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Two Post Mortems and a Preview

Reality trumped blogging recently. While I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for Northwestern Wildcat football, I don’t get paid for this. Hence, work sucked up a lot of time. Sorry for the delay.

Let’s get to the hurt.

Wolverines Maul Wildcats.

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

The Bad:

The game under the lights in Evanston is the Wildcats’ Big Ten home opener. National coverage, hype, NUMB, it’s all there. It is a pivotal game for both teams - winning has huge implications. For Michigan, it would serve as reassurance that the Wolverines are back. For the Wildcats, it would turn around a season that seems to be going wrong in horrible slow motion.

The expected shootout begins. Both teams score pretty quickly and some fans begin to see parallels with the 2000 Michigan/Northwestern game. The defenses try to stop the galloping offenses. At halftime both teams have scores in the 20’s, with Michigan leading. Wildcat fandom holds its collective breath as the 3rd Quarter begins…

The Wolverines come out of the gate with just the right adjustments to take full advantage of the NU defense. Persa throws his first pick of the year. That leads to a score that takes the winds out of NU’s sails. Going into the 4th Quarter the Wolverines have a two score lead. The Wolverines continue to pour it on. NU limps to the finish and Michigan triumphs in a huge way. The fans ask, “What happened to the season?”

Final Score: NU 24 - Michigan 44. The Wildcats fans are very nervous about the rest of the season.

Yeah, the scenario was quite close to reality - Northwestern 24 - Michigan 42. The Cats fell to 2-3.


More Bad: Iowa Gets Their "W" Back

Then they rolled into Iowa City on the night of 15 October. Iowa got their “w” back with a 41 - 31 thumping of Northwestern. And the Cat’s season now looks increasingly dismal at 2-4 with Penn State ahead.


Penn State Preview:

Which brings us to this installment of “The Good, The Bad, and The Probable” against the Nittany Lions of Penn State.


The Good:

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 hold a 3 point lead.

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.

However, this time something goes right. The Wildcats adjust to their opponent's adjustments, tweaking both offense and defense to stay just out of the Nittany Lions’s jaws. Suddenly, a fourth straight bowl seems almost probable.

Final Score: Wildcats 32 - Nittany Lions 28. The Wildcats celebrate a critical Homecoming victory and have hope going forward.


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.


The Probable:

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 add a touchdown to their lead during the 3rd quarter, but can’t totally shake the Wildcats.

The 4th quarter starts with the Wildcats hanging with Penn State. The team and its supporters slowly gain the confidence that maybe they can take Penn State to the wire and pull out an improbable victory. Persa shows poise in the final moments. With under a minute left, the Wildcats gain the lead. The defense manages to keep Penn State just out of scoring range. As the clock runs out, the Wildcats claim an improbable victory - getting their “patented” Once A Year Upset Victory.

Final Score: NU 35 - Penn State 31. The goal posts don’t quite make it to the lake, but the crowd tries. The victory boosts the Wildcats’ hopes for a bowl bid. The Wildcats awaken...


Looking Ahead...

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.

Go Cats!

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

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