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ANOTHER Post Mortem and a Preview

Reality continues to trump blogging recently. While I *STILL* enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for Wildcat football, I still don’t get paid for this. Hence, work sucked up a lot of time recently. And I have to work during this Saturday’s game - so no tweeting of game details.

Let’s get to this week’s 2 and 5, Homecoming Loss hurt.

Nittany Lions Outlast Wildcats.

Cutting to the chase, this game turned out to be The Bad. Looking at my scenario analysis:

The Bad:

The Wildcats are under the lights for the third straight Saturday. This time it is Homecoming against the Penn State Nittany Lions. NUMB, NUMBALUMS, and all the rest of the Wildcat faithful are anxiously awaiting the coming battle. A win would go a long way toward rescuing a season that seems to be in a free fall not seen in years. A loss dims hopes for the Wildcats to make their record fourth straight bowl appearance.

Both teams come out somewhat tentative. While Penn State has rarely impressed, they have quietly climbed to 6-1 and a national ranking. Impressive or not, a win is a win and JoePa gets things done. The Wildcats go in for a quick score in the first quarter, but Penn State responds. Going into the half, the Wildcats have a 3 point deficit. The Cats are hopeful.

The Northwestern faithful hold their breath - fearing the worst...another 2nd half collapse. In the previous losses, the eventual victors adjusted to the Wildcat attack/defense and finished out the game by gaining the upper hand. Since the Nittany Lions already have the upper hand, any increase is deadly.

JoePa shows why he is a living legend. After probing the Wildcats for two quarters, everything Penn State shifts into high gear. The Nittany Lions quickly build a large lead during the 3rd quarter and cruise to victory in the 4th. The Wildcat agony ends with a virtual “No Mas” - Coach Fitz puts 2nd and 3rd team players in to get valuable experience as he realizes this game is out of NU’s grasp. JoePa, classy as always, calls off the attack and puts his own reserves in. The game ends with both teams’ reserves scrimmaging one another.

Final Score: NU 28 - Penn State 42. The score isn’t even as close as it might appear. The Wildcats’ collective bowl hopes hang by a thread.


Yeah, the scenario was quite close to reality - Northwestern 24 - Penn State 34. The Wildcats were competitive and didn’t give up. The team kept spirits up as did many in the crowd (and everyone in NUMB by the way…). The Cats fell to 2-5 after dropping their 5th straight, leaving bowl hopes hanging by a slender thread.

Part of the agony is that the Wildcats have mostly looked good for much of the game. This one was no exception. But little things go wrong and the effects seem exponential - tipped passes deep in enemy territory becoming interceptions which become a quick seven for the opponent...effectively a 14 point swing in momentum. Northwestern is a few minutes shy of being 5-2 (or better).

But as one pro writer puts it, “The great teams get it done and finish games.”

Which brings us to this installment of “The Good, The Bad, and The Probable” against the Indiana Hoosiers.


The Good:

The Wildcats are visiting Indiana; a team even more snakebit than NU. A loss almost totally extinguishes hopes for the Wildcats to make their record fourth straight bowl appearance.

Both teams come out somewhat tentative. But NU quickly establishes momentum and by halftime they hold a 10 point lead.

The Northwestern faithful again hold their breath - fearing the worst...another 2nd half collapse. In the previous losses, the eventual victors adjusted to the Wildcat attack/defense and finished out the game by gaining the upper hand.

However, this time something goes right. The Wildcats adjust to their opponent's adjustments, tweaking both offense and defense to stay just ahead of the Hoosiers. Suddenly, a fourth straight bowl seems a little less improbable.

Final Score: Wildcats 38 - Hoosiers 24. The Wildcats celebrate a critical victory and have hope going forward into Nebraska week.


The Bad:

The Wildcats are visiting Indiana; a team even more snakebit than NU. A loss almost totally extinguishes hopes for the Wildcats to make their record fourth straight bowl appearance.

Both teams come out somewhat tentative. But NU quickly establishes momentum and by halftime they hold a 7 point lead, which really should have been a 10 point lead except for muffing the clock management.

The Northwestern faithful again hold their breath - fearing the worst...yet another 2nd half collapse. In the previous losses, the eventual victors adjusted to the Wildcat attack/defense and finished out the game by gaining the upper hand.

...And the horror plays out for the 6th straight week. The Hoosiers figure out Northwestern and climb back into the game. Going into the 4th quarter Indiana gets their first lead and doesn’t look back. NU goes on another road trip - one that will likely seal their (non-)bowling fate at the hands of Nebraska. More fair weather Cats fans walk away from the team to await their return to victory.

Final Score: Wildcats 31 - Hoosiers 38. The Wildcats’ margin for error drops to zero with contests against Nebraska and Michigan State to come. It looks like the Wildcats will be watching bowl games rather than playing in them.


The Probable:

The Wildcats are visiting Indiana; a team even more snakebit than NU. A loss almost totally extinguishes hopes for the Wildcats to make their record fourth straight bowl appearance.

Both teams come out somewhat tentative. But NU quickly establishes momentum and by halftime they hold a touchdown lead.

The Northwestern faithful again hold their breath - fearing the worst...another 2nd half collapse. In the previous losses, the eventual victors adjusted to the Wildcat attack/defense and finished out the game by gaining the upper hand.

However, this time something goes a little right. The Hoosiers respond to the Wildcats and briefly take a 4 point lead. However, the Wildcats adjust to their opponent's adjustments, tweaking both offense and defense to stay just ahead of the Hoosiers. It’s an ugly finish but one that finishes as a Wildcat win, moving the Cats to 3-5 and keeping hope alive (barely).

Final Score: Wildcats 38 - Hoosiers 31. The Wildcats celebrate a critical victory and have hope going forward into Nebraska week.


Looking Ahead...

No really I’m going to do it. I’ve just had a lot of overtime lately. (I’m not complaining though. Thank God I have a job…) I still (really) owe the world my own opinions regarding the cacophony surrounding conference realignments and the miasma of ethical lapses throughout college football. I think it is probable the college football landscape will change radically. And there is the chance that it could come unglued, splitting into two “divisions” - a much smaller NCAA division much like today’s, and another that all but declares itself a AAA minor-league for Pro Football.

Oh yeah...NU is playing Nebraska next week. Bowl????

Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
NUMBSpiritLeader@gmail.com
Twitter: #nuspiritleader.

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