- @ Boston College, 24-17 (W)
- Eastern Illinois, 42-21 (W)
- @ Army, 14-21 (L)
- @ Illinois, 35-38 (L)
- No. 12 Michigan, 24-42 (L)
- @ Iowa, 31-41 (L)
- No. 21 Penn State, 24-34 (L)
- @ Indiana, 59-38 (W)
- @ No. 10 Nebraska, 28-25 (W)
- Rice, 28-6 (W)
- Minnesota, 28-13 (W)
- No. 14 Michigan State, 17-31 (L)
- Texas A&M, 22-33 (L), Texas Bowl
Record: 6-7 overall, 3-5 B1G, 5th place Bo Division
|Rush:||166.6 ypg, 45th||176.7, 83rd|
|Pass:||254.2 ypg, 38th||230.4, 71st|
|Total:||420.8 ypg, 34th||407.1 ypg, 80th|
|Scoring:||28.9 ppg, 51st||27.7 ppg, 66th|
|T/O margin:||+3, 40th|
Recap: My friend who went to Northwestern tells me that the campus isn’t as pretty as I remember it (from about a decade ago, when I went there for nerd camp) due to deforestation. Can someone confirm this? If so, that sucks.
That has nothing to do with their football season, which was one most Wildcats fans would probably want to forget. You kind of don’t feel too bad for them, though, because they set themselves up for disappointment. But hey, at least the Heisman campaign was pretty epic. I wonder if I asked nicely I could have some surplus Persastrong dumbells.
(more after the jump)
Most people are pretty familiar with the Dan Persa saga. He beat Iowa last year but tore his Achilles tendon right after throwing the winning touchdown (insert Iliad joke). Northwestern dropped their last three games without Persa, which, idunno, maybe they would have won one of those games -- Texas Tech or Illinois, but not both -- with him. Regardless, Persa spent most of the offseason in a tank full of bacta.
Because his completion percentage was so high last year, the school decided to do one of those increase awareness things over the summer to get him on the Heisman radar. I think there may have been a miscommunication between the athletic department and the trainers, however, because Persa didn’t return to action until the fourth game of the season against Illinois, and even then he seemed pretty limited. Kind of hard to win a Heisman that way.
His backup this year was a guy named Kain Colter. You may remember him whoop-whooping Kovacs on an option keeper en route to the endzone back in October. While Persa was healthy, Colter was a runner/change-of-pace guy who seemed to have a handful of specific plays designed for him, a la Denard 2009. The offense struggled under Colter during his first few starts when Persa was out, but later he seemed to come into his own, leading the valiant charge against Nebraska when Persa went down again.
Despite uncertainty at the quarterback position, offense wasn’t really to blame for the Wildcats’ losing season. The real culprit was a defense that blew an 18-point lead against Illinois and a 14-point lead against Michigan and gave Matt McGloin his best game of the season. Not that they were much better in 2010, but in 2011 Northwestern returned seven guys on that side of the ball, and most of their secondary was composed of upperclassmen, so I’m not sure what the deal was. Something amiss with player development maybe? [Ed-S: the DBs just aren't any good].
Anyhow, this was a potentially 8-5 team that ended up 6-7 due to unfortunate circumstances on offense. Down the stretch the offense will be just fine, what with USC transplant WR Kyle Prater joining the roster and Colter and RB Mike Trumpy hanging around for the next two years. Defensively, who knows? Given the defensive back play this year (116th!!! in passing S&P) Pat Fitzgerald ought to triple-check his staff for Tony Gibsons. #TonyGibsonsareNOjoke
Best win: @ No. 10 Nebraska.
Worst loss: No. 12 Michigan.
At the time, we thought they were as frightening as: Purdue, but better. 4.
Now we know they are as frightening as: 2009 Michigan, but better. 4.
What the win meant for Michigan: Given the fact that it was a come-from-behind win on the road after a 28-0 second-half performance, I don’t think anyone was too concerned. 6-0 was 6-0, and now they had to just freaking beat State.
Concern crept in inexorably after the postgame inebriation wore off anyway. If you ignored the numbers you realized that Michigan played like crap until Northwestern decided to play crappier. Hoke said it himself at the postgame presser, admitting that despite the whole “woo second half adjustments” thing touted by the blogosphere, the Wolverines didn’t make any second half adjustments. They just said, “Stop playing stupid.”
Actually that’s not true. They made one adjustment: they split Jake Ryan out on the slot receiver so that bubble screens would go for five yards instead of eight.
That doesn’t account for a 28-point swing. Denard did settle down after the break -- probably needed a quarter to forget the ex-girlfriend Twitter hack -- but what helped most was the Wildcats’ sudden inability to move the ball. They threw one or two bubble screens that went for five yards instead of eight and decided to drop it completely. They stopped running the veer. They took Colter out of the game.
What was most disquieting about this game was the Wolverines’ inability to run the ball. Denard averaged just under five yards a carry but had to exit the game after 25 carries because the running backs were averaging well under three yards. This would bode poorly for Michigan State.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Running Dexter-Ann Arbor with people who think it’s a great idea to sprint the first couple miles.