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Penn State Post Mortem and Minnesota Preview


Nittany Lions Outlast Wildcats


Let’s put it simply and directly - the Wildcats lost. It was horrible to watch. Summing it up, the game was The Bad:

The Bad:

Northwestern enters the arena at Penn State. The PSU alums are expecting a win...that’s why NU is the guest at so many Homecomings. The weather, like the crowd, is threatening. Penn State is feeling the momentum of three straight wins. They have defeated NU for the past several years. It is the most hostile environment the Wildcats have faced this year. 

The Wildcats have their own momentum - five straight wins, a record amount of offense the previous week, and one of the top running defenses in the country. Northwestern’s success this year is a big surprise to most people, but not the team nor the coaches. 

“Ancient” history suggests the Nittany Lions will prevail. More recent history suggests the Wildcats will win. On paper, the Wildcats have a slight edge. On territory, the Nittany Lions have the edge. 


On NU’s first possession, Siemian is quarterback and Colter is a wide receiver; it resembles what Indiana faced the previous week. The Lions are ready...and it shows as a pass to Colter is batted down. Second and 10, Siemian drops back to pass, the PSU secondary focuses on Colter...and once again knocks down the pass to Colter. On third and 10, Mark goes up the middle but is short of the first. Punt. 


Northwestern never seems to really get the offense going full tilt, but gets points anyway. They lead into the 4th quarter, but lose: NU 21 - PSU 31.

The doubters are jubilant as they feel justified.

Being blunt, the coaching seemed to be tentative and focused too much on sticking to a game plan that just didn’t work out. The Colter/Mark option seemed to work pretty well; passing, not so much. I chalk it up to coaching errors. 

I hope there isn’t a repeat anytime soon. 


Minnesota Preview


For the second week in a row, Northwestern is the guest at an opposition Homecoming. And for the third week in a row, the opposition had a full two weeks to prepare. 

Northwestern has gotten screwed on the scheduling. 

So it really boils down to the following: will Northwestern get back to what has worked for them or will they persist in offensive madness? Will the coaches find their way back from the wilderness? Let’s cut to the chase: The Good/Bad/Probable.

The Good:

Northwestern is on the road for the second week in a row. And likewise, they are the “guest” for Homecoming. The sting of the first loss of the season is still fresh in the team’s mind. Some say that the true measure of a team is how they react to adversity. Being nationally ranked, going into the 4th quarter with a two score lead, and then tanking in the final 15 will be a test. The Wildcats went from being in the driver’s seat for the Legends title to struggling to restore hope to the Wildcat “faithful”. 

The Golden Gophers might be having a special season; they are 4-1 and looking pretty good. However, they got spanked two weeks ago by the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Legends division is now essentially in single-elimination mode. A loss now makes it very unlikely that the Gophers could make the big game in Indianapolis. 

Both teams are coming off of very frustrating losses. It will be a rumble. 

The first quarter starts out explosively for the Wildcats. They run the Colter/Mark option and tear up the field. And again. The Wildcat offense is on a rage fueled frenzy. The defense is similarly charged up, forcing a couple of 3&outs on the Gophers. 

By halftime, the Cats are up 35-10. Some Wildcat fans worry that a 25 point lead will not be enough. As the second half begins, it is apparent that the team has been told to keep the heat going. The Gophers are bombed via the air, run over via the ground, and beat up by the defense. For the first time ever, it appears that Coach Fitz is not turning off the scoring. With about six or seven minutes left, the heat is turned off. 

The point is made. Wildcats 56 - Gophers 24. No more Mr. Nice Cat.
Northwestern remains in contention for the Legends Division and hits bowl qualification.

The Bad:

Northwestern is on the road for the second week in a row. And likewise, they are the “guest” for Homecoming. The sting of the first loss of the season is still fresh in the team’s mind. Some say that the true measure of a team is how they react to adversity. Being nationally ranked, going into the 4th quarter with a two score lead, and then tanking in the final 15 will be a test. The Wildcats went from being in the driver’s seat for the Legends title to struggling to restore hope to the Wildcat “faithful”. 

The Golden Gophers might be having a special season; they are 4-1 and looking pretty good. However, they got spanked two weeks ago by the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Legends division is now essentially in single-elimination mode. A loss now makes it very unlikely that the Gophers could make the big game in Indianapolis. 

Both teams are coming off of very frustrating losses. It will be a rumble. 

The first quarter starts out explosively for the Gophers. They run; they pass; and they tear up the field...scoring again and again. The Gopher offense is on a rage fueled frenzy. The defense is similarly charged up, forcing a couple of 3&outs on the Wildcats. 

By halftime, the Gophers are up 35-10. The Wildcat fans are praying for a miracle. As the second half begins, it is apparent that the home team has been told to keep the heat going. The Gophers bomb the Wildcats via the air, run over via the ground, and beat up the defense. Coach Kill is going for the...wait for it...the kill. With about six or seven minutes left, the Gophers turn the heat off. 

NU 24 - Minny 56. A “special” season is now a season on the brink. 

The Probable:

Northwestern is on the road for the second week in a row. And likewise, they are the “guest” for Homecoming. The sting of the first loss of the season is still fresh in the team’s mind. Some say that the true measure of a team is how they react to adversity. Being nationally ranked, going into the 4th quarter with a two score lead, and then tanking in the final 15. The Wildcats went from being in the driver’s seat for the Legends title to struggling to restore hope to the Wildcat “faithful”. 

The Golden Gophers might be having a special season; they are 4-1 and looking pretty good. However, they got spanked two weeks ago by the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Legends division is now essentially in single-elimination mode. A loss now makes it very unlikely that the Gophers could make the big game in Indianapolis. 

Both teams are coming off of very frustrating losses. It will be a rumble. 

The first quarter starts out explosively for the Wildcats. They run the Colter/Mark option and tear up the field. The defense is similarly charged up, forcing a couple of 3&outs on the Gophers. 

By halftime, the Cats are up 27-17. A number of Wildcat fans worry that a 10 point lead will not be enough. As the second half begins, it is apparent that the team has been told to keep the heat going. But the Gophers are not going to give up. The game intensifies. As the 4th quarter begins, the game remains contested. With less than a minute to go, a CardiacCats steal secures the game. 

CardiacCats 41 - Minnesota 30. Northwestern remains in contention for the Legends Division and hits bowl qualification.


Other Things


Northwestern is no longer undefeated. This brings up a philosophical question: which is better - losing your first game of the season, then winning five straight? Or winning five straight and then losing one? Or somewhere in between? 

Any guesses about how many Wildcat “fans” are happy with five wins, six games into the season? The expectations are much higher than they were when I was at NU. 

More later.

Go Cats!

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

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