The Great, The Good & More Great

CT spt_nu_illinois_16.JPG

UPDATE: TO VIEW GAME HIGHLIGHTS CLICK HERE.  The password is “LOLHat2012″ . Thanks as always to our man, Northwestern Highlights for his great work.

Wow. What a day. Northwestern football opened the day by playing their worst half of defense all season and giving scare to the Wildcat fans, but Kain Colter and Venric Mark carried NU to a 27-14 lead. Then, Northwestern played its best quarter of the season, scoring 21 points and shutting down the Illini en route to a 50-14 laugher that enabled the ‘Cats to end the regular season 9-3 and secure a New Year’s Day bowl game. And, we never punted. How about that?

The ‘Cats were so out of character on defense in the first half you could read it on Fitz’s face as he was like one of us saying “what the heck is going on?”. The flow of the game just felt weird. It had that anything-can-happen kind of feel to it and dare I say we didn’t seem like we wanted to be out there? At one point on a kickoff return after the Illini had cut it to 17-14, one Wildcat player (who I won’t name) turned around to Tony Jones at the six yard line and signaled him to take a knee. At that moment you thought “uh-oh”. Thankfully Kain and Venric started putting on their clinic right about then.  The gameplan was reminiscent of Walk’s 2003 second half when he ran every single down but one. We went with 19 straight run plays and the Illini couldn’t stop the two-headed monster that was just so outstanding today. As for the second half, well, wouldn’t you love to see a tape of what Fitz said and did at halftime? Holy smokes.

For those of you looking to double down on a wild day, you had the South Padre Island Invitational where Northwestern overcame a sloppy first half to win a streetfight against an incredible man-to-man D from Illinois State and one of the most incredible shooting performances you’ll ever see by an opponent as guy named Tyler Brown was draining 26 an 28 foot threes to keep the game alive, but the ‘Cats FT shooting won the day. We’ll be mixing The Great, The Good & More Great between football AND hoops as we offer up this double-dip of goodness.

There was really only one “Disappointing” element of the ‘Cats senior day slaughter and we’ll get it out of the way right now. The first half tackling was atrocious. I counted double-digit missed tackles as guys seemed to have their arms lathered in grease. Reilly O’Toole’s rushing TD highlighted a “what is going on?” sentiment from fans and coaches. Fitz addressed this at the half calling it the worst half of the season. Thankfully, corrections were made and NU came out on fire in the third. Let’s get on to the good stuff.

THE GREAT (Football)

Kain Colter - Game ball, my friend. Our relentless QB was simply dominating the Illini, seemingly toying with them at times.The junior QB rushed for 88 yards and went 9/11 for 102 yards and a career best three passing TDs. He accounted for 4 total TDs and the rushing stats – 88 yds on 14 carries – don’t do justice to how clutch he was, especially picking up first downs with his feet and making first downs on third down passing situations by tucking and running. Add his orchestration of a rushing game that saw Venric Mark dominate with 127 yards along with several option pitches and all in all you just sit there and say “what will 2013 be like?”

Venric Mark - For a guy who was dinged up enough we really didn’t know if he was going to play, it looked like someone shot Venric out of a cannon. The usually energetic #5 was in overhype mode and put on a show tallying 127 yards on 18 carries (7.1 ypc) and added a score. He was simply brilliant and carried the load when we needed it in the second quarter and then again on a punishing third quarter opening drive that essentially sealed the game. Had Mark played 4 quarters today, he would’ve been well north of 200 yards. He posted yet another 100+ yard game, his 8th of the season. Consider the fact he’ll enter the bowl game with the 7th best single season rushing mark of 1,310 yards and the second best all-purpose yardage season with 2,048 yards and you just say “wow”. How fun is he to watch? I’m calling it now, Venric should be on everyone’s preseason Heisman list for 2013.

The Offensive Line – With the exception of a drive killing clipping penalty on Brian Mulroe, this may have been a perfect game for the O-line (oh yeah, the one sack was a blemish as well).  The stat line of the day is 67 rushing attempts for 338 yards, which is just silly. The line play of the starters was magnificent and continues to be one of the surprising storylines of the season. Even when Mulroe, Ward, Konopka, Dieters and company were long done for the day, the second and even third string guys pummelled the Illini starters. The 11- minute 4th quarter drive, where everyone in the world knew it was a run, yet we’d still get 5 yards per carry was unreal. It seemed only fitting that a former lineman, Paul Jorgensen, would get a TD catch as part of day when everything went right.

Fitz’s Bench Mob – A lot of coaches would continue to run it up against a rival, especially one that has been sqwauking so much. Fitz pulled every starter in the third quarter, went run every single down except for a passing third down to prolong a drive, and dished out playing time to every one. The highlight of course was the team character, Bo Cisek, getting two carries within the five yard line that turned out to be disasters, but it was all in fun. Tyris Jones was fantastic and even Doug Diedrick got double-digit yardage. Add in the fact Max Chapman registered a safety to get us to 5-0 and it was just fun to see so many guys who worked so hard get so many minutes.

Beckman’s Interference – I’m sorry, but how hilarious was Tim Beckman’s bench penalty where he got plowed over by the official on David Nwabuisi’s interception? It symbolized the football follies the Illini displayed registering eight penalties for 88 yards in the FIRST half. Several personal fouls and some calls I didn’t know even existed just showed how far this program has fallen. At one point, the men in stripes were pulling out a scorecard to call out the Illini for an illegal numbering penalty, on the 2-point conversion on their opening score.

Chi Chi Ariguzo – With Damien Proby out early with an injury, Chi Chi stepped up and seemed to be playing swarming D for the pair of them. He was everywhere and tallied 11 total tackles on the day including a sack.

Third Quarter - I challenge you to find a more dominating quarter of play in the Fitz era. The ‘Cats gave up a mere 43 yards of total offense, scored 21 points, racked up 150 yards of offense and had a pair of interceptions.

2nd Half D – The ‘Cats gave up 37 yards of total offense in the second half had two interceptions and a safety. Plus, the 11 minute 4th quarter drive was one of the most impressive drives I’ve ever seen considering a)the personnel b)the fact that everyone knew it was a run everytime and c)the Illini still had a bunch of starters in the game.

THE GREAT (HOOPS EDITION)

Sobo’s 2nd Half – If you didn’t see this game then you missed possibly the most tenacious D we’ll see all year. I mean Illinois State’s first half smothering full court man-to-man was intense. We could barely get a shot off and the ‘Cats had 11 turnovers in the first half alone. Sobo couldn’t get within 25 feet of the basket to even get the offense going. Yet, he persevered and in the second half hit three huge jump shots when it was a 1-point game including two threes. He played fantastic point guard and ball control getting the ‘Cats offense going and did a ton of little things on D. Oh yeah, he only played 43 minutes in the most physically draining game you could imagine.

Swopshire/Hearn’s Senior Leadership – Jared Swopshire is as cool as they come under pressure. His first half play kept us in it and then down the stretch, both he and Reggie stepped up in so many ways. Swopshire would have a huge put back on a miss, Hearn hit a huge three then stripped it and scored a lay-up and then Jared was just unreal hitting pressure FT after pressure FT (he went 8-8). It was an ugly game all around for NU, but these two stepped up.

THE GOOD (Football)

Jeff Budzien – This guy is a lock for the Lou Groza award. He went perfect on the year on PATs and again went perfect on a pair of FGs  – 36 yarder and a 44 yarder. You can’t say enough about the most improved kicker in the country, who is now the best kicker in the country.

Tyris Jones – The former walk-on had a senior day to remember putting up 50 hard earned yards on the ground and scoring on a TD reception. It was fun to watch.

Christian Jones – He had another huge fourth down (4th and 6) catch and one that he tipped up in the air to himself that almost resulted in a TD. He deserved it since he was about to catch one from Kain Colter, when fellow Jones, Tony leapt in front of him almost intercepting the TD. Jones’ catch setup a Trumpy TD to put the game away 48-14 late in the third.

Tim Riley – I’m continually impressed with the senior who is becoming just outstanding on third down situations. He rushed for 23 yards on 3 carries and his play has me thinking “why have we waited this long?”

Spreading The Wealth - Eight different players scored – six different guys scored TDs, Budzien scored with his foot and Max Chapman scored with his D. Fitz deployed eight different rushers and eight different guys caught passes. That feat may never be duplicated.

5-0 Karma – Max Chapman’s sack got us to 50 points, a symbolic number in NU these days. The win was Fitz’s 49th, tying him for the alltime mark with Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf. Should we win our bowl game, it will be Fitz’s 50th career win and give him sole possession of with the most alltime wins. It seems predestined, no?

Acting Like We’ve Been There – I was glad to see no bush league retaliations to the Illini’s sophmoric antics last year via the PA system or the scoreboard.  I like when we act like we’ve been there before.

THE GOOD (BASKETBALL EDITION)

Drew Crawford – It might have been the quietest 20 points of his career. Drew sank a few clutch threes, but this night was one I’ll remember for the half dozen or so bunnies he missed as it seemed like the rim had a lid on it for him. He didn’t get frustrated and played big on the boards, pulling down nine rebounds.

Mike Turner – Alex Olah was simply too slow-footed to play against the up-tempo ISU Redbird big men. Carmody went with Turner early and he played a solid game defensively and did a ton of little things while crashing the boards. He played 36 minutes and did a masterful job on their stud, Carmichael, most of the night, while hauling in 10 rebounds and many of them were in crunch time.

SUMMARY:

The ‘Cats finally gave us a game that we could relax in as fans. We not only finished the Illini in the second half, we demolished them. It seemed like the perfect way to end a regular season that was so close to being that impossible dream season. We started this journey hoping we’d be 7-5 at best (at least I did). Now, with nearly every team between #18 and #25 losing, we’ll likely finish the season as a top 20-ish team.  We’re set up for huge expectations in 2013, but we all know it is now time to take care of business and get to the next level as a program by WINNING our bowl game. Once again, we’ll be playing a very tough opponent, likely a good SEC team in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year’s Day. Fitz had a great quote about playing an SEC team on their home turf and being “underdogs by 75 or so” like we usually are. We’ll spend much of this week looking at potential match-ups that would favor NU as I’ve already been claiming South Carolina as the team I’d want to face of the potential lot. It’s not going to be easy to get to win number ten, but we’re going to have a ton of fun over the next month firing up the fan base for a potential unforgettable New Year’s Day.

Also, the hoops team moves to 6-0 and returns home to face Maryland on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC challenge in what will likely draw a ton of national interest as the Big Ten team to be comes to Evanston. I’m fairly confident that Illinois State team will make it to the NCAA Tournament this year as I was really impressed by our ability to muscle out a win against a team that was incredibly coached. The ‘Cats shot just 34% and had 17 turnovers, yet won. You’ve got to hand it to Bill Carmody, he’s become much like Fitz in November – nearly automatic. NU won its third straight preseason tournament and this game was the toughest one yet. Overall, a great day for Northwestern. We’ll paste both the football stats and basketball box score below.

Team Totals ILL NU
FIRST DOWNS 12 29
    Rushing 5 23
    Passing 7 6
    Penalty 0 0
NET YARDS RUSHING 126 338
    Rushing Attempts 27 67
    Average Per Rush 4.7 5.0
    Rushing Touchdowns 2 3
    Yards Gained Rushing 139 359
    Yards Lost Rushing 13 21
NET YARDS PASSING 116 112
    Completions-Attempts-Int 12-18-3 11-16-1
    Average Per Attempt 6.4 7.0
    Average Per Completion 9.7 10.2
    Passing Touchdowns 0 3
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS 242 450
    Total offense plays 45 83
    Average Gain Per Play 5.4 5.4
Fumbles: Number-Lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties: Number-Yards 8-88 2-20
PUNTS-YARDS 3-127 0-0
    Average Yards Per Punt 42.3 0.0
    Net Yards Per Punt 42.3 0.0
    Inside 20 1 0
    50+ Yards 1 0
    Touchbacks 0 0
    Fair catch 1 0
KICKOFFS-YARDS 4-245 9-512
Average Yards Per Kickoff 61.2 56.9
    Net Yards Per Kickoff 28.2 40.0
    Touchbacks 0 0
Punt returns: Number-Yards-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
    Average Per Return 0.0 0.0
Kickoff returns: Number-Yds-TD 9-152-0 4-132-0
    Average Per Return 16.9 33.0
Interceptions: Number-Yds-TD 1-0-0 3-49-0
Fumble Returns: Number-Yds-TD 0-0-0 0-0-0
Miscellaneous Yards 0 0
Possession Time 22:57 37:03
    1st Quarter 9:10 5:50
    2nd Quarter 6:17 8:43
    3rd Quarter 6:40 8:20
    4th Quarter 0:50 14:10
Third-Down Conversions 6 of 9 7 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions 0 of 0 4 of 4
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2-2 6-7
    Touchdowns 2-2 5-7
    Field goals 0-2 1-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards 1-4 2-3
PAT Kicks 2-2 6-6
Field Goals 0-0 2-2

 

Individual Statistics

Individual Statistics (Final) 2012 Northwestern Football                    Illinois vs Northwestern (Nov 24, 2012 at Evanston, Ill.)

 

Illinois
Northwestern
RUSHING No. Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg.
Young, Donovonn 11 74 0 74 1 26 6.7
Ferguson, Josh  5 28 4 24 0 13 4.8
O’Toole, Reilly 6 19 3 16 1 12 2.7
Davis, Jon      2 11 0 11 0 9 5.5
Scheelhaase, Nathan 2 7 1 6 0 7 3.0
Ayoola, Dami    1 0 5 -5 0 0 -5.0
Totals… 27 139 13 126 2 26 4.7
 
 
 
RUSHING No. Gain Loss Net TD Lg Avg.
Mark, Venric    18 129 2 127 1 18 7.1
Colter, Kain    14 96 8 88 1 28 6.3
Jones, Tyris    13 50 5 45 0 11 3.5
Trumpy, Mike    8 35 0 35 1 7 4.4
Riley, Tim      3 23 0 23 0 12 7.7
Green, Treyvon  5 14 1 13 0 7 2.6
Diedrick, Doug  3 12 0 12 0 5 4.0
TEAM            1 0 2 -2 0 0 -2.0
Cisek, Bo       2 0 3 -3 0 0 -1.5
Totals… 67 359 21 338 3 28 5.0
PASSING Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Scheelhaase, Nathan 9-14-2 91 0 15 0
O’Toole, Reilly 3-4-1 25 0 17 2
Totals… 12-18-3 116 0 17 2
 
PASSING Cmp-Att-Int Yds TD Long Sack
Colter, Kain    9-11-0 102 3 30 1
Siemian, Trevor 1-4-1 9 0 9 0
Oliver, Zack    1-1-0 1 0 1 0
Totals… 11-16-1 112 3 30 1
RECEIVING No. Yds TD Lg
Osei, Miles     3 34 0 15
Millines, Darius 3 31 0 13
Ferguson, Josh  2 23 0 13
Young, Donovonn 2 12 0 9
Davis, Jon      1 17 0 17
Ayoola, Dami    1 -1 0 0
Totals… 12 116 0 17
 
 
RECEIVING No. Yds TD Lg
Jones, Tony     3 16 1 9
Lawrence, Rashad 2 11 0 8
Jones, Christian 1 30 0 30
Jorgensen, Paul 1 24 1 24
Jones, Tyris    1 15 1 15
Jensen, Mike    1 9 0 9
Fields, Demetrius 1 6 0 6
Youngblood-Ary, P. 1 1 0 1
Totals… 11 112 3 30
PUNTING No. Yds Avg Long In20 TB
DuVernois, Justin 3 127 42.3 50 1 0
Totals… 3 127 42.3 50 1 0
PUNTING No. Yds Avg Long In20 TB
Totals… 0 0 0.0 0 0 0

Northwestern Basketball Box Score 72-69 OT win vs Illinois State (South Padre Invitational Championship)

STARTERS MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Jared Swopshire, F 40 3-7 1-3 8-8 4 10 2 1 0 0 0 15
A Olah 9 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
Drew Crawford, G-F 41 6-20 3-8 5-6 4 9 1 3 0 1 3 20
Reggie Hearn, G 35 4-9 2-5 2-3 1 6 1 2 0 4 2 12
Dave Sobolewski, G 43 4-8 2-3 6-8 0 0 1 2 0 4 3 16
BENCH MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
Alex Marcotullio, G 5 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 0 1 0 1 2 3
Mike Turner, F 36 1-5 0-1 0-0 3 10 4 1 0 4 3 2
Tre Demps, G 13 1-6 0-2 2-2 1 1 0 1 0 2 1 4
K Abrahamson 3 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A OREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
20-59 9-24 23-27 13 37 10 11 1 17 15 72
33.9% 37.5% 85.2%

 

  • Danhamb

    Does anybody know where this win ranks in terms of biggest point differential in a B1G game for Northwestern all-time or in the Fitz era? When was the last time Northwestern hit 50 in B1G game?

    • David

      We beat Indiana in 2011, 59-38. That was Drake Dunsmore’s 4 TD game. This was our biggest margin of victory in a B10 game since we beat IL 61-23 in 2000.

    • zeek

      Biggest Big Ten victory since a 38 point victory over Illinois in 2000. Walk’s squad pounded Illinois 61-23 in 2000.

      We did hit 59 against Indiana last year but they had 38 on us.

      There was one really impressive Big Ten blowout since 2000 worth noting: Walk’s 2005 squad went to East Lansing and beat #22 Michigan State 49-14.

      Fitz’s previous biggest Big Ten win was a 22 point win over Purdue at home 48-26 in 2008.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Great point. Single biggest point differential in Fitz era. Also, the biggest B1G win (36 points) which bested the 22-point margin of victory over Purdue (48-26) in 2008. The previous biggest point differential was a 34 point win over Illinois State in 2010

  • Nate

    Great wins by both squads…was at RF for the Purple fury beatdown and loved every minute of it…if only Bo could’ve punched it in for the TD, the house would’ve come down lol…gotta get win #10 for a lot of people (myself included) to consider 2012 a successful season, but it isn’t gonna be easy with Johnny Football and A&M or South Carolina looming in bowl season.
    Didn’t realize how tough ISU was…a win is a win though as they continue to gel.

    • Sasser

      ISU’s Kenpom ranking, even after the loss, is #48, still ahead of us (we’re #57). There are potentially 3 teams out of Missouri Valley to get tournament bids this year, and ISU is one of those three.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Really? You don’t consider 9-3 a successful season when most preseason prognostications were in the 6- or 7-win range, driven mostly by losing pretty much all of our skill position players?

      • Nate

        After the Syracuse near-disaster I would’ve taken 9-3, because I didn’t have any faith in the defense. But after watching the whole season and realizing how easily NU could be 11-1/12-0 and in Indy next week, my expectations changed (as they should)…NU is a good football team that has had very few (if any) quality wins…a 10th win – first since ’95 – which ends the bowl drought AND against an opponent who will be favored to win would definitely satisfy me heading into next year…they have to win the bowl game, to me it’s the only opportunity to increase attention from the non-NU fan and attendance at RF next season as the program continues to grow…it’s a huge stepping stone that we’ve been waiting for them to take.

        • PBRCat

          If you had asked me in August, I would have been elated with an 8-4 or 9-3 record. As the season progressed, I realized how the schedule favored the Wildcats this year and how the division title was within reach.
          After the losses to Nebraska and Michigan, I became disappointed about the missed opportunities that the 2012 season presented. I wanted the Wildcats to play in Indianapolis next week. As Nate stated, it does seem as if the Wildcats feasted upon weaker opponents and repeatedly came up short against better teams.
          As for a signature win, it will have to come on January 1st. Beating Penn State (a team that Fitzgerald has never defeated to date), Nebraska or Michigan would have provided a regular season signature victory, but the team could not finish. In my opinion, the win at Michigan State was not a signature win. The Spartans were not up to snuff this season.
          I am glad that the Wildcats beat the other teams, but I am still hungry. I want Northwestern to return from Florida with a trophy.

          • fullfathomfive

            I share all of your frustrations and this could have been a Rose Bowl season, but after moaning about PSU/Neb/Mich I have finally put those games aside and concentrated on what we have: a resilient bunch of kids who win the games they are supposed to and have given us a New Year’ Day bowl and a 9-3 record. Yes, could have been more, but plenty to celebrate anyway: wins over Iowa and Illinois alone make it a good season. Now, NU has to do the one thing it has not done this season: beat a really good team. Go ‘Cats!!

  • HDB

    Orlando Sentinel’s November 25 bowl projections: Gator: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin; Outback: LSU vs. Michigan; Capital One: Georgia vs. NU. All Florida bowls will be tough but win would be sweet.

    • zeek

      Depending on how high we’re ranked 15-20 and whether Michigan falls out entirely, I guess I could see Cap One taking us on the basis of Georgia selling out that stadium.

      But there’s no way I’d want to play Georgia. Georgia and Alabama are on another level…

      • David

        Think Boise State/Oklahoma.

        • DT

          In the spirit of of the late and eloquent, Lloyd Bentsen… I knew Boise State, and Senator, Northwestern, ain’t Boise State….

          • David

            Yeah…unfortunately for that eloquent statesman…he and his partner got their tails kicked in the election.

          • DT

            You are a student of history no doubt..

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      I know Jim Phillips has a great relationship with the Cap One folks, so it wouldn’t surprise me, but I’d bet Michigan, with its fan base, better B1G record and win over us head to head gets the nod.

    • fullfathomfive

      Well, Georgia assuming the Bulldogs lose to Alabama … if not it’s the Tide … urp.

  • David

    LTP…if you read Fitz’s comments after the game…it seems that Budzien is not a finalist for the Groza award. You can find the comments in the quote section of the game article at the NU football website. Fitz was beside himself. It is too bad…his one miss was a 53 yarder by a foot. Even if the power that be do not recognize his excellence; I know all of us appreciate the near perfection of his work this season.

    • byebyefitz95

      Sucks. The kicked from Tulane though should win it. He is clutch. 20-20 on the year and 12-12 past 40 yards. That’s sicks. I would still take Budzien on my team in a second though.

      • Mike

        The thing that separates Budzien from the finalists is number of attempts. The others all have a minimum of 20, and on the Groza website, they specifically say about one of them, “his 84.6 percent conversion rate is the second highest among kickers with at least 20 field goals.”

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Well, we now have another thing to add to our “to do” list during this month. That is insane. When you consider his stats, the importance of the kicks and the environment in which he performed, if he doesn’t win it or at least get finalist mention, the award is a joke in my opinion.

      • http://twitter.com/RiseNU Philip R-R

        Yes, unfortunately Budzien was not a finalist. His stats suggest otherwise. Not enough long kicks maybe. If he had made the kick against Nebraska to win it, he would probably be a finalist. No shame in missing that kick though.

  • Ron

    If the Cats win the bowl, and Fitz breaks the coaching win record, will that be an occasion to “Lake the Coach?” (still enjoying the day)

  • NUmanager

    What a day. Bball definitely deserves to share the love. I will however throw in one “disappointing”. We will be in many tough B1G match-ups over the next 3 months. That final possession of regulation (9 seconds left in a tie game and all we get us a desperation 3) is not going to cut it. It felt all too familiar.

  • Mark

    The Cats sent a great message to the Illini: all that matters is what happens on the field. Beckman’s sending coaches to PSU, etc., was a failure to focus on what he could control – how his own team was developed and how it played.

  • cece
    • SJ Wildcat

      Beckman can’t get out of the way of the train-wreck called Illinois. Thanks for the link. Go Cats!

      • cece

        credit to LTP for posting the link to The Champaign Room below in the Blogroll. that’s where I found the Beckman masterpiece. thanks!

  • vaudvillain

    Well done, Cats. We all have our silly little fan superstitions that have no real effect on the games we watch — what we wear, where we watch, and so forth. Well, I’ve watched (or followed) every single bowl game since 95 in all sorts of places — my home, friends’ homes, sports bars. Once, I was at a friend’s wedding and couldn’t watch the game, but kept going out to my car to get updates on the radio (that was the Alamo against Nebraska, which I’d rather forget). We lost all those bowl games, which means that clearly, I as a fan was doing something wrong. So I have a new theory: I will watch this year’s bowl game from a place I never have before — the stands of the game itself. I’m looking forward to Florida, gentlemen. Let’s get #50 (a nice round number for a monkey-killer) in the Sunshine State. Go Cats!

  • byebyefitz95

    I have to put Budzien in the “Great” category…like you said…he was perfect for the game.

  • CatInTheHat

    Man, is it fun to be a Northwestern Wildcats fan right now! We were joking in our pregame tailgate about the fact that, because of the blown leads, this season feels like the most joyless slog to nine wins in NU history, but all joking aside, what a sincere pleasure it was to watch our seniors leave Ryan Field with a dominant victory, the LOLHat, and smiles on their faces. You could tell that every purple-clad player on that field was having fun out there, and that was the icing on the cake of a wonderful day. I have to echo LTP’s thoughts on our O-line: what a stellar season they had! They were the unsung MVPs of this team and, for my money, the best performing ‘Cats offensive line that I can remember. Victories by Syracuse and Vandy sweetened the package, and the basketball win ensured a great night’s sleep for all of us. Looking forward to seeing the ‘Cats ranked today and booking bowl flights next week. GO ‘CATS!

  • DT

    From an NU perspective, certainly an easy game to enjoy. The sun came out in earnest, NU stopped arm tackling in Q-2 and The Cats easily won the silver medal for second best FBS/FCS team in the state of Illinois by beating Illinois. Always good to disptach a “Rival”, albeit Iowa has become more that in recent years to my way of thinking. Easy to dislike a guy like Tim Beckman if for no other reason, what kind of guy sets up shop on a parking lot or Applebee’s, whatever/wherever to poach players and kick a fellow coach in the cajones ala what he did Bill O’Brien at Penn State… Karma is a fickle dinner date and I’d remind many that are commenting here, humility is a very interesting dynamic well… In NU’s case, the very real specter of a 10th straight bowl loss to what no doubt, will be a superior opponent given the “success” of this season…

    While I get the feel good thing you have going LTP, if you can tell me on or off this board that the number of folks in their seats for the Senior Day ceremony rates as ‘Good”, I’m sayin you had one too many Koolaids with Phillips pre-game… Further. the attendance for a bowl bound team playing a rival, from it’s home state no less was abysmal. I would say, the in game basketball promo with Screamin Gus Johnson proclaiming, “Northwestern Chicago’s Big Ten Team”, was well done, particulary aimed at the 3K or so in Orange in the Stadium, not to mention Beckman and his intrepid AD… NU delivered the message loud and clear and none better than Gus Johnson to proclaim anyting related to sports if one wants impact… Good job by the marketers and scoreboard folks to position the diss that way…

    Anyway, much more to say in the coming weeks leading up to a bowl… Net/net, fun game yesterday, always enjoy the folks who I’ve been sitting around in Section 130 for so many years… Parking was good yesterday, time to get my halftime cheeseburger typically long, and NU beat the very worst of a sub par Big Ten like a drum to win a trophy that replaced a tomahawk on the basis of being PC… Also kudos to Fitz for an interesting post game presser.. He just might be right about being a 75 point U-Dog to an SEC team in Florida.. Those dudes in Vegas win a whole hell of a lot more than they lose BTW… That said, as NU surprised me going 9-3, maybe, just maybe, this will be the year… I want to see the match up before giving them any kind of chance… Let bowl season begin…

  • zeek

    #22 in the AP poll

  • NUARANINETYFIVE

    Some observations regarding the future of the program: Northwestern has been playing football for since 1882 and in the last 4 years has been able to do something in its history that has dogged them since we have been playing on the Deering Lawn: The Administration has successfully retained a top coach…they didn’t bungle the negotiations and they did not waffle on specific items that Fitz felt was essential to the future of the program. To retain Fitz at a contract level in the 1.25 to 1.5 mil/year range when an offer from Michigan at 3.5 mil/year was on the table is a watershed moment in the development of athletics at NU. From Waldorf to Ara to Agase through Barnett…there have been roadblocks placed in the way of top coaches by NU’s administration that have allowed theses coaches to become ‘restive’ in their positions. Carpe Diem. I would like Phillips to be bold and have his staff do a preliminary ‘feel’ for the sale of luxury boxes on the east side of the stadium. If the numbers look good, I would like the administration to have the vision of a century ago (Dyche) and go to the market and sell bonds for the renovation of Ryan field (focused on the east stands) and have it ready for our game against ND in 2018. NU has the opportunity to replace Penn State as a consistent top tier program and I think a stadium renovation that completes the original vision would be a play on the Chicago area ‘demographics’ just as Delaney’s move with Rutgers and Maryland. Northwestern should be the ‘epicenter’ of Big 10 football in Chicago and in order to do so…Ryan/Dyche needs to leave the ‘high school stadium’ comments in the dust.

  • PBRCat

    “The Great, The Good, The More Great and The Confusing…” As to be confused and puzzled, a game ball was awarded to Jerry Brown. What does this signify? His possible retirement or Fitzgerald’s loyalty and his continued employment?
    Here’s hoping that the Wildcats have an excellent series of practices in preparation for New Year’s Day. I suspect that the Wildcats are going to receive an upgrade.

    • DT

      @56dffd42cddf47f76109548a5fd1c50f:disqus– Curious dynamic no doubt… That said, the one real take-away (so to speak…) I had leaving Ryan Field yesterday related to on field performance was that of the DB’s… IMHO, some of the very best play from that unit of the “Jerry Brown era” (that started when you and I were still young no less…) be it DB Coach or “D” Coordinator. The kids jumped routes, had solid coverage over the middle and delivered some solid hits and good form tackling technique after seeing the arm tackle was not working in Q-1. While one can’t forget the ineptitude Coach Brown has overseen through the years– on the basis of play yesterday, the man deserved a game ball… More power to em…

  • JM

    Great win, and –despite the tough losses– excellent season. 9-3, with so much youth, is a huge boost to the narrative around the program, and an affirmation of the talent boost we’ve been hearing about the last few years. We get a chance to end the bowl streak on a big stage, and go into next year with a real chance to win our division and compete for a conference title. The present is good, and the future looks better,

  • wildcatneighbor

    22 in the AP, 20 in the Coaches…Go ‘Cats!

  • Aaron

    ‘Cats are back in the rankings – 20 in the Coaches and 22 in the AP. Will have to see what happens with BCS. Maybe we can break our ranking curse, too.

  • SocalScott

    hmmm…Kent State and Northern Illinois are both ranked ahead of NU? Kent State lost to 2-10 Kentucky; NIU lost to Io_a and didn’t beat anybody of note. Do the people that vote in these polls know anything about football?

  • fullfathomfive

    What a fun day to be a Wildcat fan! I enjoyed the game with old friends — we couldn’t travel there unfortunately — and whooped it up at a bar in Philadelphia. Almost as much fun as 61-23 in 2000! One of my friends said, after that long drive stalled deep in Illini territory, ‘Gee, it’d have been nice to hang half a hundred on these clowns.’ Next play or so — safety for 50!! Karma comes through.

  • Polymersci

    Great win. Now on to prep for another win. I went to the Outback Bowl when NU played Auburn and had a blast. I’ pulling for the Outback Bowl and another exciting game.
    Go Cats!

  • James

    I saw the way that Fitz executed this game as a bit of revenge for the Wrigley Field massacre of 2010. Once he knew that we could dominate the line of scrimmage, it seemed like we just mercilessly ran it down the Ilini’s throat in the same way that they did with Mikel Lashoure and co back then. It was glorious to watch. Let’s just win this dang bowl game now….

  • maryland cat

    I am down in Sao Paulo (Brasil) on my annual Thanksgiving vacation to visit family and immensely enjoyed the broadcast on WGN’s Android app. Love being able to watch or listen to all Wild cats games wherever I am… and I feel good about any bowl opponent except Alabama or LSU. So anyone here wondering about the fiftyish guy waving a cell phone near the shoppers in Jardim Paulista, soccer isn’t the only football in these parts.

  • Paul K

    Thanks NUHighlights for another great edit. I appreciate that you broke your usual role of not including “bad” plays and adding Bo’s fumble to the show. The players were cheering wildly for Bo as he ran up the sideline and the fans did, too, as he entered the game. Too bad about the fumble, but glad Fitz gave him the opportunity.

  • Paul K

    Good observation, LTP, that the second string O line did a good job in the end. The starting O line has been the superstar of this season allowing VMark, Kain, et al, to do what they do best. I’m just enjoying this year, and hope others will step in to fill the line next.

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