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Wildcats Versus Tigers: A Chance to Make History + Intangibles That Affect The Game + Wildcards

Outback Bowl: Wildcats Versus Tigers - It isn’t the size of the cat in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the ‘Cats.

Tomorrow the Wildcats Could Make History

A lot has been written about this Wildcat football team. They’ve been called “Underachievers” (especially after the Syracuse and Minnesota games), “Surprisingly good” (after three November victories), and “The second time NU has had back-to-back bowl appearances (this one is factual).” This year’s Wildcats started off slowly but finished strong.

Tomorrow determines whether or not the ’09-’10 ‘Cats are an interesting footnote or make history. A loss means that NU finishes 8-5 - good for anyone in FBS/Div-1 football, especially in the Big Ten Conference. Some would call beating the point spread a “moral victory.” NU football is well past the point at which anyone should feel good with a moral victory. True champions don’t track moral victories.

A win goes far beyond the team finishing 9-4 for the second straight year. A win means that this team will be remembered forever as the group that stopped a 61 year drought. They will be remembered as getting this particular monkey off of NU’s back. A win makes a strong statement that not only the ‘Cats are winners, but that NU’s coach is a force to be reckoned with.

And a win over historic football powerhouse Auburn, from the historic football powerhouse SEC would not only make NU look great, but it would help boost the reputation of the entire Big Ten.

Tomorrow the Wildcats could make history.

Intangibles Make the Difference in a Close Game

We’ve all seen the articles from all over (East Coast to West Coast, Illinois south to Alabama and all points between). If you buy into arguments such as “Auburn has speed,” “Auburn has strength,” “the least of the SEC can beat the best of the Big Ten,” and so forth, you might figure the betting line - Auburn by 8 - is being generous to NU.

Don’t count out the Wildcats yet.

Let’s take a look at some of the other factors that will come into play.

Weather: Weather.com says that it will be raining and windy around game time with temps around the mid ‘60s. Looking at the weather patterns through the game, skies should clear and temperatures should drop into the 50s. The cool weather will tend to favor the ‘Cats over Auburn. Rain may make passing a little problematic, which would tend to favor Auburn. And wind expected with the cold front may make long distance kicks tough. I’d prefer the weather to be both cooler and dryer. So the weather is likely to be a wash.

Attitude and Pressure: Auburn is known for their football legacy. Wrongly (in my opinion) NU is known for a different type of football legacy. Auburn knows that if they lose to NU they will never hear the end of it from the SEC, the ACC, the Big East, and *especially* that “other” team from the state of Alabama. If NU loses, they hear about the continuing drought - like the past 60 years. Frankly, Auburn has a lot more to lose by losing. So they will play to win. I’m hoping that NU will not play to avoid losing. (Parse that!) If NU gets a lead and tries to sit on it (playing to avoid losing) with anything more than 30 seconds left in the game and a 38 point lead, things could go bad. But on the other hand, NU has zero to lose by getting really aggressive and taking a lot of wild chances. (Maybe an intentional “basketball pass” on 4th down…) Seems like a wash to me.

Pre-game Discipline: Putting it bluntly - which team will have the most hungover players? This will likely translate into who will start the fastest. This advantage should last through at least the first two quarters. I’m thinking NU will be more sober and less hungover. Advantage to the Wildcats.

Smarts: NU is rumored to have read the Wisconsin defensive signals in real time, leading to the ‘Cats dominating the Badgers during their first half. Analysis of the opposition can make a difference, so long as you don’t overanalyze to the point of paralysis. Playing smart can help overcome deficits in speed/strength. No offense to Auburn, but NU has a dominating advantage in this category - as long as they don’t “over-think” things.

NUMB - Northwestern University Marching Band. As I’ve said before, NUMB is worth 3 points in any game that they march. This includes away game appearances. It doesn’t matter how far away, NUMB is still an extra 3 points. They will cheer loudly even if the team is behind by 25 points (remember Indiana…?). They will cheer loudly even if their team is ahead. Auburn has a fine band, but I don’t see their band giving the equivalent of a home team advantage wherever they go. Advantage: +3 points to the Wildcats.

Wildcards That Could Change the Game

Who will lay a hurt on the other guy?

Auburn has a good pass rush. If they hurt Kafka, that would be bad. Losing Kafka during the Penn State game changed the flow of the game.

On the other hand, if Wootton (or anyone else) lays a Stanzi-esque hit on either the Auburn QB or their lead running back, it could be lights out for the Tigers.

I can’t make a call on this, because - guess what? - it’s a Wild Card. :-) But I do think the Wildcats can survive a “critical hit” better than the Tigers.

All in all, I give NU the advantage in intangibles. NUMB will erase 3 of the 8 points that Vegas is favoring Auburn. The other intangibles should erase the other five points plus some. My prediction: A high scoring game where NU prevails. Wildcats 38, Tigers 30.

Go ‘Cats! Beat Auburn!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)



PS: I plan on being on Twitter for the game - NUSpiritLeader. (I would have chosen NUMBSpiritLeader if Twitter had allowed it.)

PSS: Congrats to Wisconsin for defeating #14 Miami by score of 20-14. It really wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. The Badgers more or less choked the life out of Miami after the first two plays (i.e. the first 7 Miami points).

1 comment:

  1. It will be great to watch Auburn Tigers,i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Auburn_Tigers-tickets looking forward to it.