Hoping for a Historic Win


Wildcats and Bulldogs and Gators - Oh My!


Per predicted a month ago, Northwestern drew a SEC foe - the Mississippi State University (MSU) Bulldogs - and a bowl - the Tax-Slayer.com Gator Bowl. (I hope I got that endorsement right…)

There was some speculation at the time that Northwestern could wind up in the CapitalOne Bowl versus Georgia. Anyway, the Commissars...err...Commissioners of the B1G and the SEC got together and set up their “Seconds” for a duel - the runner-up of the B1G (Nebraska) versus the runner-up of the SEC (Georgia). 

I’m glad that NU pulled MSU as a dance partner and not Georgia. (Ask me this time tomorrow if I’m still glad.) Mississippi State started as ~2 favorites. Now Northwestern is ~2 point favorites. 

The Vegas line is worth exploring. So without further ado, let’s do The Good, The Bad, and the Probable. 


The Good:


The Wildcats are the “Home” team at the Gator Bowl; they get to wear their purple unis, with a cool black N on black helmet design. They enter the bowl game as the favorites, which might be a program first. 

The team is relaxed and loose. There is an air of expectation. This team knows that they are one win away from a rare 10-win season. More importantly, if they win they will go down in NU history as one of the great Wildcat football teams simply by breaking the final Dark Ages curse - winning in a bowl game. 

Mississippi State is glad to be in a decent January 1st bowl game. They started really hot by going 7-0 to open their season. Then the roof caved in, losing 4 of their last 5 to finish 8-4. Even their eight wins look weak in retrospect, having beaten no one of any consequence. The Bulldogs are looking for redemption for themselves.

The first quarter starts with the teams trading touchdowns. It appears to be a fairly even match-up. By the half, Northwestern gains a FG edge. The game is really tight.

After the half, the Wildcats open up their playbook as well as their throttle. Suddenly, the Bulldogs are being shoved around by the Wildcats. Northwestern gains the upper hand and continues to apply pressure. The Dawgs get pounded by the Cats. At the end of the game, the Wildcats gain a historic bowl win. Their fans try to figure out where to dump the goalposts. 

Wildcats 42 - Bulldogs 28. And it could have been a lot worse. 


The Bad:


The Wildcats are the “Home” team at the Gator Bowl; they get to wear their purple unis, with a cool black N on black helmet design. They enter the bowl game as the favorites, which might be a program first. 

The team is relaxed and loose. There is an air of expectation. This team knows that they are one win away from a rare 10-win season. More importantly, if they win they will go down in NU history as one of the great Wildcat football teams simply by breaking the final Dark Ages curse - winning in a bowl game. 

Mississippi State is glad to be in a decent January 1st bowl game. They started really hot by going 7-0 to open their season. Then the roof caved in, losing 4 of their last 5 to finish 8-4. Even their eight wins look weak in retrospect, having beaten no one of any consequence. The Bulldogs are looking for redemption for themselves.

The first quarter starts with the teams trading touchdowns. It appears to be a fairly even match-up. By the half, MSU gains a FG edge. The game is really tight.

After the half, the Wildcats open up their playbook as well as their throttle. Unfortunately, the MSU defense is ready. Suddenly, the Wildcats are being shoved around by the Bulldogs. MSU gains the upper hand and continues to apply pressure. The Dawgs chew up the Cats. At the end of the game, the Wildcats gain a  dubiously historic bowl record - the most consecutive bowl losses (10). Their fans try to figure out what went so wrong when everything looked so promising. 

Bulldogs 42 - NU 31. And the game wasn’t even that close. 


The Probable:


The Wildcats are the “Home” team at the Gator Bowl; they get to wear their purple unis, with a cool black N on black helmet design. They enter the bowl game as the favorites, which might be a program first. 

The team is relaxed and loose. There is an air of expectation. This team knows that they are one win away from a rare 10-win season. More importantly, if they win they will go down in NU history as one of the great Wildcat football teams simply by breaking the final Dark Ages curse - winning in a bowl game. 

Mississippi State is glad to be in a decent January 1st bowl game. They started really hot by going 7-0 to open their season. Then the roof caved in, losing 4 of their last 5 to finish 8-4. Even their eight wins look weak in retrospect, having beaten no one of any consequence. The Bulldogs are looking for redemption for themselves.

The first quarter starts with the teams trading touchdowns. It appears to be a fairly even match-up. By the half, Northwestern gains a FG edge. The game is really tight.

After the half, the Wildcats continue to slowly grind away, using their ground game to open up the occasional pass. It is classic B1G smash-mouth football. Suddenly, the Bulldog defensive line is being shoved around by the Wildcats. Northwestern slowly gains the upper hand and continues to apply pressure. The Dawgs slowly yield to the Cats. At the end of the game, the Wildcats gain a historic bowl win. Their fans try to figure out where to dump the goalposts. 

Wildcats 38 - Bulldogs 31. History is made.  


More later...


Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
Twitter: @nuspiritleader. 

Yes, This is Late...Northwestern Beat Illinois Like a Drum


NU Celebrates Senior Day Win Over Illinois


To all you Seniors (both Football and NUMB) - Excellent work! Go forth and do great things!


If you remember, way back in November...


The finished the regular season 9-3 after crushing Illinois 50 - 14. The Illini looked good for the first few minutes, scoring 14 points. Then the roof caved in as the Wildcats scored almost every way imaginable. Looking at the predictions, this game corresponds to “The Good”:

The Good:


The Wildcats take to the home field turf for the last time this football season. It is Senior Day for both the football team and NUMB. There is pomp and circumstance in the air. There is also a certain amount of swagger for the Home Team. 

On the Visitor side, there is smoldering anger and trepidation. This year’s Illini football season was much worse than last year’s...and last year’s performance got the old football coach fired. The Illini are playing for pride - they want to claim the title of “Illinois’ Best Big Ten Football Team”. The game against NU is the Illini’s bowl game. The Illinois coach is feeling some heat. 

The first quarter half has Northwestern running almost at will against the Illini. It looks soul crushing for Illinois. Nonetheless, the Illini continue to play their hearts out. It is a seemingly futile effort. 

After the half, it is even more of the same. The Wildcats’ second team scores. The third team scores against the Illini. It is ugly. It isn’t that Coach Fitz is trying to run up the score - it’s just that the Illini are totally awful. 

By the end of the game, the Illini are a broken team. Northwestern wins in a blowout: Wildcats 52 - Illini 24. The game isn’t even as close as the score would indicate. Senior Day is a huge success. Northwestern awaits their January 1st bowl game draw against the SEC. 

The reality wasn’t far off the prediction, only real life was even more cruel to the Illini - the Wildcats won 50 - 14. (Note my crocodile tears.) Bo Cizek (jersey #1 - a reserve lineman) actually got to play running back at one point. He fumbled near the Illinois goal line, but the Wildcat D came up with a Safety soon afterwards. That’s how it rained that day.


The Bowl Game

Yep - an SEC draw: Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. More later.


More later...


Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
Twitter: @nuspiritleader. 

Northwestern - Please Send the Seniors Out on a Win


First - A Word For The Wildcat Seniors…

Wildcat Football Seniors: You’ve accomplished some great things, like winning more games than any other 5 year cohort in Northwestern history. You won with class, unlike some teams who were thugs in uniform. (“Groin-shot” anyone?) You showed that athletics and academics are not mutually exclusive. 

You are going to earn a Northwestern University degree. Trust me, that is *huge*. It is a brand name diploma. And you did it while being an athlete. That’s tough to do - I know, I was a varsity fencer. I also know that being a football player was likely tougher, especially all the extra time in the weight room and working out in the summer. 

When you stand in front of the home crowd at your last game, soak it in and enjoy it. I wish I was there to add to the applause. Nonetheless - Well Done! Congratulations.

And to an equally important group…

Northwestern University Marching Band Seniors: You’ve been on the front lines of leading the Wildcat faithful in support of the football team and the University writ large. Your cheering and playing in the stands was a help to Wildcat fandom, especially the football team. 

You are going to earn a Northwestern University degree. That’s *huge*. It will make a difference. You earned it while going to practice, learning music, learning drill, and doing all the extras that go with being a professional within NUMB. I know how tough that was - I did that myself. It is really a challenge to be a student-athlete; for that is what you were. You succeeded. 

You will play “March of the Steel Men” one last time. You will get your moment in the spotlight. Soak it all in. Enjoy it. The crowd and the football team will give you the recognition you’ve earned. Congratulations! I shall be honored to call you a fellow NUMBALUM.


To all you Seniors - Excellent work! Go forth and do great things!


Finish the Illini!


The 8-3 Wildcats are 18+ point favorites over the 2-9 Illini. While that’s nice and all - I’m actually a little taken aback by the point spread. I hope NU gets the job done; in fact, I hope NU crushes the Illini by 30+ points. Northwestern should dominate the game. But will they? Or will it be a CardiacCats disappointment? Let’s look at this week’s The Good, The Bad, and The Probable.


The Good:


The Wildcats take to the home field turf for the last time this football season. It is Senior Day for both the football team and NUMB. There is pomp and circumstance in the air. There is also a certain amount of swagger for the Home Team. 

On the Visitor side, there is smoldering anger and trepidation. This year’s Illini football season was much worse than last year’s...and last year’s performance got the old football coach fired. The Illini are playing for pride - they want to claim the title of “Illinois’ Best Big Ten Football Team”. The game against NU is the Illini’s bowl game. The Illinois coach is feeling some heat. 

The first quarter has Northwestern running almost at will against the Illini. It looks soul crushing for Illinois. Nonetheless, the Illini continue to play their hearts out. It is a seemingly futile effort. 

After the half, it is even more of the same. The Wildcats’ second team scores. The third team scores against the Illini. It is ugly. It isn’t that Coach Fitz is trying to run up the score - it’s just that the Illini are totally awful. 

By the end of the game, the Illini are a broken team. Northwestern wins in a blowout: Wildcats 52 - Illini 24. The game isn’t even as close as the score would indicate. Senior Day is a huge success. And Coach Fitz achieves a milestone, tying Coach Waldorf's win total of 49, becoming tied for the winningest coach in Wildcat Football history. Northwestern awaits their January 1st bowl game draw against the SEC. 


The Bad: 


The Wildcats take to the home field turf for the last time this football season. It is Senior Day for both the football team and NUMB. There is pomp and circumstance in the air. There is also a certain amount of swagger for the Home Team. 

On the Visitor side, there is smoldering anger and trepidation. This year’s Illini football season was much worse than last year’s...and last year’s performance got the old football coach fired. The Illini are playing for pride - they want to claim the title of “Illinois’ Best Big Ten Football Team”. The game against NU is the Illini’s bowl game. The Illinois coach is feeling some heat. 

The first quarter has Northwestern running almost at will against the Illini. It looks soul crushing for Illinois. Nonetheless, the Illini continue to play their hearts out. It is a seemingly futile effort. 

After the half, the Wildcats ease up. They want to make sure that no one gets hurt before the bowl game. Meanwhile, the Illini are fired up after hanging with the Wildcats for over half the game. The momentum shifts. Going into the final quarter it is looking like a Cardiac Cats game. It isn’t a good feeling. 

By the end of the game, the Illini are playing better than they have all year. Northwestern is on the ropes. And like three previous games, victory slips from the Cats. Final score: NU 32 - Illinois 35. Senior Day is a huge failure. A horrified Northwestern team hopes for a January 1st bowl game draw against the SEC. 


The Probable:


The Wildcats take to the home field turf for the last time this football season. It is Senior Day for both the football team and NUMB. There is pomp and circumstance in the air. There is also a certain amount of swagger for the Home Team. 

On the Visitor side, there is smoldering anger and trepidation. This year’s Illini football season was much worse than last year’s...and last year’s performance got the old football coach fired. The Illini are playing for pride - they want to claim the title of “Illinois’ Best Big Ten Football Team”. The game against NU is the Illini’s bowl game. The Illinois coach is feeling some heat. 

The first quarter has Northwestern running almost at will against the Illini. It looks soul crushing for Illinois. Nonetheless, the Illini continue to play their hearts out. It is a seemingly futile effort. 

After the half, it is even more of the same. The Wildcats’ second team scores. The third team pushes hard against the Illini. It is close to ugly, but Coach Fitz relents. It isn’t that Coach Fitz is trying to run up the score - it’s just that the Illini are totally awful. 

By the end of the game, the Illini are trying to forget 2012. Northwestern wins in a blowout: Northwestern 37 - Illinois 18. The game isn’t even as close as the score would indicate. Senior Day is a huge success. And Coach Fitz achieves a milestone, tying Coach Waldorf's win total of 49, becoming tied for the winningest coach in Wildcat Football history. Northwestern awaits their January 1st bowl game draw against the SEC. 



More later about B1G expansion. Who wins? Does anyone lose? 


Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
Twitter: @nuspiritleader. 

Coaches Change Endgame Strategy - Wildcats Just Win the Game



This was the opposite of insanity…


After three maddening losses, Northwestern was on the brink of a fourth while visiting the Spartans. The Wildcats were leading by 3 points very late in the game. They were deep in their own territory after a MSU punt. The Spartans were counting on Northwestern to run three times up the middle and punt. Given the amount of time on the clock and the swarming Spartan defense, it wasn’t a bad bet. It would give the Spartans the ball back with a couple of minutes left on the clock and in good field position for getting a tying field goal - if not an outright win in regulation.

Sound familiar? 

Only this time, the Wildcats didn’t go into “play it safe” mode - they came out strong. Siemian threw the ball several times like a guided missile. A timely MSU pass interference penalty helped out as well. By the time the Wildcats came to a stall at midfield, there were seconds left on the clock. A quick punt and the Spartans had the ball again at their 20, needing to drive within field goal range. All the Wildcat faithful were afraid that they would see the much dreaded “prevent defense”. 

Not this time. The Northwestern D played like Wildcats. They delivered punishing hits that sent the Spartans four and out after a succession of incomplete passes. Northwestern had the ball at the MSU 20 with more than sufficient time to score again. Coach Fitz did the proper thing - sending the offense into Victory Formation and ran the clock out. 

The final score: Northwestern 23 - Michigan State 20. The Spartans won a lot of statistical categories, except for the one that really counts. This game was somewhere between The Probable and The Good. They weren’t as dominating as in The Good scenario, but had a lot more aggression than in The Probable. Most importantly, it was a win - moving Northwestern to 8-3. 

Illinois is next.

More later...


Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
Twitter: @nuspiritleader. 
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