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Wildcats Sink Commodores and Boston College Preview

Northwestern Starts Slow, Gathers Steam to Finish Strong, Torpedoes Commodores

It is said that a team improves the most from game 1 to game 2. Northwestern’s performance at Syracuse garnered a win, but not by much.

Against Vanderbilt, Northwestern’s performance was a little less alarming. The Wildcats got the lead for good with a couple of minutes to go. That’s a little easier on my heart and blood pressure than getting the lead with about 44 seconds to go. That said, I thought we were in for a tough night after the first quarter. Indeed, after the first half I had NU’s punter as their MVP to that point.

The best statement of the night came from Coach Fitz when he told a reporter that his message to the offense at halftime was something like “...you’re on a $60,000 per year scholarship - catch the ball!”. Or something like that. Whatever the exact quote was - Well Said!

There *were* a lot of dropped passes in the first half.

The defense was alarming the first quarter, but really upped their game - especially in the second half.

It all came together for the Wildcats in the second half, especially the last quarter. When the Cats’ offense and defense are firing on all cylinders and at the same time, they can be a fearsome force. They combined for a 17-3 advantage over the Commodores in the 4th quarter and iced the game with a minute and change left.

Looking at last week’s predictions, the game came out as The Probable. To quote from last week:

Northwestern keeps going back into the fight over and over again. Things aren’t always pretty - there are still penalties, sacks, and blown coverages, but the Wildcats keep it close enough to where they enter the 4th Quarter driving for a go-ahead TD. After scoring at the midpoint of the 4th, the Wildcat D tightens up and forces a timely turnover. Vanderbilt folds and the Cats get another quick score. By this time, Vanderbilt is playing desperately. But it doesn’t matter - the Wildcats are on cruise control by the waning seconds. And being a very frustrated SEC team, Vanderbilt storms off the field after coming really close to winning, but loses. The final score: Northwestern 33 - Vandy 24.

I picked NU by 9 points; reality had them winning by 10. But whether it was 10 points or 1 point or 40 points, it was a win.

Northwestern is now 2-0. Despite being the only team to play only “BCS Automatic Bid” conference teams AND win, the Wildcats are not ranked. I’ll not debate the fairness of that - it is still early in the college year and the pre-season rankings haven’t quite been shaken to death by reality. (Although University of Louisiana - Monroe (UL-M) certainly caused quite a shake-up by slaughtering the Razorbacks in OT.)


Eagles on the Horizon!

Northwestern is is taking on their third “BCS Automatic Bid” team in a row. Some people thought that NU should have scheduled patsies in their place - just to make sure that there were enough wins to reach bowl eligibility. A few even thought that the Wildcats would be 0-2 at this point, with a possible third loss looming.

Now the Wildcats are facing the Boston College Eagles. Most people have Northwestern favored by anywhere between 3 to about 7 points. A few people have Boston College winning by a couple of points. Almost everyone debates the merits of Northwestern’s season to date as well as their prospects for the rest of the campaign. Long term Wildcat fans worry about “The Curse of the One Stupid Out Of Conference Loss” - the issue that NU seems to have with running the table in the Big Ten “preseason warmups”. Some picked Vandy as the Curse game. Others Boston College. Let’s look at “Prospects” as the theme for this week’s The Good, The Bad, and The Probable.


The Good:

The Northwestern Wildcats looked a little better in Week 2 than in Week 1. However, Northwestern played about 3 quarters of a game. Luckily that was enough to defeat Vanderbilt. But will it be enough to defeat Boston College? The press indicates that Coach Fitz has been very critical of the team. He’s urging them to achieve greatness instead of achieving “just enough to win”. Meanwhile, some NU football supporters are starting to cautiously look ahead at the prospects of a “special season” - whatever that might mean.

The time of kickoff is nigh. Northwestern vs Boston College earns a mid-afternoon start due to the Wildcats 2-0 record and a sense of curiosity about the Cats.

Just like in the Syracuse game...just like in the Vanderbilt game...the Northwestern defense is tested early and often by the long bomb… Bombs actually, since people are apparently still looking at the Syracuse game film where some defenders never turned around to follow the incoming passes. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season...

The Northwestern offense tries a few different things. Colter passing. Mark running. Siemian passing. Mark catching. Colter running. Siemian scrambling. And a field goal attempt here and there. With respect to the passes, they only count if they are caught. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season…

The emphasis on basics - coverage, catching, tackling, and hanging onto the ball - worked. Northwestern puts together four solid quarters of near perfect football. Boston College is whipped for all to see: Wildcats 38 - Eagles 17. The Northwestern Wildcats are suddenly on the national radar as “not being a B1G team that sucks”. Come the following week, NU appears in the national rankings. The fans’ hopes of something special rise.


The Bad:

The Northwestern Wildcats looked a little better in Week 2 than in Week 1. However, Northwestern played about 3 quarters of a game. Luckily that was enough to defeat Vanderbilt. But will it be enough to defeat Boston College? The press indicates that Coach Fitz has been very critical of the team. He’s urging them to achieve greatness instead of achieving “just enough to win”. Meanwhile, some NU football supporters are starting to cautiously look ahead at the prospects of a “special season” - whatever that might mean.

The time of kickoff is nigh. Northwestern vs Boston College earns a mid-afternoon start due to the Wildcats 2-0 record and a sense of curiosity about the Cats.

Just like in the Syracuse game...just like in the Vanderbilt game...the Northwestern defense is tested early and often by the long bomb… Bombs actually, since people are apparently still looking at the Syracuse game film where some defenders never turned around to follow the incoming passes. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season...

The Northwestern offense tries a few different things. Colter passing. Mark running. Siemian passing. Mark catching. Colter running. Siemian scrambling. And a field goal attempt here and there. With respect to the passes, they only count if they are caught. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season…

The emphasis on basics - coverage, catching, tackling, and hanging onto the ball - doesn’t work. If anything, it looks like Northwestern seriously regressed. Northwestern doesn’t put together four solid quarters of near perfect football - they cannot even manage one quarter of decent football. NU is whipped for all to see: NU 17 - Boston College 42. The Northwestern Wildcats are suddenly on the national radar as “being another B1G team that sucks”. Come the following week, everyone talks about how Northwestern is back to being “Northwestern”.


The Probable:

The Northwestern Wildcats looked a little better in Week 2 than in Week 1. However, Northwestern played about 3 quarters of a game. Luckily that was enough to defeat Vanderbilt. But will it be enough to defeat Boston College? The press indicates that Coach Fitz has been very critical of the team. He’s urging them to achieve greatness instead of achieving “just enough to win”. Meanwhile, some NU football supporters are starting to cautiously look ahead at the prospects of a “special season” - whatever that might mean.

The time of kickoff is nigh. Northwestern vs Boston College earns a mid-afternoon start due to the Wildcats 2-0 record and a sense of curiosity about the Cats.

Just like in the Syracuse game...just like in the Vanderbilt game...the Northwestern defense is tested early and often by the long bomb… Bombs actually, since people are apparently still looking at the Syracuse game film where some defenders never turned around to follow the incoming passes. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season...

The Northwestern offense tries a few different things. Colter passing. Mark running. Siemian passing. Mark catching. Colter running. Siemian scrambling. And a field goal attempt here and there. With respect to the passes, they only count if they are caught. Coach Fitz emphasized these issues as needing radical improvement if Northwestern is to have a great season…

The emphasis on basics - coverage, catching, tackling, and hanging onto the ball - sort of works. If NU played 2 quarters against Syracuse and 3 quarters against Vanderbilt, then they play 3.50 quarters against Boston College. However, the 7 minutes 30 seconds that NU checks out against BC turns into a terrifying ride. Northwestern holds on for the win. Northwestern 29 - Boston College 24. The Northwestern Wildcats are the subject of much speculation - are they for real? Or will they crash and burn? Come the following week, NU gets a smattering of votes, but misses the national rankings. The fans’ hopes of something special are very hesitant for at least one more week...or two.


Other Things

The B1G took it in the shorts last week. Who won? Northwestern (yay!), Ohio State (of course), Michigan (close), Michigan State (no surprise), Minnesota (okay), and Indiana (bet they’re excited). Meanwhile, the following teams messed up: Penn State (no huge surprise all things considered), Purdue (could have been a win), Iowa (shame), Illinois (RichRod II?), and Wisconsin/Nebraska (embarrassing).

Go Cats!

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

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