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Wildcats Successfully Hunt Hoosiers and Penn State Preview

NU Wins 20 - 17...It Should Have Been More

Northwestern went Hoosier Hunting in Bloomington and were successful by the score of 20 - 17. I’m grateful for the win, which made NU bowl eligible for the 4th straight year. (While 6 wins makes you eligible, I’d feel much better about getting 7...or 10.) It was a hot and cold game for the Wildcats; they would show bursts of dominance then seemingly go on cruise control. It was like NU played about 50 out of 60 minutes. Fortunately that was all that was needed against a folding IU team.

In the Hoosier blogosphere, their fans seemed rather resigned to the IU failure. I think they may have given up on their season.

Rather than repeat stats that you’ve read elsewhere for several days, let me put it all in terms of Good/Bad.

The Good: The run game actually produced a 100 yard runner - Trumpy. The O-line opened some occasional holes for Trumpy. The defense bent, but didn’t totally break at the end. Kicking was perfect - including a 45yd Demos field goal into a stiff wind. Watkins came in for an injured Persa and didn’t make any mistakes. Coach Fitzgerald gave NUMB a nod during his postgame interview. (Recall that I’ve said multiple times that NUMB is worth 3 points in any given game - home or away. I think they were a positive factor.)

The Bad: Persa got injured. Let me repeat that - Persa got injured. (Given the number of sacks he’s taken, I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier in the season.) Giving up a touchdown with :44 left in the game made the ending a Cardia Cats moment. Offense flipped hot/cold multiple times. Penalties kept Indiana in the game a lot more than they should have been.

In the end, it was a win. It should have been about 27 - 10, but we got the W. However, the Cardiac Cats made my blood pressure spike to 147/97 at the end of the game. They are going to kill me one of these days.

A Plug For A Site That Pays Attention to Northwestern Football And Ryan Field!

Paul, from www.stadiumjourney.com contacted me to alert me to his hands on review of the Wildcats’ crib - Ryan Field. His review is at http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/ryan-field-s473/

I thought it was a good review. I did send the following back to him:

I'm a little biased, but...


For the most part I agree with your comments. The fact is, the stadium infrastructure needs a serious refit. I think some of your scores and comments were generous (e.g. "nostalgic" instead of "old"). :-)

The one score that I think was a point lower than it should have been was Fans. Given that NU has by far the smallest enrollment of any of the Big Ten schools (8,200 versus 20,000 for the next smallest school - Iowa), a good number of students and alums show up for the game. It may not be the size of the student/alum sections at other Big Ten stadiums, but there is a lot of enthusiasm. I was in the Band during the Dark Times - the fan interest just wasn't there. The Marching Band was a bigger draw than the team back then. Today's fan support and involvement is orders of magnitude better. So I think NU deserves a 4 for fans, but I understand your position and scoring explanation.

I do think that as the team gets even better and the stadium is rearchitected, the fans will get more numerous. We will earn a lot of fives.

One other thing - there is free beer a couple of hours before the game at Wildcat Alley. That might make some people a little happier about the food. :-)

Thank you for covering Ryan Field. All of us Wildcat fans appreciate it when people remember that we're a successful Big Ten school. And we're getting better - both academically and athletically. (NU faculty just got another Nobel Prize and the Athletics continue to grow!)

Go Cats!


PS: A factoid about my time at NU - I was a varsity athlete in Fencing (Sabre). At the time I was there, we were one of the few (and might have been the only) men's sport with a winning record. We even beat Ohio State.

BJ Mitchell
Former NUMB Spirit Leader

Penn State Preview

This week’s game is all about JoePa trying to get win #400. Given the hype over the quest for this milestone, NU is not only an underdog, but is seen as a mere speed bump in a media no win situation. People who normally pull for the underdog are not pulling for NU here. If NU loses, everyone expected that and really wanted it so Coach Paterno could get his historic win. If NU wins, the Wildcats are seen as impolite to delay the #400 milestone to one of the greatest football coaches of all time. This has ill karma tornado written all over it.

Frankly, I hope Paterno gets win #400 - but I want to see it happen next week. JoePa is a class act deserving win #400 and a bowl. One almost feels bad about beating him...almost.

A secondary story line is the return of Persa to his home state. Depending on who you talk to, Persa was either overlooked or outright snubbed as being too small to be a useful Penn State QB. So of course he wants to win in front of the “home” crowd.

NU wants this win as badly as Penn State. I think that gives them a chance.

I’ve set the scene, now here are The Good, The Bad, and The Probable. It all depends on how long the Cats make it a game.

The Good: The Cats play a full 60 minutes. NU comes out of the gate like rabid Wildcats and quickly hangs 21 on the Nittany Lions via two purely offensive drives and one TD from an interception. The Nittany Lions try to get back into the game but are behind by 28 at the half. JoePa says inspiring things at the half and the Nittany Lions roar back but come up short. Coach Paterno, after the game, states that not recruiting Persa is the dumbest thing he’s done in 3-4 years. Final score: Wildcats 38 - Nittany Lions 28. Blood Pressure at end: 154/97

The Bad: The Cats don’t much show up to play. Northwestern stumbles around in awe as the Whiteout blinds them. Everything aligns to make Coach Paterno’s coronation as Mr. 400 a perfect event. Even Persa is neutralized. Final score: NU 17 - PSU 35. Blood Pressure at end: 140/90

The Probable: The Cats play about 58 out of the 60 minutes of the game, but it is enough to just beat the Nittany Lions. The Wildcats come roaring out of the gate but can’t quite put the Nittany Lions away. It is close throughout the game with Northwestern leading for most of the way. It’s 28 - 20 Wildcats with 3 minutes left in the game. Then Penn State starts an epic drive down the field to try to tie the game. With 45 seconds left, they score a touchdown and go for 2 - and fail. Final score: Northwestern 28 - Penn State 26. Blood Pressure at end: 174/107

Go ‘Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)



PS to Wildcats...

A reader of this column contacted me and asked that I put in a plug for the Haitian people. They’ve had a lot of extra suffering this year - the earthquake, brushes with hurricanes, disease, and other bad events. We may be sad when NU loses a football game, but most of us don’t have to deal with disasters like the ones that have hit Haiti this year. So take a look below for a few links to 4-star charities (as judged by www.charitynavigator.org:)

Doctors Without Borders: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

Feed My Starving Children: http://www.fmsc.org/

Habitat for Humanity: http://www.habitat.org/

Go (Give) Cats!


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