Northeastern (I-AA) at
Saturday, Sept. 1. Time: 11:00 am CDT
radio internet coverage.
Game Preview: Northwestern vs. Northeastern
by Jonathan Hodges
season finally kicks off for Northwestern on this Saturday, September 1
at 11AM in Evanston (you'll be able to watch from home on the Big Ten
Network only if you have DirecTV), as the fans eagerly await some live
football. This game will most likely be the easiest on NU's
schedule this year, and unlike last year's I-AA (or football
championship subdivision, nowadays, but that is too long/confusing) New
Hampshire, Northeastern is not ranked and is not expected to cause many
waves. It is somewhat frightening for the 'Cats, though, since
UNH beat NU handily last year then proceeded to lose to Northeastern by
a slim margin later that season. But, since this is the first
game for Northwestern this year and virtually everyone has that UNH
loss ingrained in their minds from 2006, I would expect the Wildcats to
come out ready for action and making sure that they win that first game
on the schedule.
Line: There is no official line on the game, but the CBS Harmon Forecast has a final score prediction of NU 35 - Northeastern 6
Who Should Win:
Northwestern should win the game handily. The talent level is far
in the Wildcats' favor, although we saw what a I-AA team did to NU last
What to Look for:
Look for NU to win the line of scrimmage battle early and often.
This means NU should attempt to show its offensive line's superiority
and hand the ball to the likes of Sutton, Conteh, and Roberson quite
often - look for a ton of rushing yards. The offense may mix in
some passing, but it should not be necessary. On defense, this is
where the big surprise may be - look for NU to actually hold an
opponent scoreless. That's right, I'm going to call it right
here, Northwestern will log its first shutout in a decade (since the
Oklahoma game in 1997), although it came close twice last year: giving
up one field goal to Miami OH and two to EMU. This is
definitely the 'Cats best chance to log a shutout this year.
Northeastern's offense isn't threatening and the Wildcat defense should
be vastly improved and includes an actual threat on the line. The
game may be close at halftime (think 7-0 or 14-0, in the 'Cats favor),
but the win will come by grinding out yards on the ground, of which
many will come in the second half (including big runs if the offense is
successful in wearing out the Northeastern defense).
Opponent Player to Watch:
Mele, a linebacker transfer from Illinois, has watched the 'Cats run by
before. He will have the biggest impact on if NU will be able to
do it again.
We all know UNH beat the 'Cats pretty well last year (although that
game featured multiple NU turnovers and the "BREWFKA" offense which
basically meant inept), and Northeastern beat UNH. If
Northwestern makes a ton of mistakes, can't get an offense going, and
reverts to a typical Colby defense (yards given up by the bunches),
then Northeastern can make this challenging.
This is the first taste of on-the-field action for the 'Cats to prove
themselves in many areas: will the OL be effective (which will be
tested with the absence of Rees), can the LB corps hold up, will the
D-line finally muster a pass rush, will the special teams specialists
be any good, and can the offense click and move the ball? Also,
the coaches have a lot to prove as this year they come in with a full
year under their collective belts and experience on the field coupled
with plenty of time to get to know their new positions and the players
available to them. While the opponent shouldn't challenge NU this
game should give fans and the team a good idea of what to expect in
2007 since it is a real live game.
Injury Report: Rees
(center) - suspended/1 game, Brewer (wide receiver) - broken arm/out
for season, Smith (safety) - shoulder/day-to-day. There were some
dings during Kenosha (Sutton, Diaz, etc.) but Fitz claims everyone else
will be ready to go come September 1.
Prediction: Northwestern 31 - Northeastern 0.
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jhodges' commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of HailToPurple.com.