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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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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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