Punt-Counterpunt: Northwestern 2012 Comment Count

Brian November 10th, 2012 at 2:12 AM

offense sign[1]congress of vienna dancing[1]


Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.


By Ken “Sky” Walker

In days gone by, Northwestern vs. Michigan was akin to David vs. Goliath. But unlike the biblical contest, David always ended up as road kill. Mighty Michigan would score 50 – 70 points easily. Cheerleaders did so many backflips off the stadium wall, they’d be throwing up by the end of the game (the wall was lower then). A good portion of the crowd did so too, having consumed amazing quantities of cheap wine. But nothing beat lugging a quarter barrel tapper up Hoover and being rewarded for your efforts with admission to the stadium. (Yes boys and girls, it’s true!). Ah, those were the days…

More often than not, the Wildcats were the homecoming opponents. Like Christians being served to the lions for the pleasure of all the ‘old blues’. The perennial purple patsy, Northwestern never got – nor deserved - any respect. “Why are they in our league?” and “We need to find a replacement for them!” were frequently-heard utterances. But things changed, as they are bound to do, and the boys from Evanston started getting just a modicum of respect.

Current Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was part of that, playing on a ranked team that beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, a mind blowing occurrence if there ever was one. And then they did it again the next year in Evanston. Any mystique held by Michigan was at an end. I don’t think Michigan football has ever been the same since. There are those that claim the Wildcat victories those years were a result of a former Michigan coach joining the Northwestern staff and giving them all of the Wolverines’ plays. True or not, I can’t fault Northwestern for taking advantage, but I can sure blame Michigan for not anticipating this and tweaking their game plan a bit.

You can bet that the Wildcats aren’t going to be intimidated by playing in the Big House. This team plays in front of home crowds that are routinely outnumbered by the opposing team’s fans (That’s got to hurt). The fact that the Wolverines are only a 9½ point favorite at home, tells you the odds makers aren’t real confident in Michigan’s ability to handle Northwestern with any ease. They’re coming off a bye week, so they’ve had time to prepare for both of Michigan’s likely QB starters. Their own Kain Colter is also a dual-threat and a more accurate passer than either of Michigan’s quarterbacks.

The Wildcats are trying to win back-to-back games in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1934 & '36. They are the ranked team in today’s contest, yet they are the underdog. It seems to be a perfect setup for them to make Michigan’s already underwhelming season, one for the dumpster.

Michigan 20 Northwestern 23



By Nick RoUMel

How do the 24th ranked Wildcats feel about playing Michigan? 1000-yard rusher Venric Mark was quoted on Northwestern’s official website, "I'm excited but I'm not overly excited right now." Which led me to wonder, what does it mean to be overly excited?

Urban Dictionary defines “over excitement” as “being too excited about a minuscule idea, activity or item. Example: “Hey! Look at this new video game I got! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WOW OH MY GOD THAT'S AMAZING. HOLY COW. CAN I TOUCH IT?

Symptoms of over-excitement, according to www.calmdownmind.com, include being overly talkative, fidgety, and impatient. For a football player, this might involve overrunning a tackle, biting on a fake, or—like Maurice Gholston—attempting to twist Denard Robinson’s head off like a bottle cap.

In Punt’s case, over-excitement is betrayed when he bolts upright from his La-Z-Boy, sloshing his Long Island Iced Tea, and swearing at the TV over a Michigan one-yard loss or an opponent’s first down. (Punt also tends to get over-excited when he’s driving, and other drivers change lanes too quickly or fail to signal. But I digress.)

Without proper self-discipline, a superior team like Northwestern might betray over-excitement by celebrating a victory over a lesser opponent, such as Michigan. In Venric’s case, I suppose he does not want to be overly excited about such a small achievement. He may consider that a “miniscule activity” not worth celebrating.

The author of the URL cited above, the calm and contemplative “Sen,” believes over-excitement can be overcome only by a long and time-consuming process of discipline and self-awareness. However, I would suggest that Venric Mark may find freedom from over-excitement in another, swifter fashion …

… when Michigan kicks his purple-clad ass halfway across Lake Michigan.




November 10th, 2012 at 6:18 AM ^

My research so far indicates that the only member of NW's coaching staff in 1995-1996 with any connection to Michigan was Ron Vanderlinden, who was a UM graduate assistant coach—in 1979 and 1980. The idea that this experience could be thought to have even the tiniest bit of relevance or impact on Northwestern's victories over Michigan a full 15 years later is nothing less than idiotic. Whatever the reasons were for our losses to those NW teams, they had absolutely nothing to do with "turncoat" former UM assistants—the Wildcats beat us because they were the better team those years.


November 10th, 2012 at 6:49 AM ^

Respectively disagree with Punt.

So far the season has not been underwhelming. I would say it has met expectations of most people. We've got to win at least the next two games but if we do that then I'd say we would have achieved or maybe even exceeded expectations considering the level of competition of the games we've lost, two of those losses being competitive, and the that we've been missing our starting QB for at least 1.5 games.

All this said let's just beat NW and hope for the best in Lincoln.


November 10th, 2012 at 7:30 AM ^

When I was a student, I would get to the stadium way too early and grab a free program.  I would hurriedly get to my seat and then wait.  For about 75 minutes.  My buddies would meet up with me much later, so I would pass the time stressing out over the game and reading "Punt/Counterpunt."  

Over a decade later, things have certainly mellowed out for me.  I don't get to the stadium 90 minutes early and I certainly don't sit wringing my hands over the possible outcome.  Now the waiting I do on Saturady morning is for everyone to wake up so that I can play Barbies, take the dog for a run and figure out which house I'm driving to after the game (in-laws, my house, her grandparents).  But while I wait, I once again have my "Punt/Counterpunt."  Awesome.

O.J. The Bouvier

November 10th, 2012 at 9:23 AM ^

This isn't my favorite mgoblog feature.

There is no reason to pick against Michigan in this game. That's not to say that Northwestern cannot win, but rather that there's no reason to predict it.

Are you two contractually obligated to disagree every week - you know, because of the whole "punt-counterpunt" thing? Because it seems pretty schticky and contrived.