to you by our favorite bar. On to the picks…
Apathy went from a 10 a few weeks ago to a 6 last week and now it’s actually rather low. I’d give it a 3.5 at the moment. As Bag alluded to, the ‘Cats still technically control their own destiny in an awful division and there’s reason to believe the season isn’t entirely shot after the last 2 weeks. That warrants a 3.5.
I don’t know what to make of last week. Mark Dantonio is consistent. That’s why his teams have been pretty good for the past decade. But, that’s a double edged sword for him. With his consistency comes consistent losing to the ‘Cats. I foreshadowed the victory in a post that didn’t see the light of day (thanks, Paul) and I figured it would be the result of an MSU team unwilling to deviate from their pro style offense and run stuffing defense. That’s exactly what happened. NU lives for that shit. It means MSU levels the playing field and doesn’t require us to ever make an adjustment. That’s great because we probably wouldn’t make the necessary adjustments.
I think Nebraska is likely to be predictable as hell this week too. There’s only one problem there. Nebraska’s predictability doesn’t play into our hands the way MSU’s pro style garbage does. Their predictability means they’ll have a QB running wild every other play. When he’s not doing that by design, he’ll be heaving shit downfield to receivers running verticals and deep posts. We suck at defending that. I don’t see any reason why we won’t suck at defending that on Saturday. The Corn People will make plenty of mistakes and get called for plenty of penalties (they love the yellow flag), but they are also going to score points on NU’s defense.
So…. we turn to the offensive side of the ball. Nebraska’s defense sucks. There’s no way around that. They are unbelievably bad against the run. That said, it doesn’t appear as though we can run the ball…. regardless of the opponent. There’s no way around that either. So, Clay Dog’s going to be airing it out again this week if Mick has any sense. I expect that to work for the most part. The real question here is how much is “the most part”. That comes down to 2 things which will decide the game:
- Does Mick actually have any sense?Per the above, if we can’t run the ball then we should abandon the run immediately. Who gives a shit how we get yards. Passing on first, second and third down last week was a hell of a lot more effective than throwing an incomplete pass on first down, trying to run on second down and losing three yards and then getting behind the chains for third and eternity. Simply put, don’t run the ball if you can’t. The Air Raid is a thing and it can work.
- Will Mick roll the pocket?Clayton will make plays and we’ll get yards even if we play this game straight up with the conventional philosophy of trying to create a viable pocket. Having said that, the pocket will routinely break down and stall drives. We’ve seen this time and time again already this year. Last week, our good friend Mick made his first in game adjustment in 23 months and actually rolled the pocket to buy Clayton some more time and open up the field. It worked pretty damn well. If the pocket is breaking down early in this one, Mick better look to roll (preferably right more often than left).
Here we are again. The game comes down to Mick. These aren’t big asks. He successfully accomplished both feats last week. I’m cautiously optimistic he’ll do the same again this week.
Don’t let me down, Mick.
Game Score: ‘Cats 37 – Huskers 31
Play of the Game: After a miserable three and out to start the game that includes a sack due to a collapsed pocket, a run for -3 yards and a screen pass for 4 yards, Mick rolls the pocket on the first play of the next drive and Clayton hits Nagel for a 64 yard TD. Nagel’s first score of the year.
Player to Watch: Joe Gaziano. Nebraska’s QB (another Martinez) will get plenty of yards with his feet in this game. The ‘Cats need to get pressure and a few sacks to create some long down and distance plays.
Warrior to Watch: Paul. It has to be Paul this week. The guy lives for Homecoming.
Other Game to Watch: Wisconsin @ Michigan. Will Wisconsin lose a few conference games and finally make the B1G West interesting.
Kudos to the three Warriors who rightly sniffed out a fraudulent MSU last week and picked the ‘Cats to win – in a blog post that, like many of our posts, never saw the light of day. You’ll have to take my word for it.
The ‘Cats played their best game of the season on defense and actually scored in the second half for once. This season is starting to feel a lot like 2016 – two years ago we started out 1-3 with an atrocious loss at home (losing to Illinois State in 2016, and Akron this year) and then started out 2-1 in conference play with the second win coming on the road in East Lansing. All of a sudden, we went from a completely throw-away year to having irrational thoughts about competing for a B1G championship, and doing some monkey math to project out where the other B1G West teams could pick up losses. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m such a sucker. But, hope springs eternal in the fall.
Setting aside the games down the road and the path ahead of us, let’s look at this week. I’m scared shitless. Nebraska is 0-5 and coming into Evanston on Homecoming. Scott Frost, the foretold savior of the Huskers, is now on the verge of coaching Nebraska to their first ever 0-6 start. Meanwhile, the UCF team he left down in Orlando (shout out Winter Park, FL where I’m from originally) is 5-0 and looking like they could go undefeated for a second straight year. Nebraska has already lost at home to Troy, and narrowly avoided defeat at home to Akron (just like the ‘Cats) after the game was cancelled. So…there should be nothing for us to worry about, right?
Wrong. All the factors are lined up for an absolutely backbreaking loss. This is an absolute must win game for the Huskers and for Scott Frost – he simply cannot go 0-6 to start off his Nebraska coaching career. For some reason I’ve watched a lot of Huskers football this year, and they’re not as bad as their record indicates. They have a talented freshman QB who makes stupid mistakes but is an athlete and has speed. They can move the ball on offense, but they just make absolutely horrible mistakes at the worst times – whether it’s a crucial turnover or a bad holding call. They should have beaten Colorado in week two – a Buffaloes team which is now 5-0 and ranked in the top 25.
I think the Huskers are going to move the ball on the ‘Cats, and their QB Martinez will pick up several conversions on third down with his legs. Please, please put Paddy Fisher on the QB as a spy. I beg you. The weakest spot for Nebraska is their run defense – a weakness that the ‘Cats undermanned RB squad may not be able to exploit. I see a high scoring game that goes back and forth, with neither team ever taking control. The ‘Cats have a shot to tie late with a FG…but it’s no good. The Huskers ruin the ‘Cats on Homecoming – hope I’m wrong.
Game Score: ‘Cats 27 – Huskers 30
Play of the Game: Bowser finally gets some PT and busts a big run up the middle. The West Lot rejoices.
Player to Watch: Isaiah Bowser. If there was ever a game to let loose the bruising freshman RB, it’s this one. Nebraska’s interior run defense is atrocious.
Warrior to Watch: Paul. It’s homecoming and the Pike alumni will be out. ‘Nuff said.
Other Game to Watch: Chiefs @ Pats on Sunday Night Football. The first ever matchup of the two best QBs of all time.
Game Summary: No one has ever called East Lansing the land of dreams, but last Saturday the Cats awoke from a season-long nightmare to defeat Felton Davis and his merry band of mediocre football players. The Victorious Cats return home to face the defeated Nebraska Cornhuskers, but this isn’t the cakewalk people are predicting. While Nebraska has yet to win a game, they have talent, so unlike next week vs Rutgers, the Cats will actually have to show up and win the battle on the line of scrimmage. This game will be won in the trenches and the Cats should actually dominate here. Expect a heavy dose of Solomon Vault and John Mooooten as Nebraska’s defense is shredded like pulled chicken. Nebraska will move the ball, but their mistake-prone offense will shoot itself too many times in the foot to actually make this a game. Cats win big.
Game Score: ‘Cats 49 – Huskers 21
Play of the Game: Flynn Nagel completes a quarterback throwback to Clayton Thorson for a 47-yard touchdown. JK its goes to Kyric Mc(Donalds)Gowan and let me just say I’m loving it.
Player to Watch: Earnest Brown 4.0 – I saw some nice plays from him last week. Time to take the next step
Warrior to Watch: Paul – His girlfriend is in town on homecoming… How will he split his time between the Alumni and her?
Other Game to Watch: Bears vs Dolphins – The will Ryan Tannehill be able to walk after game
Game Summary: This one is always a big game for me because I was raised a Husker fan (the cornhead will NOT be coming out this year). My dad, a born and bred Nebraskan will be in attendance for the tailgate and game and he desperately wants a win. Going to be tense in the stands. I also see this as a make or break game for the Cats and one that will help boost ND ticket prices and fan interest for what will surely be the best home game in years. Hopefully last week wasn’t a fluke and the Cats got their shit together.
NU will have to neutralize Martinez and force turnovers which have been the Huskers’ Achilles heel this season. I’m hoping for a lot of offense here as NU figures out their run game against a terrible Nebraska ground defense and Clayton “Bigbsy” Thorson keeps threading the needle on passes like we saw last week in East Lansing. Nebraska will stay in it the entire game and there will be 6 lead changes so prepare to get on the Cardiac Cats Express. Luckily, a busted coverage pass to Flynn Nagel seals the deal in Q4.
Game Score: ‘Cats 38 – Cornhuskers 35
Play of the Game: Thorson places a perfect 44 yard pass to Flynn Nagel for his first TD of the season.
Player to Watch: O-Line. Going to need to protect Bigsby in this one if we can’t get the run game going.
Warrior to Watch: ZVon. Seems like the time is right for the purple suit to come out.
Other Game to Watch: Wisco / Michigan. Who’s going to come out on top of this marquee West vs. East matchup? My money is on Wisco.
Game Summary: I’ve been doing some mental reflection. Do we think we turn things around in October in recent years because we start slow and make adjustments …. or is it that the Big Ten West is just that bad? I’m aware MSU is not in the West, but our upcoming slate seems….manageable despite the fact that… ya know… we lost to Akron. Speaking of bad, Nebraska is bad. They will score points on us. It should be an entertaining game to watch. I think the ‘Cats squeak out another to get back to .500.
Game Score: ‘Cats 28 – Cornhuskers 27
Play of the Game: Trick play! Something fun happens.
Player to Watch: Defense in general. We haven’t been forcing any turnovers to switch the field and flip the momentum.
Warrior to Watch: Paul. He loves homecoming. All of his Pike buddies will be there.
Other Game to Watch: LSU vs Georgia
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