The Northwestern Wildcats seemed to have a victory wrapped up today against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, but some crucial mistakes down the stretch cost them a win. Northwestern grabbed a three-point lead with just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 15-yard touchdown pass by Trevor Siemian to Tony Jones.
The Wildcats then proceeded to pick off Devin Gardner on the next play, and a win looked promising. Northwestern, however, couldn’t run out the clock and then a series of bad decisions caused things to go south.
First, Northwestern was forced to punt the ball to Michigan and they delivered a terrible kick. The short kick ended up just past midfield and it at least gave the Wolverines a shot to throw a prayer downfield. A decent punt in that situation would have virtually assured a Wildcats victory.
Next, Gardner threw a 53-yard pass to Roy Roundtree, which set up a Brendan Gibbons 26-yard field goal with two seconds left, and sent the game into overtime. If you’re Northwestern in that situation you simply can’t give up anything deep. Without any timeouts for Michigan, if the Wildcats forced a short or intermediate throw over the middle, the game would have been virtually over.
Lastly, the Wildcats made a terrible play call when they were trailing by seven in the first overtime. Northwestern faced a fourth-and-2 from the Michigan 17 and lined up in a shotgun formation. The Wildcats ran a draw which almost looked like more of an option/read play. Tyris Jones was easily stuffed behind the line giving Michigan the win. On a fourth-and-short situation it seems to make little sense to attempt a slow developing play, since all the defenders will be crashing the line hard. Something quick hitting up the middle would have seemed to make more sense.
Northwestern only has themselves to blame for this loss.
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