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First Look at the ’10 Football Season

First Look at the ’10 Football Season

Finally! The 2010 Football Season is starting!

I want to start with the last words that I wrote at the end of the ’09 season:

I think that the best words about the current Wildcat football era came from some of my fellow Big Ten alums (Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue) who by the end of the season noted simply and sincerely:

“We can’t take Northwestern for granted anymore.”

I can cite the 2010 preseason publications and prognostications - virtually all of which pick the Wildcats to finish in the middle tier of the Big Ten and to do something that’s never been done before in NU football history - go to a bowl game for the 3rd year in a row. (I recommend www.laketheposts.com for a detailed analysis of the upcoming season.)

My prediction? I’m not sure. So let’s look at the good, the bad, and the probable. In all scenarios, the major variable is consistency.

The Good (Okay, let’s be honest - The Great):

The Wildcats finish between 10-2 to 12-0, win a share of the Big Ten title, go to a New Year’s bowl game AND WIN THE BOWL GAME!

The major factor - consistency. Other major factors include dodging the injury bug and gaining a running game (thereby making the passing game more effective). The coaching is perfect and properly aggressive. The ‘Cats play with heart and make very few mistakes. They overlook no one and avoid the near annual “unexpected, unnecessary loss” (e.g. Syracuse last year). The momentum builds through the season and NU takes care of business, earning a share of the Big Ten title (with Ohio State). Much speculation ensues about the outcome of a NU - Ohio State title game, anticipating the inaugural 2011 playoff game.

The Wildcats go to a BCS bowl game and face a SEC opponent. (Or maybe the “token” non-automatic BCS conference bowl team.) The game is one of the most anticipated of the postseason, a result of the previous year’s Outback Bowl. Northwestern plays aggressively and with no mistakes. The ‘Cats win the game convincingly. The final poll for the 2010 season puts them in the Top Ten.

The Bad (Really bad…)

The Wildcats finish between 3-9 to 5-7 and are relegated to the bottom tier of the Big Ten. No bowl game and no answers to questions about whether or not the Wildcats are truly forever out of the Dark Times.

The major factor - inconsistency. Other contributors - injuries to Persa and other critical players multiplied by the second/third team not stepping up. No running game reduces NU’s offensive options - making the passing game easier to stop. The secondary gets burned over and over. A loss to Vanderbilt, a near loss to Illinois State, and a loss to Central Michigan kill NU’s momentum going into the Big Ten conference games. The season ends with questions about the program’s future.

The Probable

The Wildcats finish between 7-5 to 9-3, gaining a bowl game for the third year in a row - a program first. The fans are reasonably happy (make it very happy if NU gains 9 wins) and the team gets some respectable press at the end of the regular season. Once again, my friends from other Big Ten schools note that NU is no longer an automatic win.

The team shows some inconsistency early on, losing the dreaded non-conference “game that got away” (probably Central Michigan or Rice). They drop a Big Ten game they shouldn’t lose, but pick up an upset win (maybe Iowa again?). The team loses people to injuries, but the ‘Cats bounce back with varying results. The running game is as good as last year (better if they want to win 9 games). And the feeling of “success” or “failure” for the 2010 season comes down to the outcome of the bowl game - “moral victories” and “valiant efforts” are no longer enough. Which they win (finally!).

Big Ten Expansion

Nebraska? Really? Good football team but academics are not in the top 100 nationally. (And remember that the Big Ten prides itself on being the best academic conference in the FBS division.) Was this supposed to make certain other Big Ten schools feel better about their SATs? Oh well, yet another set of Big Ten alums who will work for us someday. :-)

Go ‘Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)




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