The Great, The Good & The Disappointing Plus Highlights (Including Brian & Jack on BTN!)

Colter hangs on vs MN 2011

 

THE GREAT

Brian Peters (with an assist from Jack?)

BTN’s moving feature  that brings to light the amazing connection between Jack Marshall and Brian Peters is back up above in all its glorious high-quality online presence. I had the pleasure of connecting with both families after the game and their respective phones were lighting up like Christmas trees from folks around the country. Dave Revsine’s intro read like an LTP post intro reminding fans amid all of the icky things going on in college sports right now, there is a ton of good being done. This serves as exhibit “A”. I forgot to mention that Jack had predicted a Brian Peters pick on a deflection (no joke, his mom told me yesterday) because of the club hand. Let’s get on to the game.

Brian was unreal. He had 11 tackles, a forced fumble and recovery, a sack and the game turning interception off the Jack-called deflection. That’s the good news. The bad news is that our safety was having to be the last line of defense on a day when the D-line got torched by Minnesota’s O-line up the middle. More on that later. Great game Brian!

 

VENRIC MARK

Mark provided the spark plug factor we needed out of the gates with a pair of “THAT CLOSE” near returns to the house on kickoffs. Both of his explosive returns set us up with great field position which we promptly converted in to TD drives.  He tiptoed along the sideline and his momentum caused him to step out of bounds on what was sure to be an opening return for a TD. Great job Venric, that spark was exactly what we needed.

The ’96 Team Getting Honored- How great was it to see Gary Barnett and what little crowd was there, gave an enthusiastic ovation and rightfully so. We’ll go more on the ’96 team this week which had several key players, including Darnell Autry, as no-shows.  It would’ve been nice for the PA announcer to at least acknowledge Fitz, who was busy coaching the team at halftime. By the way Gary, we need to get you some purple to wear! Barnett was lobbying today on Fitz’s behalf to Teddy Greenstein regarding the push for on-campus facilities. This will get quite a bit of attention in the coming days. Check it out HERE.

Red Zone Short Yardage Plays – Considering when it is within five yards of the goal line you know Northwestern is going with the long side option pitch. The fact we seem to convert it for 6 nearly every time is a testament to execution. It doesn’t matter if it is Penn State, Michigan or Minnesota, we convert it. I keep expecting defenses to figure it out, but Treyvon Green and Jacob Schmidt both put up TDs on this identical play once again today.

Brandon Williams’ 77-yard punt – Yes, it was incredibly aided by the wind, but it’s rare you get to see that kind of a punt. Considering Minnesota’s punter shanked a pair with the wind at his back, it shows it isn’t that easy to take advantage of it. Kind of funny as I saw Paul Burton, the punter from the ’95/’96 team, and instantly think of that, what was it, 80 yard punt vs Indiana in ’95? It’s like word association. Williams had three punts on the day (47,51) for a 58.3 ypp average.

THE GOOD

Dan Persa – A ridiculous wind was in his face half the game. Receivers dropped pass after pass. He had pressure all day. Yet, on a day when he wasn’t his best, Persa did what it took to win racking up 212 yds on 22/31 with 2 TDs and 1 INT. His crucial first down pass on 3rd and long to start the fourth quarter to Rashad Lawrence deep in our own territory exemplified how clutch he can be. He even had us all holding our breath on a couple of releases that he took whallops he was slow to get up from. Persa Strong was in full effect.

Jordan Mabin – The senior CB had a huge break-up of a game-changing TD and held the Gophers primary lethal receiver, Da’Jon McKnight to 59 receiving yards on two catches. 

Jacob Schmidt – His stat line won’t cause anyone to do a double-take, but Jacob’s 69 yards (13 carries) were the definition of clutch. When we desperately needed to get first downs, there was Jacob late in the game grinding out money carries to move the chains. Mick McCall did him little favor predictably running the same play on first down of every drive (Minnesota caught on quickly).

Fitz’s Go-For-It Attitude – Perhaps it was weather-induced, but the general attitude of being more aggressive late in the game gets my two thumbs up. NU was 3-4 on 4th downs including a beautiful TD pass from Persa to Fields in a stiff wind.

Bend But Don’t Break “D” – It’s hard to argue with 13 points on the day given up by the defense, but man, did we get gouged up the gut on the rush by MarQueis Gray and Duane Bennett. Gray torched us for 147 yds on 26 carries and that includes at least three plays where we had a hand on a jersey for a TFL that turned in to a 10+ yarder. Minnesota owned us on the line of scrimmage and thanks to Bennett’s 127 yard day we gave up an eyesore of 269yds rushing on 51 carries (5.1 ypc) which will make Sparty salivate.

THE DISAPPOINTING

CROWD – We’re going from bad to worse, gang. For mid/late November this is as good as it gets for weather and yet, a paltry 26,215 for a Big Ten game. A bowl-clinching game, no less? Really? The game was admittedly flat, but the crowd was worse. I just don’t get it. After all the build-up of the ticket base it appears we lost a lot of fans despite the now 4-game winning streak. If this gets pointed out as the reason we don’t get picked for a bowl or worse, get jumped by a team that isn’t as good, we share this blame (with the NU team for losing to Army). Step up, fire up and let’s get some purple to pay tribute to the senior class that will go down as the group with the most wins in the history of the program.

Offensive Flow – After the first quarter, we had none. I haven’t gone back and checked the stat line yet, but man, did we rush on EVERY first down in the second half? All day long it was 2nd and 8 and we were playing against the averages all day. I felt we were pretty predictable on offense on a day when an opponent finally figured out how to double team/bracket Jeremy Ebert (only 62 yds receiving (6 rec)). 

Not Taking The FG on Final Drive – I’m usually the biggest proponent of going for it, but not when you’re up two scores with two minutes and, even with a nasty wind, have a relatively good shot at putting the game away with a 3-score lead (we were up 15). 

Pass Defense – Thank God MarQueis didn’t throw more and better yet, that the Gopher receivers bailed us out. Minnesota dropped several WIDE OPEN passes including a pair that would’ve been TDs had they simply caught the ball. MarQueis’ running at will tilted the playcalling as he looked pretty good tossing it today. The 9/21 124 yds passing don’t give the day justice.

STATS TO STEW ON

  • Total Yards – Northwestern: 368 Minnesota 398
  • First Downs – Northwestern: 23 Minnesota: 22
  • Rushing Yards – Northwestern: 152 Minnesota: 269
  • Passing Yards – Northwestern: 216 Minnesota: 124
  • Penalties – Northwestern: 0 Minnesota: 5
  • Third Down Conversions – Northwestern 8/16 Minnesota:7/15
  • TOP – Northwestern: 28:26 Minnesota:31:34

Here’s the Tribune recap of the game. CLICK HERE.

  • knickelbein5

    The way I see the bowl scenario shaking out. Assuming we win next week, we are competing with Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio State for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. Next week Illinois plays @Minnesota, Iowa plays @Nebraska, and Ohio State plays @Michigan. I would argue that none of those teams are going to win next week, leaving NU with a huge opportunity to finish 7-5, ahead of 6-6 Illinois and 6-6 Ohio State, and tied with 7-5 Iowa. At that point, I would say that given our momentum (riding a 5 game win streak), we would get a bid to the Car Care bowl. Obviously, that is all for naught if we don’t beat MSU next week.

    • wildcat6

      Agree. The only problem with your scenario is that Iowa travels as well if not better than any team in the B1G. Obviously, that doesn’t trump everything in Bowl Committees’ eyes, since we leapfrogged Wisky in 2009, but I would have a hard time seeing us being picked before the Hawkeyes this year, especially since they beat us.

      • CIBERCAT

        ARMY = (OUCH X 1000)

  • vaudvillain

    For the most part, I agree with the “go for it” attitude. The one place that I disagree was our last meaningful possession, when we had a 4th down in the red zone, up 15. That was a chip shot FG. 15 is only two scores (with a 2-point conversion), but 18 is three scores. There wasn’t a ton of time on the clock (something like a minute and a half, I think)…it was highly unlikely that Minnesota could have pulled off two quick scores with the required onside kick between, but crazier things have happened. Converting three scores was well nigh impossible. It all worked out, but I definitely questioned the call at the time.

    • Lake The Posts

      100% agree. Take the points there. The thinking of a risky blocked kick for 6 the other way is outweighed by sealing the game by making it a 3-score game. I was yelling for the FG and I’m usually a go for it kind of guy.

    • Richard

      I thought going for it was the right call. You win the game right there with a first down (and virtually win it with a TD). The problem with a FG is not just the possibility of a block, but the ensuing kickoff could be returned as well. No need to take those risks. A 15 point lead means Minny not only needs to score 2 touchdowns, but also a successful 2-point conversion just to tie and then win it in overtime. Assuming the probability of those 2 occurring are roughly half each, you’re talking about .25 * probability of 2 TDs & a successful onside kick vs. probability of 3 TDs & 2 successful onside kicks. Look at it that way, and I think you’ll see that going for it was a higher percentage play.

      • Jimgocats93

        I was torn about which way to go.

        1st down = win
        TD = win
        FG = win
        Fail on 4th = great field position
        Missed FG = 20 yard line
        Blocked FG = ???

        I guess with the D not giving up the big play all day they made a good choice, but I wanted the field goal with the ball almost dead center (I think).
        That’s why they pay the coaches.

        Gocatsgo!

      • vaudvillain

        Richard and Jim make good points here. I was thinking of a FG from that distance as automatic — but we all know that nothing is automatic in college football. I still lean toward kicking it to go up three scores, but I can see it wasn’t quite the no-brainer I felt like it was from the stands. Kickoff returns and blocked kicks can be extremely dangerous.

  • wildcat6

    How about Brandon Williams for “Great?” 77-yard punt!

    • Steve

      Agreed!

      • Lake The Posts

        OK, OK…

  • David

    It is all good. This team played a less than perfect game but still won by 15. The coaches have plenty to coach the players about. No one will go into this week with too big of a head. Should be a great week of practice.

    • vaudvillain

      Absolutely agreed. Let’s have a great week of practice and beat the Spartans (if anyone comes into this game with a big head, it will be them, now that they’ve clinched the Legends).

  • zeek

    Crowd is disappointing because of the 2-5 start. Even the 3 game winning streak we brought today and the Nebraska upset weren’t enough to really juice it. Not to mention, another bad opponent didn’t help.

    Only way to not deflate attendance is to not have 5 game losing streaks in the middle of the season…

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      The big thing to worry about next week is what the Thanksgiving holiday will do. I don’t believe there has been a Thanksgiving weekend home game in quite some time (definitely not while I was there, and I graduated in 2010). There are going to be a lot of students who head home and will miss this game next Saturday. We are going to need everyone to be extra loud to make up for their depleted numbers.

      • zeek

        Very good point, especially if Michigan State fans travel (assuming they aren’t all just waiting for Indy to spend their $).

        We need as much of the crowd to be loud and on our side as possible. Especially to get win #7.

      • JM

        Very valid concern. NU’s fanbase tends to be less “local” than other schools. Most students aren’t from Illinois, and even a lot of the alums who settle here come from elsewhere and travel to visit families over the holiday.

        Reason #1,999,999 that this year’s schedule sucked.

        • kinsella316

          I’m willing to bet that there are more MSU fans that have to travel to games in East Lansing then there are that have to travel to games in Evanston. I’m expecting a hell of a lot of green this weekend.

          Also, agree with those that said “don’t love 5 in a row” and fans won’t bail. Our fanbase is too fickle (some may say discerning…) as it is that the non-diehards will easily stay home if it’s not a great team on a great day. Also, and I’ve said this before, no one wants to sit in the south end zone. Those seats are absolutely terrible.

    • David Waymire

      Those 11 a.m. starts are pretty tough, too. I was in town and decided to hop the el from downtown…left at 9 a.m., got there in time to procure tickets at the 40 on the band side, get a hat and sit down. Attendance was very disappointing, though, I’ve got to say.

  • wcgrad

    I’ll repost here: Mabin was great today. While Minn found some holes in our run game, they were never a threat for the big play. Mabin did a great job shutting down Da’Jon McKnight. He also had a great play to prevent a TD at the 4min mark of the highlights. If Minn scores at TD there its a different game. I think that’s even more important than Peters’ interception — not to take anything away from him, it was great — but I’m pretty sure McKnight only caught a pass when working against a safety.

    • Lake The Posts

      great point…I keep waiting for Mabin to get flagged as he’s ditched turning to play the ball. He made a great PBU on that as I thought it was caught at first.

      • wcgrad

        Fair enough, the face-guarding seems to be a coaching point though, because I’ve noticed Matthews doing the same thing (and he did get flagged but it was caught). Mabin seems to have the timing right (or really quick reflexes) to put the ball away. To win next week, we need him to be a stud again in man coverage.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      I said this in the other post, but I will repeat it here…

      Mabin has played so well (or maybe Matthews has played so bad… I am going to go with Mabin being good) that teams pretty much don’t throw to his side of the field. He does not have the stats, but he has been fantastic for the most part this year. Today’s effort was another great one for Mabin.

  • skepticat

    Gotta agree with vaudvillain about not taking the chip-shot field goal at the end of the game.

    I’m ashamed to admit I missed the opening kickoff. But can anyone explain how it is Minnesota got both the ball after halftime and the wind in the 4th quarter? That really left me scratching my head.

    And this drives me absolutely, positively insane. Yet again, for about the 5th or 6th time over the last 2-3 years, our offense is lined up, the ball is whistled in play, and we stand there and let the other team not only change out personnel, but get organized and set. What on earth is the point of running a no-huddle offense if, just once, you can’t take advantage of an unprepared, out-of-position defense?

    Anyway, I don’t mean be so negative after breaking the .500 mark and getting bowl eligible, but it was a pretty hapless Minnesota team, after all. Not really much else to say. :) Big game next week — biggest of the season, IMHO. Let’s see if Fitz can finally get the MSU monkey off his back. Given all the chaos happening in the top of the polls these last few weeks, anything’s possible!

    • skepticat

      I see, on my 2nd reading, that LTP also called out not taking the FG. Was distracted my first time watching the Ducks lay an egg (get it?! get it?!) against USC.

      Gotta say you nailed the Good/Bad/Disappointing this week, LTP. Huge endzone interception by Peters was the play-of-the-game, IMO.

    • Ron

      The wind: Minnesota won toss, deferred. Cats received first kickoff, Minn took wind. Second half, Minnesota received, Cats took wind. In 4th Quarter, Minnesota got the wind.

      And I must say, having that gale at his back played havoc with Persa’s game.

      • skepticat

        My understanding is that, if you win the toss, you get to choose either whether or not you want the ball, or which direction to go. The other team gets to choose for the option you don’t pick.

        Assuming that’s correct, that means Minnesota won the toss and chose to defer, and we chose to go north and give Minnesota the wind in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Since it seems like having the wind can rather dramatically help with the kicking game, it looks like we basically gave Minnesota a 2-for-1 deal there.

  • wildcat6

    With #2 Oklahoma St., #4 Oregon, #5 Oklahoma, and potentially #9 Stanford (ahead of Cal 14-13 at half) going down this week, not to mention #7 Clemson getting blown out vs NC State, that has to have an impact on the B1G getting a BCS at-large berth, and moving everyone up one slot on the bowl ladder. Michigan’s decisive win vs Nebraska makes them an attractive Sugar Bowl candidate at 9-2, but they have to beat OSU next weekend. What a weekend in college football!

    • Richard

      If Michigan beats tOSU, they pretty much have a BCs bid in their pocket, due to the pruning of other viable candidates. Likely the Sugar Bowl as the title game will almost certainly be an all-SEC affair now, so the Sugar gets the first 2 at-large picks.

  • Wiser

    Next week is the real test of the whole season. Can we put everything together that we’ve gained in the last 3 weekends? I still fear facing a team that has a balanced offensive game (Nebraska’s pass game was pretty lousy as martinez could barely throw it past about 15 yards, and Rice and Minnesota belonged in high school the way they threw and caught). Not impressed with defense today, and offense was not in sync either. Will need to be clicking against a good MS team next week or else we’re in for it. Today was just a boring game at Ryan Field–crowd was again quite pathetic, and always felt comfortable that we would win (a wonderful feeling to have as a longtime cat fan). We’ll see what this team has next week.

  • Narcissus Smith

    Fitz’s soundbite from the presser makes him look like a smug asshole.

    Since we have one (1) quality win this year, I think “smug asshole” is probably the wrong tack to take. An acknowledgement that poor coaching squandered half this season and a show of humility would have been more appropriate.

    • Narcissus Smith

      Forgot to add a specific reason smugness + Fitz doesn’t compute: not taking the 3 points was just plain inexcusable. A good coach doesn’t make mess that up.

      • cece

        isn’t Fitz from the school of not going for it just to make a point? the game was not in doubt.

        which makes him not a smug asshole. like the Wisc. coach, from whom Fitz seems to learn how not to act.

        clearly Fitz is frustrated, maybe with the media, but I think his comments, only shown on the ABC affiliate that I saw, could be interpreted as frustration with the fans. how in the world could the crowd be worse than the Rice crowd? what is the return on investment for all the “Chicago’s Big Ten team” adverts? talk about smug….

        • joe bloe

          “… like the Wisc. coach, from whom Fitz seems to learn how not to act.”

          How true.

      • Richard

        As I explained above, a first down wins the game. Go for the FG, and there’s a chance (however slight of either a blocked kick or big return on the ensuing kickoff. Also, with a 15 point lead, Minny needs not only 2 TDs + a successful onside kick, but also a successful 2-point conversion and then win it in overtime. If the chances of both are roughly half each, 0.25 * probability of 2 TDs & a successful onside kick is close to the probability of 3 TDs & 2 successful onside kicks. Anyway, they’re both virtually 0 probability. There were far more critical points in the game than that decision.

        • vaudvillain

          I mentioned this above, but you may be right, Richard. At the very least, it’s not as simple of a decision as I first thought. After all, we know that “taking the points” is not necessarily an automatic thing. I still would’ve breathed easier up 18…but I would’ve breathed a lot worse if the kick were blocked for a long runback or score.

        • Narcissus Smith

          My main issue is with his comments, not with the decision to go for it. The point is his wrong decision not to kick the field goal is just the latest evidence that he’s not a good coach, therefore his smug attitude is incongruous. Richard, I’m aware of how scoring works in college football. A field goal there wins the game, not the first down.

          You beat a crappy team to become bowl eligible, and now you expect the media and critical fans to apologize for doubting you? Shut the f*ck up. Criticizing an underachieving team is what true fans do, but Fitz wants us just to praise his greatness while the season was going down the drain?

          I want the players to succeed and I’m very happy for this winning streak. They were poorly served by their coaches this year though, and Fitz’s comments indicate that he’s petty and deluded.

          • vaudvillain

            I said this on the last thread, but I had no problem with Fitz’ statements at all. I heard them (tone of voice is important) — sure sounded to me like he was being playful and having fun with the press, not deliberately antagonizing them. And I didn’t take anything at all as a knock on the fans.

            The point about the field goal (and I’ve come around from my original position on this) is that it wasn’t a clear-cut decision. Richard is correct – a first down in the scenario does win, because all we have to do is kneel down and the clock runs out. We can certainly debate what we would’ve done, and not all of us agree — but I cannot say that Fitz’ decision was wrong.

          • byebyefitz95

            Fitz has no greatness as a coach. Let’s be honest, this season is a bust. Who did we beat to get bowl eligible? Nebraska is the only team worth mentioning. We beat BC, EIU, IU, Minny, Rice. Wow, there are a lot of teams to beat them. I hope he goes to PSU.

  • David

    Hawaii just lost to Fresno St. Hawaii needs to get to 7 wins…they are sitting at 5 with games against New Mexico State and BYU. They also do not have their starting QB.

    • http://LakeTheposts DT

      If you are going to be tracking Hawaii and hoping they lose, Kawika- get the damn schedule right… They don’t play NMSU, they play Tulane… They should win that game… Further, do you really want to fly to Hawaii for that bowl game?

      • David

        You are right. I got my future opponents crossed up. But Hawaii will probably lose to BYU. 6 wins will not get them in. My main concern is that NU gets a bowl…regardless of location.

  • Richard

    Skepticat,

    That’s actually not how it works. Take a look under the “coin toss” section:
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football_rules.

  • Alaskawildcat

    Having no penalties certainly qualifies for “The Great.” Has that ever been done before by the Cats in recent memory?

  • CatsUnderStars

    I don’t know if anyone else said this, but if you bet on the ‘Cats, you were screaming for the FG at the end. . . .

    • vaudvillain

      I’m not a betting man, but I’m pretty sure that since 95, if you just took the points in every game NU played, you would come out ahead. We do well as underdogs, and only seldom seem to cover the spread as favorites. Of course, losing by a half point in this scenario would be especially painful.

  • Just the Facts

    I think the attendance will be better next weekend given the reported ticket sales to date, as well as the fact that MSU is a better draw than Minnesota or Rice. My guess would be 35-40k depending on the weather. Hopefully there will be enough students around to fill the student section.

    I probably would have kicked the FG at the end of the game but I didn’t think going for it was a bad decision. If you go for it, even if Minnesota stops you (as it did), it must drive down the field and score, convert the 2 pt try, recover the onside, drive down and score again, all with only 1:10 left and no timeouts. Of course, even a missed FG would leave you in about the same spot. Fitz probably thought the only risk of a quick score would be a blocked FG returned for a score, or a kickoff into a stiff wind leading to a return TD (or at least a much shorter field). Of course, if the FG is made, it is a three possession game and I don’t see that happening in 1:10.

    Once again, my biggest complaint is that the secondary does not look for the ball in coverage. I agree you should not look when you are within 15 yards of the LOS, but once you are way down the field, taking a peek doesn’t hurt. There were several underthrown balls that were easy INTs if only the cover man looks. This was particularly true on a day like yesterday when Minnesota was throwing into the wind. If the receiver already has a step on you, a ball that is thrown in stride will be caught anyway (and the WR is probably gone for the TD absent other help). An overthrow it doesn’t matter anyway. But if it is underthrown, looking back helps. Most college QBs are not accurate enough to make looking back more risky than not looking back.

  • Just the Facts

    I forgot to mention how impressive I think the run blocking has been the past few weeks. Even in obvious running situations, the Cats are getting a least a couple of yards a run. Schmidt has really fought for the extra yardage. He may not have dazzling speed or moves, but the effort is always there, and he is the kind of guy you know will get you a yard when you need it.

    Also, I really like what I see from Green. He is patient and identifies where the hole will be. At that point, he kicks it into gear through the hole. Most guys either do the “Anthony Thomas shuffle” (Bears edition) where the RB dances too long in the backfield and then gets stuffed or the “Cedric Benson I don’t need a hole” (once again, and sadly, Bears edition) where you don’t read the hole and simply run straight into the defenders and get stuffed. He was involved in the fumble, but I don’t know whether that was on him or Colter (or both) as the QB is reading whether to take the ball back.

  • Just the Facts

    …and now hopefully for the last thing I will think of before hitting the “Post Comment” button: I thought the big difference in the game was special teams. Both teams had similar yardage totals on offense, and the turnovers were even. However, Mark had two long KO returns giving the Cats a short field, and the Cats probably had over 100 yards advantage in punting.

  • cibercat

    always want the wind in your back for obvious reasons in 2nd and 4th qtr..1/start of games are more conservative and teams are feeling each other out…less passing needed.. 2/if behind….you can pass easier and kick longer fg’s if needed..3/more difficult for the other team if coming back against you..limits the options……………..no brainer there ?

  • zeek

    I feel better about the Michigan State game than I do about most of our “tough” games this season. Better than I felt going into Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska for sure.

    We have a reasonable chance of catching Sparty overlooking us in a final home game. Their fans may not really even travel that well if they’re all booking Indy reservations (of course, that won’t help us for bowls but that’s another matter entirely).

    I think both teams will score in the 20s, and it’ll come down to the wire. Our series with Sparty has been our craziest over the past couple of years, so anything can and will happen. This seems like the perfect time though for us to exorcise some of our Sparty demons and get a second signature win to close out the season.

  • Mark

    Interesting that IU football, which has been in the “dark ages” for years (either since Mallory’s firing in the 90′s or 1967), draws 40,000+ for their games. Seems like their marketing strategy works better than NU’s. I wonder whether the marketing folks at NU now believe that the Wrigley game made a lasting impact on season and regular season ticket sales? I know there are lots of IU grads in the state but I still don’t understand NU’s inability to draw non–NU alum in the 3rd largest city/metro area in the U.S.

    • VAWildcat

      I don’t think it makes much sense to compare NU to IU, i.e., a huge state school in a state (and sports market) without much else going on, particularly when ND and PU are also down. (And if you love IU, you probably hate ND and PU.) I went to grad school at IU and the hordes of alums just show up to party; the football team is kind of an afterthought.

    • zeek

      What marketing strategy?

      They’re a state school with a couple hundred thousand alumni living within 100-200 miles. They have 32k undergraduates.

      We’re a private school with only a few ten thousand alumni in the region. We have 8k undergraduates.

      We’re ranked 10th in the Big Ten in terms of alumni presence in Chicago.

      We need to win, win consistently, and win big in order to maintain crowds of 40k+ since most of that 40k+ will be non-alumni with only 4-5k students at most.

      Indiana can draw 40k just relying on alumni and students.

      You can apply the same argument to Minnesota.

      • Mark

        Agree generally with both your arguments about the alumni base, but IU was not drawing 40,000 a few years ago.

        The issue is what a successful marketing strategy would be to draw in college football fans in the Chicago metro area who are not NU alums. The Wrigley game drew big numbers because it was a novelty item and, at least from my observations, because people could drink alcohol at the game. I think it also drew alums who don’t otherwise show up and also people who just wanted to say they’d been there. But I know there are lots of college football fans in the Chicago area who aren’t alums of any Big 10 school.

  • http://www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

    As I understand it, we should be rooting for Michigan to beat Ohio State in order to get a 2nd BCS bid for the Big Ten, Wisconsin to beat Penn State to hopefully allow Penn State to be passed over by several bowls, and Iowa to beat Nebraska on the road.

    Because of Penn State’s win yesterday, there is a 2 game difference between Penn State and Iowa. The Gator Bowl cannot select a team with 2 fewer wins while the Insight and the lowest 3 bowls have no such restrictions. That means the Insight, which selects ahead of the Gator Bowl this year, can select Ohio State, even if they finish 6-6. The Buckeyes have never been down there and I can’t imagine the Insight Bowl would pass on a chance they might not get again. If Iowa wins and Penn State loses, then the Gator Bowl would most likely take Iowa, dropping Penn State to Houston. If Meineke doesn’t want Penn State, they can opt for a 7-5 or 6-6 Northwestern and send Penn State to the TicketCity Bowl, who already said they would take Penn State. Illinois was in Houston last year and there is zero excitement around that program, so I think it’s safe to say that we’d be selected over Illinois in that situation, especially with our alumni base down there. Same if it was between a 6-6 NU and 6-6 Purdue.

    • zeek

      We’re not going to pass Iowa or Penn State this year. Penn State already has 9 wins, and it’s hard to see us overcoming Iowa’s traveling reputation even if we’re both 7-5.

      But, the Michigan-Ohio State point is very important.

      Michigan winning and going to 10-2 is a lock for the Fiesta or Sugar Bowls given the likelihood of an all-SEC BCS championship and the likelihood of only 1 Big 12 BCS team (2 loss in a row Ok State or 3 loss Oklahoma are unlikely to be chosen over a 10-2 Michigan with 3 wins in a row).

      • http://www.northwesternhighlights.com Northwestern Highlights

        We’re not going to be selected ahead of Iowa, but several bowls have already expressed their concern about taking Penn State. They have to answer to their sponsors and several sponsors already pulled ads from ESPN during Penn State games. It’s quite possible companies will lose their concerns by bowl selection Sunday, but there is also a very real possibility that Penn State could fall to the TicketCity Bowl. In order for that to happen, though, Iowa has to beat Nebraska to stay within a game of Penn State, assuming Penn State loses to Wisconsin. I don’t see Penn State being selected ahead of either Ohio State or Iowa if the Gator Bowl is not forced to take the Nittany Lions due to a 2 game difference. And if that happens, there is definitely a chance the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas would pass on Penn State, which they’d be allowed to do regardless of how many wins they have.

  • jason

    adam rittenberg just wrote that NU is bowl eligible for the fourth straight season in his “what we learned this week” post. Isn’t this the FIFTH straight season?

    • zeek

      Yes, he forgot about our 6-6 season where we didn’t get a bid. I think Iowa didn’t get a bid that year as well, but I could be wrong.

      I think he was confusing that with our effort to make this our 4th straight year bowling. Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about that after next week.

  • Robert

    Bowl talk is a moot issue at this point. At 7-5 NU is going to get a crap bowl, and with all of these BCS teams being knocked off, we have many more teams that will be picked ahead of the Cats is Sparty beats us. We go 6-6 we don’t get an invite. Too many other schools with bigger alumni, etc will be picked before NU will. Only discussion should be all about the MSU game. If we win that is two wins against quality opponents and we would deserve a bowl, if we get slaughtered we simply don’t deserve a bowl. One upset victory against Nebraska( a team that is sliding) doesn’t qualify for a bowl. Also, Fitz isn’t going to PSU. PSU is heavily courting Urban Meyer and willing to offer a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Mike Leach would be a better candidate that Fitz. Fitz’s teams have slowly gon downhill in terms of record since he has been at NU. This season is no exception. Do you think PSU is going to want a so so coach in charge to restore the roar?

  • skepticat

    @Richard,
    Thanks for the link, very helpful. But that still means something strange happened with the decision-making by NU:
    Minnesota wins the coin toss and defers. NU chooses to receive, Minnesota chooses to go South, giving them the wind in the 2nd quarter. Start of second half: Minnesota chooses to receive, NU chooses to go North, giving Minnesota the wind (again) in the 4th quarter.

    Also, if one is going to list a blocked FG as a reason to go for it, you also need to list a fumble or interception as a reason not to go for it, both of which are probably more likely than a blocked FG. And if we didn’t kick it because of the gusting wind, well right there is why having the wind at the end of the game would’ve been nice.

    Anyway, I guess it’s not really a big deal, as it didn’t really matter in this case. But I just feel like it’s little things like this that can add up against you if we were in a game where it did.

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Nebraska4000
Minnesota3100
Iowa3100
Illinois3100
Wisconsin2100
Purdue2200
Northwestern 1200

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Penn State4010
Maryland3100
Ohio State2100
Indiana2100
Michigan State2100
Michigan2200
Rutgers3101