What a strange Big Ten opener for both teams. The Northwestern Wildcats are atop the conference with the Minnesota Golden Gophers while the normal powers are licking their wounds. What is this? The 1940 college football season! Do you research kids!
Anyways, back to the present day. Let’s get right into this matchup.
OFFENSE: Northwestern has been known as a finesse, spread offense team ever since the 2000 Big Ten championship squad led by late coach Randy Walker. Apparently Pat Fitzgerald didn’t get the memo. He’s been trying to shape this team with the toughness we expected from him by having offense coordinator Mick McCall utilize more of the power run game.
Tailback Venric Mark has been a sensation so far in non conference showing toughness to run between the tackles despite the fact he is just 5’8, 175. Northwestern also has some of the best blocking wide receivers in the conference, maybe the country. They are outstanding at the point of attack.
The Indiana Hoosiers offense had so much potential coming into the season under 2nd year starter Tre Roberson. Sadly, he broke his leg in Week 2 and is done for the year. Enter sophomore Cameron Coffman. He played well last week before being yanked for true freshman Nate Sudfeld.
The third stringer put Indiana in position to win but their defense couldn’t hold yet again. I won’t be surprised if we see both quarterbacks but expect to see quite a bit of junior running back Stephen Houston. He’ll help shorten the game given the major issues on the other side of the ball.
DEFENSE: While Northwestern isn’t known for this side of the ball in recent years something seems to be changing. The Wildcats are finally starting to get pressure on the quarterback with junior defensive end Tyler Scott and sophomore linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo leading the charger. Northwestern is still very susceptible to the deep ball though with a shaky rotation of Quinn Evans and Demetrius Dugar at the “field” corner position.
Indiana’s defense continues to be a major problem although they’ve tried to fill the gaps with some solid JUCO players. Linebacker David Cooper is among them. He leads the team in tackles and has taken a defacto role as leader of that side of the ball. They’ve got similar issues to Northwestern though as they tend to give up a lot of big plays.
WHAT ELSE IS UP?: This will be somewhat of a homecoming for Indiana coach Kevin Wilson. He was the offensive coordinator for Randy Walker when the Wildcats won the Big Ten title in 2000.
PREDICTION: With the paltry slate of games on tomorrow this could be one of the most entertaining. Expect a lot of points and a lot of big plays. Northwestern though will get it done in the 4th quarter as they pull away for the win and perhaps a spot in the top 25. Wildcats 30-20.