Northwestern: Big Ten sleeper?

Submitted by jmblue on October 7th, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Quietly, the Cats are 5-0.  Granted, they've achieved that record in unimpressive fashion, but Northwestern always seems to play to the level of its competition.  They don't blow teams out, but rarely get blown out themselves.  They have a very good QB in Dan Persa, and as we've seen, when you have great quarterbacking, that just makes life a lot easier.  Persa is leading them in rushing and has completed 79 percent (!) of his pass attempts. 

Here's NU's remaining schedule:

Oct. 9   PURDUE

Oct. 16   Bye

Oct. 23  MICHIGAN STATE

Oct. 30  at Indiana

Nov. 6   at Penn State

Nov. 13  IOWA

Nov. 20  ILLINOIS

Nov. 27  at Wisconsin

Yep, no Michigan or OSU.  (How is it that one team always dodges both of us?)  They get Iowa and MSU at home, and that trip to PSU doesn't look nearly as tough anymore.  Wisconsin on the road might be the toughest game, but UW has not lived up to preseason expectations thus far.  I don't expect them to run the table, but if the conference champ has one or two losses, they could be in that picture.   

Comments

WestCBlue

October 7th, 2010 at 4:02 PM ^

judging by it's replies might be sleeping.

BUT I like it.  What Fitz's has done there is amazing.

Will Gholston and Lawrence Thomas have never taken an official visit....between the 2 of them!

mGrowOld

October 7th, 2010 at 9:21 PM ^

One of the starting CBs at Northwestern is the son of a good friend of mine, Jordan Mabin.  Jordin was all-everything tailback here in Northern Ohio who played a little DB as a senior but mostly ran the hell out of the ball for Nordonia.  I took him and his dad (an ex Louiseville Cardinal CB himself) to tailgates and games when the kid was about 15 on.  He got invited to several Michigan camps where his he totally shut down whatever wide reciever we put in front of him but Lloyd refused to offer him.  I tried to get an answer from somebody inside the program why they werent' interested (he was ready to sign if offered) and all i could get back was "he's only 5'10".  Once the Widcats offered his dad said to hell with Michigan and committed.

He'd look pretty damn good in our secondary right about now dont you think?

jamiemac

October 7th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

I have been calling them a 9-win team since June. They could easily win 10

Jeremy Ebert will HOUSE big 10 secondaries all season. Except ours, lol!!! Phew, a big schedule dodge.

Speaking of schedule dodge, we have seen these teams in the past that skip UM and OSU actually end up taking the gas pipe. I was thinking about that as the Cats struggled with Minnesota.

Key Stat: The Cats are 17-6 under Fitz in games decided by a TD or less. All they do is play--and win--close games.

bluewave720

October 7th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

I really think that NW beats MSU.  That's not me being a dickhead Michigan fan.  I mean, I am a dickhead, but I really do think that passing game is going to be too much for Sparty.

Braylon 5 Hour…

October 7th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

at least 9-3??? 

Home to MSU, home to Iowa, @ wisconsin are all losses.

Between @ Indiana and @ PSU, that'll be one loss at least

Purdue sucks but Illinois challenged Ohio State, I'm not sure what Northwestern has done to look good other than beat bad teams so far. They are not a player for the Big 10 championship unless about 6 teams leave the conference before the end of the season. 

jamiemac

October 7th, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

Not for nothing, but Northwestern is 25-14 in the last 7 years in the Big 10 against teams not named OSU, UM or PSU. They are tied for the fifth best league record over the last 10 years. They're 4-2 in their last 6 games vs both Iowa and Wisconsin and 6-1 vs Illinois.

I'll take your action against all of the seven squads you mentioned straight up and probably come out ahead.

Just sayin'

Braylon 5 Hour…

October 7th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

Jamie, if this Northwestern team ends up with 10 wins this season I will never disagree with you again, and I'll put up a forum post praising your greatness.

Although they avoid UM and OSU, this is still a pretty good Big 10 conference this year and Northwestern's team hasn't proven a whole lot. The track record is good but do you consider them to be the favorites against Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, or Penn State? Not saying they won't win any of those games, but just curious. 

CountryBlue

October 7th, 2010 at 4:17 PM ^

i only hope they beat MSU if we beat MSU... but seeing as that shouldn't be a problem, i will be pulling for the annual state fall apart to keep my in-state bragging rights alive...

Braylon 5 Hour…

October 7th, 2010 at 4:24 PM ^

as much as PSU is being bashed so far, aren't they a 2 loss team that has lost to Iowa and #1 Alabama on the road? They haven't looked great but they aren't exactly outmatched in a home game vs. Northwestern, who has beaten the tough schedule so far of Vanderbilt and Minnesota by a combined 3 points, and then Central Michigan, Illinois State, and Rice...

jmblue

October 7th, 2010 at 4:29 PM ^

When you've only played five games, being a two-loss team is not really an accomplishment.  And they really haven't impressed in their three wins, either.

As for Northwestern, as I said in the OP, they do that every year.  They always seem to play to the level of their opposition. 

Braylon 5 Hour…

October 7th, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

agreed, not saying that Penn State is much of anything, all I'm saying is if Northwestern had those 2 road games on their schedule in their first 5 games, they'd be 3-2 also, and NW hasnt' exactly done so much that I'm going to automatically give them a win in Happy Valley against a Joe Paterno coached team. Penn State can still play defense and run the football (O-line willing), and NW is not a defensive powerhouse.  

jamiemac

October 7th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

I dont know about that.

Northwestern has won three straight games AT Kinnick Stadium, while PSU only has one overall win period against Iowa in the last decade.

Northwestern would have pushed (and will push when they play in Evanston later this year) Iowa much harder and based on recent series probably won the game.

WildcatBlue

October 7th, 2010 at 5:18 PM ^

Before you read too much into Saturday's gaffe-fest at Minny, remember that last year NU lost to the Gophers and, unbelievably, Syracuse... before winning at Iowa and at home against Wisconsin.  The fact that the Wildcats won ugly despite three red zone turnovers is a novel and auspicious development.  

Other factors to keep in mind:

Fitzgerald has been stubborn as hell trying to find a non-Persa based run game, but will be forced to revert to his typical pass happy playcalling in tough games.  Persa's numbers are going to be astounding at least a few games this year.

TE/SB Drake Dunsmore is as scary  and essential as Ebert, and was out for the second half vs. Minny.  He's cleared to play against Purdue, so woot.   

NU shot itself in the foot with penalties the last two weeks but if the past is a guide that is unlikely to be a problem going forward.  Fitzgerald's teams are usually some of the least penalized in the league.

I think the Knowledge is right on at 6-2, but those two losses will still be competitive.

Young Pretty a…

October 7th, 2010 at 5:09 PM ^

Even with their non conference and conference schedule being a joke, they could easily have a current record of 2-3.  Slipping by CMU and winning by the skins of their teeth versus Minnesota and Vandy.  Yes the same Vandy team that last week that was blown out by U Conn. 

M-Wolverine

October 7th, 2010 at 6:50 PM ^

They just haven't looked like a good Northwestern team this year. But as others have said, they do play down to the level of their competition a bit. They'll have a good record no matter what with that schedule, but Big Ten Champs? I'm eyeing that MSU game. Spartans are probably a better team at home, but that bye week before it is interesting. Win that game, and who knows? If OSU doesn't run the table, we're almost assuredly looking at a one loss Champ.

Paskanen

October 7th, 2010 at 7:31 PM ^

The gophers played their butts off. The end result was a typical Gopher-Wildcat game. The cats looked slow and weak but had little difficulty moving the ball. NW's Defense looked anemic, yet kept the ball out of the endzone. And, in the end, Weber could have been a hero, per weekend routine.

I think NW will beat Iowa in boring fashion. Wisconsin should have enough end-of-season rage/frustration to blow them out of the water.

Indiana Blue

October 7th, 2010 at 8:25 PM ^

No one is taking about them ... nobody.

NW is totally dependent on Persa.  He is 75.2% of their offense (all passing).  Denard is 67.7% of the offense (nearly 50/50 run and pass).  What happens to NW if Persa goes down (#1 topic with Denard) ....  they lose.   Also what happens to a team totally dependent on the pass when its cold with rain or snow ??? 

I think everyone will agree that the conference split into divisions will ruin the Big10 pretenders that seem to show up when they don't play the upper teams ... NW, Iowa, Purdue go ahead and stand up - in fact, MSU stand up too since you don't play OSU this year.  Finally this will end.  Starting next year NW gets Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and msu every year ... not sayin ... just sayin !

Go Blue !