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** 2018 Opponent Previews: Northwestern (Game 7) **

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The Athletic: Northwestern football’s new construction

On a delightful late April morning, the sun splashes on construction equipment and workers in hard hats milling about what appears to be a massive spaceship docked on 500,000 square feet of prime Lake Michigan real estate. This is Ryan Fieldhouse, the new $260 million facility that soon will be home to Northwestern football. With lake waves lapping against the shore and a clear view of the Chicago skyline from the indoor practice field, it’s a vision in every sense, and it is only too fitting that the program is not quite there yet.

 

About a mile away, Pat Fitzgerald sits in the office that sometimes floods when it rains, as his players finish a morning workout in a weight room they have to share with the men’s basketball squad. The Wildcats’ 43-year-old head coach cannot mask his excitement that all of it will be a relic of the past in a matter of weeks, and that he can build off a 10-win season with one of his youngest squads under the roof of a veritable college football fantasyland previously inconceivable at this place. But he also knows that’s been the trick, be it with facilities or on-the-field results: Executing the build.

https://theathletic.com/341296/2018/05/16/northwestern-football-season-preview-schedule-depth-chart-schedule/ (requires sub)

 

 

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Athlon: 2018 Wildcats Preview and Prediction

Northwestern is coming off of a 10-win season but must replace the program's all-time leading rusher and hope its quarterback can come back quickly from a serious knee injury. The defense could take another step forward, especially if its star players can stay healthy. The Wildcats will be tested but if all of the pieces come together, Pat Fitzgerald's teams could be a surprise contender in the Big Ten West Division.

https://athlonsports.com/college-football/northwestern-football-2018-wildcats-preview-and-prediction

 

 

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CollegeFootballNews: Is This Really A Power Program Now?

The staying power is finally here. With a second ten-win season in three years and a third in six years, Northwestern is well past the point of just being some try-hard, feel-good-story program under Pat Fitzgerald. After years and years of pushing, on the low end, this is a regular team in the bowl pecking order, and in a perfect world, Fitzgerald might be on the verge of creating another Stanford. The pivot to go from Point B to C – meaning being a player in the conference championship race – could be coming soon. The practice facilities are amazing, Fitzgerald just landed former Clemson super-recruit quarterback Hunter Johnson for 2019, and the results are there to finally recognize Northwestern football as a true success.

https://collegefootballnews.com/2018/06/northwestern-wildcats-college-football-preview-2018

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction

 

 

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SBNation: Northwestern keeps slowly getting better

NU began by losing to the first three power conference teams it faced. The Wildcats got stomped by a pretty mediocre Duke and played well in spurts against Wisconsin (fourth quarter) and Penn State (first half) before losing by a combined 64-31. Heading into the second week of October, they were 2-3 and had only shown a couple hints of being a top-50 team, much less top-25.

Then they won their final eight games. Ignoring the bowl win over Kentucky — a messy, mostly meaningless mash-up of injuries, turnovers, more injuries, and don’t-give-a-damn play-calling — Northwestern’s turnaround was a master class in the importance of the Little Things™.

https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2018/6/28/17496908/northwestern-football-2018-preview-schedule-roster

 

 

 

More to come...

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I'm very confident in a Nebraska win here. NW season was a very weak 10 win team last year.  0.3 ypp differential for a 10 win team is very, very low. Don't trust teams that win a lot of close games.

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1 hour ago, brophog said:

I'm very confident in a Nebraska win here. NW season was a very weak 10 win team last year.  0.3 ypp differential for a 10 win team is very, very low. Don't trust teams that win a lot of close games.

 

Northwestern is solid and they don't beat themselves.

 

We have been the better team pretty much every time we've played Northwestern - usually by a wide margin.  But we've managed to shoot ourselves in the foot (repeatedly) enough to make the games interesting.

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2 minutes ago, Mavric said:

 

Northwestern is solid and they don't beat themselves.

 

We have been the better team pretty much every time we've played Northwestern - usually by a wide margin.  But we've managed to shoot ourselves in the foot (repeatedly) enough to make the games interesting.

If we are the better team every year - add SF and i can't see how this doesn't lean in our favor to a 3:1 ratio

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We're one Hail Mary in this series from the visiting team winning every game in our series with them.  Needless to say, i like when we play them at their place.

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That rivals writer suggests an 8-4 season, and I postulate it could be a lot worse. It's easy to understand why 8 wins; take the 10 last year and chop off a couple to account for the tougher schedule. The problem is that 10 win team didn't put up the performance metrics of a 10 win team, they got there by winning several close games. That already suggests a strong possibility for a sharp downturn the next year.

 

The opening set of games are deceptively tricky when you consider how poor the offense for Northwestern may be the first month. At Purdue and then home to Duke is not as easy as it sounds. Brohm has Purdue set up to make a year 2 jump. They may not show it in an increase in wins as last year's team was slightly overrated, but they will in performance, regardless of QB. Duke will have enough offense to pose a threat, as they tend to play some of their best ball early season. Akron is pretty poor.

 

1-2 is possible before the two Michigan games and then Nebraska. By midseason break, otherwise known as Rutgers, it's not a stretch to suggest Northwestern is 1-5. The order of the games this season does Northwestern no favors. Sure, Minnesota and Illinois look like very likely wins now, but they are in the final two weeks. They play their final 9 games without a bye, and if the season trends downward early, those could snowball into unexpected losses.

 

7 or 8 wins are certainly plausible, but I'm suggesting no one should really be surprised if it is only 3 or 4 wins.

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On 5/26/2018 at 4:34 PM, brophog said:

That rivals writer suggests an 8-4 season, and I postulate it could be a lot worse. It's easy to understand why 8 wins; take the 10 last year and chop off a couple to account for the tougher schedule. The problem is that 10 win team didn't put up the performance metrics of a 10 win team, they got there by winning several close games. That already suggests a strong possibility for a sharp downturn the next year.

 

The opening set of games are deceptively tricky when you consider how poor the offense for Northwestern may be the first month. At Purdue and then home to Duke is not as easy as it sounds. Brohm has Purdue set up to make a year 2 jump. They may not show it in an increase in wins as last year's team was slightly overrated, but they will in performance, regardless of QB. Duke will have enough offense to pose a threat, as they tend to play some of their best ball early season. Akron is pretty poor.

 

1-2 is possible before the two Michigan games and then Nebraska. By midseason break, otherwise known as Rutgers, it's not a stretch to suggest Northwestern is 1-5. The order of the games this season does Northwestern no favors. Sure, Minnesota and Illinois look like very likely wins now, but they are in the final two weeks. They play their final 9 games without a bye, and if the season trends downward early, those could snowball into unexpected losses.

 

7 or 8 wins are certainly plausible, but I'm suggesting no one should really be surprised if it is only 3 or 4 wins.

 

That schedule is almost as tough as Nebraska's this year.  They are assuming a lot if they find 8 wins.  They are saying Iowa and Nebraska are wins for them, which I don't  think is any kind of a foregone conclusion.  They needed OT against a 4 win Nebraska team, and they should have lost the game if they just play it safe and kick a FG.  Thorson is coming off ACL injury they don't have the RB.  There defense should be ok but lots of ifs.  I could see a 5-6 win season, which is has been their MO a lot, good season followed by a mediocre season.  

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On June 11, 2018 at 5:11 PM, NUinID said:

 

That schedule is almost as tough as Nebraska's this year.  They are assuming a lot if they find 8 wins.  They are saying Iowa and Nebraska are wins for them, which I don't  think is any kind of a foregone conclusion.  They needed OT against a 4 win Nebraska team, and they should have lost the game if they just play it safe and kick a FG.  Thorson is coming off ACL injury they don't have the RB.  There defense should be ok but lots of ifs.  I could see a 5-6 win season, which is has been their MO a lot, good season followed by a mediocre season.  

 

I think their schedule may be tougher simply because of the order. They do have Rutgers instead of Ohio St, but have Notre Dame to offset that. So their conference schedule is easier, but Rutgers sits in a dangerous spot on their schedule.

 

That start is tough for them with Thorson's availability being an unknown. Purdue and Duke are two toss up games for them, then they have a brutal mid stretch. Nebraska's OOC ramps up nicely, and the tough conference games don't stack, having very winnable games between the testers. Northwestern has a stretch of Michigan/MSU/Nebraska/Rutgers/Wisconsin/Notre Dame/Iowa, all following a very early bye. If Nebraska is playing well, that's really rough. I just think a lot of times in predictions too much is made of calculating each games odds and not enough on overall composition.

 

To me, it has all the makings of a mediocre season with the possibility of disaster if those first two games are losses. 

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21 minutes ago, Saunders said:

Added CollegeFootballNews preview.

 

That is one inconsistent preview. Page 4/5 alternate between saying 'bowling may be difficult' and 'both sides of the ball are good enough to win 6 games without a problem'. :confucius

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On ‎6‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 7:14 PM, Redux said:

They go 5-7, we hang 48 on them.  Next.

 

I'd say the bolded is about right.  A Pat Fitzgerald coached team typically falls on their face the season after winning 10 games. 

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37 minutes ago, junior4949 said:

 

A Pat Fitzgerald coached team typically falls on their face the season after winning 10 games. 

 

I completely disagree with that statement. For that statement to be true, it assumes a drop in performance from the 10 win season to the next. 

 

The last time Northwestern won 10 games, in 2015, they averaged less than 20 points per game and had a 0.0 yards per play differential. The time before that was a 0.1 yards per play differential. Neither of these years were 10 win teams, by performance. Their 2015 team was +3 games above expectation by pythagorean win expectation, so their 7 win season the year following was really just more indicative of how many they should have been expected to win.

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In 2012, Northwestern won 10 games.  In 2013, Northwestern went 5-7 and went 1-7 in the B1G.  I have never understood why so many people think Pat Fitzgerald is even a good coach.  He has a losing record when playing B1G teams.  He's really never even come close to winning a conference title.  I'm sure Northwestern isn't the easiest place to win, but Gary Barnett did it.  He actually won the B1G while at Northwestern.  The guy before Fitzgerald even tied for a conference title.  In his tenure at Northwestern, Fitzgerald is averaging winning just under 7 games a season.  At times, he wins a couple more than his average.  At others, he wins a couple less than his average.  He's been there long enough to see a trend.  When he has one of those decent seasons, he always follows it up by gravitating back to has average 7 win seasons. 

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14 hours ago, junior4949 said:

When he has one of those decent seasons, he always follows it up by gravitating back to has average 7 win seasons. 

 

 

But you echoed the sentiment that he'd have a 5 win season this year

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On Tuesday, during his weekly press conference, the Northwestern head coach was asked about how he feels about RPO’s (run-pass options) and whether he believes it’s benefitting the game. He didn’t hold back in his response, saying “RPO’s are the purest form of communism.”

 

“RPO is the purest form of communism,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t understand how offensive linemen can be downfield.”

 

“If you’re an uncovered lineman and you go 2.3 yards downfield it’s not a penalty but if you go three it is. Nobody can see it until after the ball is thrown. It’s the rules…it’s the most in vogue change, I think, in football. If you’re a purest of football, it’s not the game. It’s not.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, GSG said:

 

 

I watched this press conference today over lunch.  Pat Fitzgerald is a defensive guy, he won the Butkus award as the nations best linebacker, of coarse he hates anything that gives the offense an advantage.  He is also a very good listen.  I don't know if he is trying to be funny, but he says a lot of humerus stuff during his PC's.  

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I don't have any idea what this has to do with communism, but I agree with the lineman point. There are two rules regarding linemen that get abused to no end and that is lining up in the backfield and linemen being too far downfield. Neither is hard to call, they just consistently don't. 

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I don't think he's using the word communism properly.  You'd think a guy with a Northwestern education could use the word, communism, in a sentence properly.

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I do think it's one rule that should probably be more closely enforced that it is.

 

Probably holding and offensive pass interference as well.

 

But it's not like it's only available to certain teams.  If it's that much of an advantage, a good coach should probably be using it to his advantage.

 

It's like complaining that they never should have put in the three-point line because the Golden State Warriors are too good at it.

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Pat Fitzgerald is a giant whining weiner.  Wish I got in on that 6pt underdog line, we will destroy that dunse and his wonky squad.

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The last 2 games NW played, they lost to Michigan 20-17 and beat MSU 29-20 on the road.  They were double digit underdogs in both games.  

 

Are they a pretty good team or pesky? Just an example of why I think they are so hard to figure out. 

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On 6/11/2018 at 8:14 PM, Redux said:

They go 5-7, we hang 48 on them.  Next.

 

Come at me bro

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Just a few interesting observations in looking at Northwestern's stats so far this year.

 

  • Their QB has NEGATIVE 75 rushing yards. He's also thrown as many interceptions as TDs (6).
  • Their Rush/Pass mix is 164/227, with 10 rushing TDs. Their main RB, Larkin, has 5 TDs and a 4.8 yd/carry ave.
  • Their K has no FG attempts under 30 yds and is 2/5 over 30.
  • Northwestern is currently 26th in Turnover Margin (NU is tied for 106th).
  • Fewest Penalty Yds/Game: Northwestern is #49 (NU is #99).

 

 

 

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If we don't clean up our team on either side, can we beat anyone in the Big 10?  Watched alot of football this last weekend.  Big 12, SEC, Big 10, and Pac 12.  My biggest take away from this weekend was that Big 10 football teams generally don't make too many mistakes.  Steady football and ground and pound rules out for the most part.  Even OSU, with all of its speed, beats you with power football.

 

So far we make more mistakes than most of any team I watched play all weekend long.  Kansas, which really sucks, doesn't make as many boneheaded plays as we do and they are near the bottom in any football rankings.  Until we clean things up, I don't know how we fair against Big 10 teams right now.

 

Pat Fitzgerald coached team usually will not beat themselves, and that means that we will have to go out and play a cleaner game to have a chance with our defense.

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It dropped when they realized it will be a home game for Nebraska, at Memorial Stadium East.  Sea of red.

On ‎10‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 12:15 PM, Mavric said:

 

 

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