Northwestern Wildcats (3-6, 2-4 B1G) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2)
Saturday, November 15, 2:30 pm CST
How’s that saying go again? Uglier than the east end of a
westbound horse? That about sums up last week’s game against
Michigan, and certainly the special teams and offensive line play of
After a disaster in Iowa two weeks back, the ‘Cats returned to Evanston
to take on Michigan in a game where NU had a chance to eradicate from
their memories the previous 90 minutes of football they had played,
which resulted in 7 points. Deadspin even got in on
the action, producing a story during
the game that read,
“Northwestern And Michigan Are Playing One Of The Worst Games
Ever.” And they were spot on, even specifically mentioning that,
“Northwestern had a punt on 4th-and-24 that failed to make it to the
first down marker.” Lovely.
It's ugly all right, and it goes to show how important the offensive
line is. NU's effort and maybe capability and/or talent up front
is just not there, and it showed big time against the Wolverines.
NU could neither run nor pass, with Justin Jackson being held to 35
yards on 17 carries, and the Michigan defensive line being all over
Trevor Siemian like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat.
Fortunately, the Wildcat defense came to play, and did a decent job in
holding Michigan at bay for most of the game, and off the scoreboard
completely until midway through the third quarter. Even then, it
took a muffed punt by NU to give Michigan incredible field position to
get on the scoreboard. There have only been three games in all of
FBS college football this season that were scoreless at halftime.
Two of them were played at Ryan Field, as NU and Northern Illinois were
also deadlocked at zero at the break back in September.
NU managed to make a big play as Ibraheim Campbell picked off Devin
Gardner and returned it to the Michigan 15 yard line. The way
things were going, he would have needed to take it to the house.
That drive resulted in no points, with the 'Cats moving 23 yards in the
wrong direction and out of field goal range. It finally clicked
for NU late in the fourth, as they moved on scoring drives of 95 yards,
resulting in a field goal, and 74 yards, resulting in a TD.
To quote former Jet coach Herm Edwards: “You PLAY to WIN the
Game!” I had no problem with Fitz going for two following the TD
with three seconds remaining. I did have a problem with the play
that caused us to have to go for two in the first place, as well as the
blocking scheme. Note: If you want to roll right, it’s kind
of important to block the left defensive end, else your QB will
crap himself and trip over the hash mark, ending the game.
Could they have kicked the extra point and try to win in OT?
Sure, but I like the thought of being aggressive, even though you can
make the argument that going for two implies Fitz didn't have
confidence in his squad to win it in extra time.
Off to South Bend this week, where the Fighting Irish await.
Notre Dame had been humming along, making their way up the rankings
after their best game, a loss to Florida State, had them on the
doorstep of the four-team playoff. That came to a crashing halt
in the desert against Arizona State. The Irish fell behind early,
due to their propensity for turning the ball over. After being
down 34-3 with a minute to go in the first half, ND went on a run, and
cut the deficit to a field goal halfway through the 4th quarter.
The luck of the Irish and ND's playoff hopes ended there, as the Sun
Devils put up 21 points in the final 5 minutes to pull away, a pick-six
Not sure what to expect this weekend. Will the Irish be out for
blood after having their season all but ruined last week, or will
apathy have set in? We know the Irish tend to play to the level
of their competition as times, especially at home, and tend to be
careless with the ball from time to time too. Don't look at the
ND-North Carolina game as a barometer, 'Cat fans. No, the Tar
Heels are not a great team, but they have the ability to make plays and
score points, something NU can't seem to do. Everett Golson is
too good of a quarterback, and the athleticism of the Irish defense is
likely too much for the 'Cats to handle.
The weather may play into the ‘Cats favor in this one, as the speed of
the Irish could be neutralized in the cold and wind. And maybe a
turnover or two will give the 'Cats a short field and allow them to
take advantage and get on the board. One thing's for sure:
forget the nostalgia. This ain't 1995. If the 'Cats win,
carry Fitz off the field.
In the land of Touchdown Jesus, I’m a
Doubting Thomas. Take the Irish and lay the points. Notre
Dame 28, Northwestern 10
P.S. Rudy was offside.
Season to Date: 3-6 Straight Up, 2-7 ATS