Gator Bowl Gameday Is Here! #17/#20 Northwestern (9-3) vs Mississippi State (8-4)

Fitz Budzien team leave NU tunnel with American Flag

Northwestern (9-3) vs Mississippi State (804)

GAMEDAY INFO
Date: January 1, 2013 
Kickoff:
11:00 am ct
Location: EverBank Field (67,164) – Jacksonville, FL
All-time Series: 
 First meeting
Trends:
‘Cats have lost nine straight bowl games (1-9 alltime); Mississippi State is 9-6 in bowl games
Favored Team: Mississippi State (-1)
TV: ESPN2 – PXP Bob Wischusen, Color Danny Kanell, SL Allison Willliams
Radio: WGN 720 AM – PXP – Dave Eanet, Color – Ted Albrecht; Sirius Radio Channel 123, XM Radio 195; WNUR 89.3 FM (student station)
Twitter: @NU_SportsLIVE
Coaching Stats: NU – Pat Fitzgerald (7th year –49-39, 26-3o) vs Dan Mullen (4th year–29-21 )
Weather Forecast: 71 degrees, Wind – SW 8 mph

PRR previews Gator Bowl on David Baumann Show in Orlando

DB_1-1-13_NW

2-Minute Drill

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about this game? Northwestern enters with a ton of momentum from a surprising 9-3 regular season and a killer rushing attack with Kain Colter and Venric Mark mixed in with the passing prowess of QB Trevor Siemian. Northwestern has a chance to earn just the program’s third 10-win season ever and end that nasty 9-game bowl losing streak, tied (with Notre Dame) for the alltime infamy mark in bowl losing streaks. Mississippi State opened the season 7-0 and then hit the meat of their SEC schedule and effectively crashed and burned going 1-4 down the stretch. This is about as good as and SEC opponent match-up we could hope for as the match-ups set-up pretty nicely for Northwestern. A win would really catapult the Wildcat program and have them likely finish in the top 15 rankings and also set up a 2013 where they’ll likely be in the same boat as far as preseason rankings. There is a ton on the line for the program.

Headlines I’d Like To See On Wednesday:

  • Racing To New Heights; Colter, Mark pave way in rout of Bulldogs
  • Perfect “10”; ‘Cats earn rare 10-win season, defense shuts down Mississippi State

WHEN NORTHWESTERN HAS THE BALL

You’d think it will be much of what we’ve come to expect. Kain Colter running the zone option read with a heavy dose of Venric Mark as NU looks to exploit a below-average rush defense (66th, 166 ypg).  With so much time off, you can bet Fitz will have some wrinkles in the mix and you can also bet that Trevor Siemian will get some reps at QB. However, the interesting thing here is that Mississippi State features a pair of possibly the best CBs in the nation. Johnthan Banks, the Jim Thorpe Award winning corner is a shutdown guy and Darius Slay anchors the other side of the field. The Bulldogs give up 223 ypg (48th) in the air, but there is no doubt the strength of this defense is its secondary. It makes you think that MSU will stack the box and bait NU to have to beat them through the air.

WHEN MISSISSIPPI STATE HAS THE BALL

It seems like every bowl game we face a stud QB. This year is no different. Tyler Russell is this year’s guy to fear and the pocket passer has thrown for 2791 yards, 22 TDs and only 6 INTs for an offense that averages 249 ypg (50th) through the air. Russell will pick apart NU if given time to throw, so you hope that Mike Hankwitz has an aggressive gameplan dialed up. Mississippi State, however, has been excellent at protecting Russell, and are 2nd in the SEC in sacks allowed and 28th overall. If you ask any Bulldogs fans they’ll tell you Russell is the best QB theyThe Bulldogs are a relatively poor rushing team and manage just 141 ypg on the ground (80th FBS). They’re led by LaDarius Perkins at RB (85 ypg), but the run game has been all but shutdown during the 1-4 finish to the season and the Bulldogs have become very one dimensional. They score points, however, and just like NU, they average nearly 31 ppg.

Intangibles: Turnovers have been NU’s friend this year, but MSU is 5th in the country in turnover margin (+1.42 pg). They feature a 16th ranked punt coverage team and figure to give Venric Mark a really tough challenge on punts. Jameon Lewis is KOR threat and is the best return man in the SEC as well

Lake The Posts Factor (0=so certain you can DVR and watch late night, 10=running to Ryan Field, ripping down FG posts and marching them in to Lake Michigan): 9.5

It does get bigger than this (ex – Rose Bow, B1G title game), but this is a potential pivot

Pick To Click: Dan Vitale

I just think the rising freshman superback will have some opportunities to get some action in the middle of the field. Vitale will likely be they key target from Trevor Siemian when he’s in and based on his recent major uptick in catches, I think Dan is just the X-factor that could make the difference.

Head to Head Stat Pack – 2012 averages

Northwestern                                      Mississippi State

31.5………………………….Scoring Per Game………………………30.2

22.8………………….Scoring Defense Per Game………………22.4

22.5……………………..First Downs Per Game………………….20.3

230.9………………….Rushing Yards Per Game…………….. 140.7

5.0…………………………….Average Per Rush…………………………4.3

28………………………….Rushing Touchdowns………………………18

166.8…………………. Passing Yards Per Game…………….. 248.8

14…………………………. Passing Touchdowns………………………26

397.8…………………..Total Offense Per Game……………… 389.4

20.9……………………….Kick Return Average……………………23.8

17.5……………………….Punt Return Average……………………..7.1

8……………………………………Fumbles Lost………………………………. 7

4…………………………… Interceptions Thrown………………………. 6

+13………………………….. Turnover Margin……………………….+17

5.5…………………………..Penalties Per Game……………………….4.6

53.1…………………… Penalty Yards Per Game………………..40.9

29:57…………….Time of Possession Per Game…………30:20

45%…………………..Third-Down Conversions……………… 37%

53%………………….Fourth-Down Conversions…………….. 65%

18-19……………………..Field Goal Attempts………………….12-20

37.8……………………….Net Punting Average……………………39.5

45-51 (88%)……………Red-Zone Scores………. 36-47 (77%)

Stats to Stew On:

  • Tracking Venric Mark – Mark needs just 148 all-purpose yards on Tuesday to set the alltime single season record for NU. Damien Anderson holds that record now with 2,195 yards. Mark leads the B1G and is sixth nationally in all-purpose yards with 170 ypg. Mark also has 1,310 rushing yards and needs just 79 to pass Jason Wright for 4th on the single season list.
  • Kain Colter has 820 rushing yards (12th in B1G) and needs 180 to hit the 1,000 yard mark. Colter holds the #2 and #3 alltime single game rushing marks for an NU QB with Mike Kafka’s 217 still the gold standard.
  • The NU fifth year senior class has already set a record for most wins in five years with 39.
  • NU is 13-4 in their last 17 regular season games.
  • The ‘Cats have scored in double figures in 72 consecutive games

Predictions

LTP: I feel it in my bones. This quietly confident team has that swagger and I think they finally take care of business in a bowl game. I do believe we’ll need big games from Ibraheim Campbell and Nick VanHoose and likely a game-changing pick to really help thwart QB Tyler Russell. I believe we are very healthy and the Kain Colter/Venric Mark duo will be very tough for Mississippi State to stop. I’m hopeful we can jump out early and actually win going away as the ticker can’t take nailbiter after nailbiter. I alslo think it will be a high flying high scoring game.

Northwestern 37 Mississippi State 31

PRR: This is a big opportunity for Northwestern. We all obviously feel it as these teams are pretty evenly matched up. The Wildcats have some experience going for them — in that they have beaten bowl eligible teams. But this Mississippi State team is still incredibly talented. This game comes down to the lines. The offensive line for Northwestern has been superb and the defensive line has been good too. Mississippi State has struggled at times on offense and I think NU is the most consistent team. There will be some heart attacks, but that is just because that is how Northwestern wins games. It will not be Outback Bowl level and NU pulls out the win.

Northwestern 28, Mississippi State 24

Jack Marshall’s Pick

Northwestern 24 Mississippi State 20

 

  • Al

    I do not have a good feeling about this game. The rational part of my brain fully acknowledges that NU can win this thing, but I still have this feeling of doom.

    • PDXCat

      My bad stomach pit feeling is we start to run away then Fitz lets up because he respects his friend on the other sideline too much. We lose a “typical” heartbreaker because we don’t go for the kill.

      But I also have this fantasy (not the one with Uma Thurman) where we score a TD on a trick play, maybe a double pass. And if it’s tight late, do we see Curve Ball? Then, riding the bowl win wave, we steal one from Michigan Thursday as they overlook us. Then I get a text from Uma asking if I want to go to the Cats round of 64 game . . .

      • zeek

        Personally, I feel infinitely more confident than the past two years which I felt like were sure losses going in (Texas Tech and Texas A&M were big favorites over us due to offensive personnel issues in my mind going into those games)…

        I feel great about tomorrow. The best I’ve felt about a Fitz coached team going into a bowl game…

        It doesn’t guarantee us anything, but we’re in as good a position to win a bowl game as we’ve been in dare I say since ’49…

  • NUCATS04

    Why can’t we have Jack’s mom make predictions? Shes hot.

    • Sigmacat93

      She is smoking. Post her!

  • MySobriquetCat

    As one of the lonely left here in Chicago, I’m looking for a bar to watch tomorrow’s game where the majority of televisions will be focused on The Gator Bowl. I called Kendalls Pub to see if they were doing anything special, and the person who picked up the phone “guessed” that they would be showing the game tomorrow… which I presume is correct. But, I may not end up near Lincoln Park. Any suggestions if I don’t? Tommy Nevins in Evanston? I’m tired of my local bar, where I can’t guarantee that either the jukebox or another bowl game won’t be on the loudspeakers. Thanks for any suggestions. Go, Cats!

    • Leither

      I called Kendall’s and spoke to the manager and he said, “Of course we’ll be open and watching NU. This is our year, right?” He said doors open at 9:30. Hope this helps! Go, Cats!

    • NUCATS04

      Kendall’s sucks. Go to Lion’s Head Pub and talk to Adam. They will show the game there. I bet my nut sacks they will. Kendall’s is awful. Boy cot Kendall’s all you can…Russian’s run that place and the only reason it is our sponsor bar is because the head of the Chicago alumni association gets free beer and sucks the owners cock!!!

      • kinsella316

        Nice and classy, @cf919cdca32d6570ab0f7cb0ad2eb323:disqus. A bit too much holiday cheer last night, eh friend?

        • nucats04

          Haha sounds on at lionshead. Beers are two dollars compared to five at kendalls. Just saying.

    • kinsella316

      Kendalls is showing the game. Lion’s Head should be too. Sheffield’s in Lakeview has turned into a ‘Cats bar too, apparently. I believe that the Buffalo Wild Wings in Evanston is doing some sponsored game watch thing officially with the University too.

      • James Klock

        Sheffield’s has been good to us this year, flying the sculpted N flag out front, and making sure that our game-watching experience is good. Their main room is pretty small, but they have other spaces that they’ll open up if they get a huge ‘Cats turnout.

        If I were in Chicago today, and looking for someplace to watch the game, I’d definitely be on the Brown or Red Line, headed for Sheffield’s right now.

  • Mark

    Go Cats!

  • David

    This may be purple bias…but I think Venric may bust off the ultimate performance of bowl season so far tomorrow.

  • Catatonic Joe

    There are an awful lot of maroon Mississippians here with those damn cowbells. I hope the Purple show up in force.

  • Drew

    How did I know we’d end up with that unprepared TV crew from the MSU game… Oh boy… Go Cats!

  • http://www.facebook.com/prossmanreich Philip Rossman-Reich

    Just added a radio hit I did in Orlando previewing the Gator Bowl. It is up at the top of the post. Check it out!

  • bandcat

    Here is hoping Chicago’s Big Ten Team gets the Chicago sports scene off to a Wildcat winning start. Damn ,71 degrees sure sounds good. Go Cats!!! Got to suit up and get the Rotel and chips fired up.

  • Wildcat86

    The cowbells are already incredibly annoying around Jax and the game hasn’t started yet. Lets shut them up early! Go Cats!

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Nebraska5010
Minnesota4110
Iowa4110
Northwestern2210
Wisconsin3100
Illinois3201
Purdue2301

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Maryland4110
Ohio State3100
Michigan State3100
Penn State4111
Rutgers4101
Indiana2201
Michigan2301