Prediction Saturday – Nevada

It’s Roger Rankin’s birthday, and Northwestern football is back in a few hours! What a day, indeed. Here are our picks for the opening game against Nevada.

TRENT: 

It’s opening day and the ‘Cats are ready to roll, as are the West Lot Warriors. After a long summer Northwestern football is finally back and we are jacked up. The ‘Cats open at home against the Nevada Wolfpack, a pretty random team who we paid a hefty chunk of change ($1M +) for the honor to visit Ryan Field. I remember my freshman year in ’07 when the ‘Cats visited Nevada and needed a last minute CJ Bacher drive to claim victory. Let’s hope Fitz and the squad can avoid that kind of drama this time around.

I do hear Colin Kaepernick, former Nevada QB, may show up to the game (jk lol)…I mean he is unemployed right? Can’t imagine he’s got anything better going on this weekend.

Game Prediction:

I’m not going to pretend to know anything about the Wolfpack. From the Google I’ve learned that they’ve got a new coach and are implementing a new Air Raid offense this year – a far cry from the more run-heavy pistol offense they’d run in years past. Avid ‘Cats pessimists will remember a few years back when the Cal Bears and Jared Goff ran an Air Raid offense that gave us fits as Cal threw it all over the Northwestern D. Funny enough, only one of the two QBs from that game is a current starter in the NFL (what up Trev?).

I think the ‘Cats secondary holds up this time around and limits Nevada through the air. I have a hard time thinking that Nevada has gotten this whole Air Raid scheme down pat given they’ve never run it in an actual game and have a brand new coach. They do have a transfer QB from Alabama, but we don’t even know if he’ll be starting – the Wolfpack still have not named a starting QB which strikes me as odd. Sure, there is potential the Wolfpack will be able to use the element of surprise and jump on us early, but I feel pretty good about our offense putting up points on this D.

I see Clayton Thorson starting slowly without his security blanket Austin Carr, but then picking up steam as the game goes on and he gets into a rhythm. JJ will run for 150+ yards – expect a huge day from him on the ground, and hopefully we’ll see Johnny Moten in the second half if we’ve got a big lead. Our D will bend but not break – very curious to see how our linebacker corps hold up without Anthony Walker in the mix.

Game Score:

‘Cats pull it out, 33-14

Player to Watch:

Most people would say Thorson, but I’m going with our new kicker, Charlie “Ice” Kuhbander! Jack Mitchell had his turn in the sun, and while he wasn’t great it doesn’t matter given he made two clutch kicks to beat Notre Dame. But I’m actually excited to have a new kicker to root for – Kuhbander was a highly rated kicker out of OH and I’m expecting some big things. Hoping Kuhbander gets a few attempts on Saturday.

Warrior to Watch:

Andy Day is in town and two for one O Bombs will be flowing in the West Lot. Also, Northwestern has done a nice little local media push this week about their new in-stadium food offerings – a great idea given the amenities in Ryan Field and Welsh Ryan have been pretty poor ever since I’ve been attending games. This year, they’ve got the mecca of food options – Buffalo Joe’s – available in the stadium and close to our seats. A Day, a Buffalo Joe’s connoisseur, is jacked up and ready to grub. My only question is will they have RC Cola?

Other Game to Watch:

The obvious answer is Alabama-FSU, the earliest regular season matchup between top five teams as far as I can remember. But I’m going with Wyoming v. Iowa. Wyoming has a stud QB who is projected to be a first round NFL pick – I watched their bowl game last year and he was legit. Should be a good early season test for the Hawkeyes.

 

ROGER

…… aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back.

We’ve been on a hiatus since the Warriors (and extended family) somehow managed to avoid getting kicked out of Yankee Stadium while playing the team from “the shit city” of Pittsburgh. Hack was even half naked for the better part of the game (before disappearing) in sub zero temperatures.

That was a lot of fun. Let’s hope this season provides as much fun.

We’re working with some knowns here (JJ will be great, the O line will be suspect, the secondary should be good…. are you ok, Watkins?), but we’re working with just as many unknowns. Will the receivers fill the Carr void? Will Clayton continue to develop? Will we be able to generate a pass rush?

These questions are not atypical for a college football team in late August. That’s why this is #fun every year.

Game Prediction:

Hell if I know. This is the first game (see questions above).

I also don’t know the first thing about Nevada… though I have been to a casino in Reno. Nice bathroom there. My sources tell me the Wolfpack will be implementing an Air Raid offense. In years past, that has been thoroughly annoying (see Cal 2013 and 14). That said, the ‘Cats secondary should be one of the strengths of the team. I’m also, like Bag, not sold that you’ll see much success in Game 1 with a new coach implementing a new system. Nevada doesn’t have the talent of Alabama. When given options, few would choose to play football for a school in Reno.

I expect the game to be sloppy early. A lot of penalties and punts. The ‘Cats will start to move the ball with some dink and dunk action involving a lot of Macan Wilson. This will help open the run game. ‘Cats lead 13-3 at the half (blocked extra point… don’t blame the kicker though. If he’s lucky, we’ll name our WiFi after him in 4 years time).

Nevada may score some bullshit special teams TD early in the 2nd half to close the gap to 3, but I expect the ‘Cats to turn it on from there and pull away thanks in part to some forced turnovers (a pick from Godwin and a devastating QB hit forcing a fumble by Lancaster).

Game Score:

Cats 27

Nevada 10

Player/Unit to Watch:

Everyone… it’s week 1. I’ll go with 2 units though: the O line and the D ends. The success of our season is predicated, in large part, on these 2 groups doing their jobs.

Warrior to Watch:

Me (I’m turning 30 on Saturday); however, I won’t be in attendance. So, the honor goes to Andy Day. He’s in town (#loyal) for the opener and he’s beyond elated that Ryan Field has upped their concession game and will be offering Buff Joe’s. Will he come through and get the dish working in Week 1?

Other Game to Watch:

Florida vs. Michigan. This game is intriguing to me because a) half of UF’s team is suspended for illegally selling shit and b) neither team has a viable quarterback. This could be a truly ugly game, but it will set the tone for the rest of the season for whoever wins.

 

PAUL

Tis the season. Welcome back everyone. Nothing better than coming back from a sabbatical and going straight into football season.

Sadly I won’t be attending this week’s game, but will be watching from Valencia, Spain, while two Warrior faithful get married. Congrats to Mike & Ana Parrott!!

Game Prediction:

I have no clue. Haven’t been paying any attention to any preseason stuff. NU will look good offensively through the air, but will have a bit of a tough time in the trenches with JJ busting out a few big runs. Defense won’t look too hot and allow a couple of TDs in the 1st and 3rd quarter.

Game Score:

Cats 33

Nevada 17

Player/Unit to Watch:

Mick McCall: Will his play calling look any different than years past?

Warrior to Watch:

Hack. He’s done a lot of the setup work this summer and also failed to paint the van purple so he has a lot to prove. Odds are the grill and speakers will work, but not confident about anything else. This will lead him to drink heavily to compensate.

Other Game to Watch:

Akron @ PSU. Zips are a 30.5 point dog so I’m not expecting a win, but will give us a look into the team we’re playing at homecoming

 

ROCHE

Why does’t Oedipus curse?

Because he kisses his mother with that mouth.

Game Prediction:

I don’t know Nevada. I don’t know much about this Northwestern team, now that I think about it.

Game Score:

#B1GCats 38

Reno 20

Player/Unit to Watch:

The WR Core. Carr is gone, and Bigsby needs sure hands and good routes.

Warrior to Watch:

It’s Bag. He knew about the Szechuan Sauce coming back before everyone else. WHAT OTHER SECRETS IS HE HIDING.

Other Game to Watch:

Akron @ PSU. Agree with Paul. Every PSU game is the game to watch for me. Still deep in Nittany Lion territory

Thanks, and have a great day

 

A DAY

So today I just realized this is going to be my 11th consecutive home opener. Holy shit I’m getting #old. Speaking of 11 years ago, we played Nevada that same season (after beating archrival Northeastern in the opener). We barely squeezed out a win after trailing with less than 2 minutes in the game. Will tomorrow look similar? I hope not… but hey… time for the game prediction.
Game Prediction: Justin Jackson is poised to have a field day. The question is, will the rest of the offense be able to keep (albeit a terrible rush defense) from stacking the box? I think they will stall at times, and will allow for Nevada to hang around. Also, our secondary has the potential to be the best in the nation. But after losing some studs in the front seven, namely Anthony “Cakes” Walker and Ifeadi Odenigbo, one has to wonder if the defense will take a step back this season as a unit. Oh an finally… will we be able to kick a field goal? Survey says…unclear. I think this game looks eerily similar to 2007.
Game Score: NU 36 – Nevada 31
Player to Watch: Offensive Line – can this rag tag bunch give Clayton time to go through his progressions?
Warrior to Watch: Z-Von – his first tailgate as a Kellogg student. Will he try to impress his fellow classmates by shotgunning one too many Miller Lites?
Other Game to Watch: I’m going to say Florida-Michigan. Should get a sense of how strong the Wolverines are going to be.
ZVON
The ‘Cats are back in black…in purple.  Let’s go.  We have been waiting for this day since that beautifully cold day in the Bronx when the ‘Cats took down Pitt.  As others noted for this game, hopefully the excitement is just as high and the Grayhack is more shirted.  What a game that was.  If Ryan Field sold beer, we’d be in for another treat.  NU comes in with a lotta excitement surrounding the team and that can go only two ways.  Let’s hope it goes positively and is warranted.  With a few returning leaders, there isn’t really an excuse to start the season slowly.
Game Prediction: I think the ‘Cats start slow (because they do every season and even though favored, probably keep it closer than desired early).  There is no excuse to start poorly but it will happen.  The team will rely on a heavy and early dose of Justin Jackson The Ball Carrier.  Clayton throws for about 200 yards but really isn’t needed.  The running game is solid and brings us to the W but doesn’t blow Nevada out of the water early. so it’s a close first half.
Game Score: NU 31, Nevada 14
Player to Watch: Secondary….with injuries, can they play well?
Warrior to Watch: Without Roger, who will stand on the van and yell to the mountain tops?  Who will curse the offense and belittle the defense?  I’m going to say ADay – he’s in from SF, he’s ready to rage, and you know he is going to have a breakout performance.  He’ll be the early season favorite for Warrior of the Year (not even a real thing).
Other Game to Watch: FLorida State and Alabama.  Big match up name-wise.
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A Few Fun Facts to Kick of the 2017 Season

Northwestern has the longest winning streak (2) in the B1G

You heard that right. Given the B1G’s abysmal showing during bowl season (3-7) and the other two bowl game winners (Wisconsin and Minnesota) each losing their previous game (Minny to Wisco and Wisco to PSU in the B1G Championship) the ‘Cats hold the outright win streak lead with a whopping 2 wins. Let’s see if we can hold on to that for a few more weeks, eh?

ESPN favors NU in 10 of 12 games

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Does this mean NU is projected to win 10 games? Absolutely not. But still, pretty exciting to be favored in the majority of our contests. Also take this with a grain of salt, as this is certainly bound to change as the season goes on. By my math, this predicts NU to win 8.35 games… not bad.

Pat Fitzgerald’s unbeaten streak against James Franklin is at risk

Despite Penn State’s preseason ranking (6), the Nittany Lions ought to be a little weary of their trip to Evanston this season. Why? Because James Franklin has never beaten Pat Fitzgerald (in 4 attempts). He’s lost both contests as PSU’s head coach as well as two while at the helm at Vanderbilt. Vandy also dropped NU from the schedule in 2013-2014 due to “scheduling conflicts,” however, some speculated James was simply afraid of the ‘Cats.

2017 Season Prediction

fitzgerald

It’s been a long summer, and I’ve been licking the scraps from the bottom of the sports entertainment barrel. As I channel surf, I find myself deciding between some late night drone racing on ESPN 2, or competitive cornhole over on ESPN U.

But now it’s (almost) fall, and football season is (almost) back, and all is (almost) right in the sports world again. I can pull myself back from the sketchy outskirts of cable, and back to the safety of major network television. Instead of trying to watch Austin Carr get a chance in a Patriots preseason game against the Jags, I can watch the 2017 Wildcats take the field against some actual competition.

How will the ‘Cats fare in 2017? I’ve got no damn idea, but I’m going to try and make a prediction here. Northwestern historically is good when we expect them to be bad, and vice versa – they love to zig when we expect them to zag. The media narrative is that we’ll be a competitor for the B1G West this year – we’re returning our 3,000 yard QB and a 3,000 yard career rusher, and may have the best secondary in the B1G. We’ve got a pretty easy schedule and some manageable crossover games against the B1G East. It’s a bit silly that the winner of the B1G West will likely come down to who in our division got the least difficult crossover games against the other side.

On the other hand, we lost Austin Carr and Anthony Walker – two key players at positions where we don’t have a lot of depth. I think Carr will be a huge loss – Clayton Thorson had a nice year last year but Carr was by and large his go-to target, with 90 catches. We’ll see how Thorson does this year without that AC80 crutch – Flynn Nagel is waiting in the wings and would expect him to have a big year. Skowronek was also a nice security blanket last year for Thorson, and expect that to continue this year.

Season Prediction:

I’m predicting a 9-3 year for the ‘Cats in 2017. I see us getting through the non-con unscathed, splitting @ Wisconsin and Penn State on Homecoming, dropping a game at Nebraska, and then dropping another game to either Iowa or Michigan State at home. If we do beat Wisconsin, we’ll have an outside shot at taking the B1G West.

Player to Watch:

Clayton Thorson. Kind of an obvious one, but am very curious to see if he can continue the success he found towards the end of last year. The importance of losing Austin Carr cannot be understated – Thorson will be without his go-to target who accounted for about a third of his completions last year. If he can take a step forward, the ‘Cats will be legitimate B1G West contenders…but if he regresses without AC, we could be in for a long year.

Game to Watch:

Has to be Wisconsin. Our first game against a B1G opponent is a huge one. If we can get the win against the Badgers, we can afford to lose 2-3 games and still have an opportunity to get to Indy by winning a tiebreaker. If we lose @Wisco, there is no margin for error the rest of the way. The Badgers always seem to grind out 9-10 win seasons year in and year out, but now having lost TJ Watt and now Jack Cichy for the year, two of their best players on D, they do seem due for a down year. We shall see.

The Skinny:

I will say this is the best chance the ‘Cats have had in years to win the West. Our schedule is about as easy as you could ask for in the B1G, we’ve got a proven starter at QB and a star RB in JJ. I know we’ll be able to put up points, but I’m worried about our defense. It was porous at times last year, and that was with Anthony “Cakes” Walker holding down the middle of the D. I do feel good about our D line getting QB pressure, and our secondary covering on the back end – for me it comes down to how well our LBs can play without Walker in the mix. Expect a lot of 33-30 type games.

CFB Final Four Picks:

  • USC
  • Oklahoma State
  • Alabama
  • Ohio State

B1G Picks – Week 10

Well it’s been a week. But hey, it’s Saturday, and college football is back – so that’s something. Let’s make some B1G picks, shall we?

 

Rutgers @ MSU (-15.5)
It’s the battle of the B1G basement as both these teams enter the day at 0-6 in conference play. A year removed from the College Football Playoff, it’s hard to fathom how Sparty has looked so downright brutal. I think Michigan State gets back on track here, but hard to see them covering this many points. Pick: Rutgers +15.5

 

Penn State (-7.5) @ Indiana
Penn State all of a sudden looks like the real deal, as they sit at #10 in the CFP rankings. I think Indiana is overrated and has been all year. Pick: PSU -7.5

 

OSU (-29.5) @ Maryland
Ohio State needs to keep winning, and winning big, to keep their Playoff hopes alive. I see them winning big against the Terrapins. Pick: OSU -29.5

 

Illinois @ Wisconsin (-26.5)
With three games left to go in the year, Wisconsin is in control of the B1G West and their own destiny if they can win out. They’ve worked through the meat of their ridiculously tough schedule, with only the Paul Bunyan Axe game left against Minnesota looking like somewhat of a challenge. I think Wisco wins this one easily, but doesn’t cover that high spread – they’re not one to blow teams out. Pick: Illinois +26.5

 

Minnesota @ Nebraska (-7)
A few games ago Nebraska had the whole world in their hands, sitting in the top ten of the CFP rankings and in control of their destiny. What a difference a few weeks makes – they lost a tight one at Wisconsin, and then got absolutely pummeled in a 62-3 loss against the Buckeyes last week. But I like them in a bounceback game this week. Glad to hear Tommy Armstrong is ok after things looked pretty bleak for a while last Saturday. Pick: Nebraska -7

 

Michigan (-22.5) @ Iowa
This is the game I had the hardest time picking. Iowa CIty is not an easy place to play, but Michigan is not an easy team to play. I know the Hawkeye fans will be going nuts in a night game, but their team looked brutal in a blowout loss to Penn State last week. Michigan is due for at least one game to be close, right?? Well, maybe not. At the end of the day, you have to trust in Harbaugh, who has showed all year he’s not afraid to pour it on teams and cover huge spreads. Pick: Michigan -22.5

 

Northwestern (-14) @ Purdue
After a terrible start to the season, the ‘Cats have redeemed themselves pretty well and sit at .500 in B1G play. We could certainly have won in Columbus a few weeks ago, but got outplayed last week in Evanston against the Badgers. If we can pull out this game, we just need to win one of the last two to go to a crappy bowl game. I think the ‘Cats offense is much improved, but still don’t trust Mick McCall. I also think this Purdue QB David Blough is pretty talented, and that worries me against our depleted secondary. ‘Cats win but don’t cover in West Lafayette. Pick Purdue +14

 

Elsewhere in the country:

  • I like Oklahoma -17 at home against Baylor. Baylor is an absolute mess, on and off the field, and OU still has an outside look at one of the CFP spots.
  • In the Pac12 after dark tonight, give me Washington State -17 at home against Cal. I’ve made a lot of money betting against Cal all year – their D is atrocious.

Homecoming Weekend B1G Picks

Homecoming weekend is here! The Warriors are ready to let loose tomorrow, with a home matchup against the Hoosiers on the docket, and then Cubs home for game sixtomorrow night against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw. Huge sports weekend coming up – let’s get into some Big Ten picks. See y’all at the ‘Cats game on Saturday.

 

Minnesota (-18) @ Rutgers

I think Minnesota’s pretty good, and Rutgers is pretty bad. (this is why you all tune into WLW, for our data-driven analysis) Even though this game is up in Minneapolis, I don’t feel comfortable about betting on Minnesota to beat anyone by 18 – it’s just too many points. Pick: Rutgers +18

 

Purdue @ Nebraska (-24)

Nebraska is due for a blowout. I expected more out of Purdue last week at home against Iowa, but they looked brutal. Pick: Huskers -24

 

Wisconsin (-4) @ Iowa

This one is tough. I think Wisconsin is the better team, but Iowa’s playing at home and still in the running for the B1G championship game. This game was a tight one last year, and I’m expecting a tight one this year – at least for three quarters. Wisco pulls away late. Pick: Wisco -4

 

Illinois @ Michigan (-36.5)

Harbaugh has no qualms about running up the score on bad teams. Illinois is a bad team – Lovie isn’t looking so hot in his first year down in Champaign. Pick: Michigan -36.5

 

Michigan St. (-3) @ Maryland

I see a bounceback game from Michigan State here – there’s no way Sparty is this bad, right?! Pick: MSU -3

 

Ohio St. -20 @ Penn State

Penn State is a very tough place to play. OSU went to 3OT during their last visit to Happy Valley. I see another tight game, with the Buckeyes pulling away late but not covering. Pick: PSU +20

 

Indiana @ NU (-3)

The ‘Cats! After a brutal start, we’ve won two straight B1G games and have actually scored a ton of points in doing so. I think Indiana is pretty good, but they’re not a team that scares you. As long as the ‘Cats’ offense keeps clicking, we’ll be in fine shape. Pick: CATS -3

 

 

Fall Friday B1G Picks

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Fall is officially upon us! When I rolled out of bed yesterday to 40 degree temps, I felt the B1G football fever. Daydreams of three and outs, punts downed at the 1, fullback runs up the middle and M00N games ran through my head.

After a bye week, the ‘Cats are back in action and it’s time to make some B1G picks.

 

Iowa (-11) at Purdue

Why does everyone think the Hawkeyes are good? They have won two B1G games each by a score of 14-7, against Minnesota and Rutgers. They lost at home to the ‘Cats and also lost at home to an FCS team (albeit probably the best one). Purdue historically seems to have something over on Iowa – these games always tend to be close. With Purdue at home and a double digit dog – I love the Boilermakers. Pick: Purdue +11

 

Minnesota at Maryland (-6.5)

This is the B1G game I feel I have the worst handle on this week. With QB Mitch Leidner out I believe the Gophers will struggle to score – and if nothing else Maryland can put up points. Pick: Maryland -6.5

 

Illinois (-6) at Rutgers

This is a line reflective of the fact that Rutgers lost by 78 at home last week to Michigan. But I think that’s a throwaway game – Jim Harbaugh loves to run up the score; he went for a two point conversion when the Wolverines were up 27-0 in that game. Illinois is not a good team and should not be favored on the road by 6 anywhere. Pick: Rutgers +6

 

NU at Michigan St (-6.5)

Ok here’s the homer pick. You have to think Sparty will be fired up after losing their last two games in ugly fashion; this is also their Homecoming. Mark Dantonio always scares me – I think he’s one of the best coaches in the country and I wouldn’t be shocked if you saw him at a Texas, USC, LSU, etc. next year. However, I don’t think Michigan State’s offense is any good – I expect a low scoring game and when that happens I’ll go ahead and take the points. Pick: ‘Cats +6.5

 

Nebraska (-3) at Indiana

This line started with Nebraska as a much bigger favorite and has dropped down – money is coming in on the Hoosiers. I’m not convinced Indiana is a top tier B1G team – yes they beat MSU but then again MSU might not be very good. This is a big boy game for the Hoosiers and I don’t see them coming through against the talented Huskers. Pick: Nebraska +3

 

OSU (-10.5) at Wisconsin

Ok here’s our marquee game for the B1G this week. Wisconsin has played the toughest schedule in the nation to-date and done pretty darn well – with just one loss by seven at the Big House. Their defense is legit – new QB Alex Hornibrook has shown some nice flashes but also looked pretty brutal at times. Camp Randall is a tough place to play and despite OSU’s superior talent I have a hard team seeing the Badgers get blown out in a raucous atmosphere. I think the Buckeyes win by 3 but don’t cover. Pick: Wisco +10.5

 

Favorite non-B1G Game: Alabama (-13) at Tennessee

The Vols have been the most fun team to watch in college football this year. After a series of crazy wins, they suffered a crazy 2-OT loss to Texas A&M on the road last week. If anything, I think the loss validated them more than any of their wins thus far. The Vols played ‘Bama very tight last year and I see a similar game this year. 13 points is way too much. Pick: Tennessee +13

 

Let’s see how these work out this weekend…and of course GO CUBS GO!!!