#11 Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

Saturday brings the High Energy Head Coach Who Usually Give Entertaining Press Conference Bowl when P.J. Fleck’s Minnesota Golden Gophers visit Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats. (I guess the polar opposite of this match-up would be Iowa-Wisconsin, Kirk Ferentz and Paul Chryst). It’s no accident these two men are so similar.

Fleck’s coaching mentor literally is Fitzgerald, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year. (And this year Fleck could claim the award himself. Back when the very recently extended Gophers coach was just starting out his coaching career, working as a receivers coach at his alma mater, Northern Illinois, he called up all the coaches he had contact info for and offered to take them out to lunch.

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Northwestern Responds After Merrimac, Makes Providence Look Ugly

It’s too bad more fans didn’t show up for what is undoubtedly Northwestern’s marquee home non-conference game this season. Apparently, the upset loss to Merrimac in the season opener, plus the record cold snap hitting the area kept people away from 7,039 capacity Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The venue was well more than a majority empty for the Northwestern Wildcats’ 72-63 win over the Providence Friars in the Gavitt Tipoff games tonight. Like the B1G-ACC Challenge, the Gavitt Games are a series invented by the television networks in a big to garner more interest in early season college basketball. There are plenty of people making free college basketball picks in March, absolutely, but interest in the sport is typically lower in November. While attendance was low, those who did come out experienced the fun of an ’80s theme night.

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Purdue Rallies to Victory, Gives Northwestern an Absolute Gut Punch

purdue boilermakers

J.D. Dellinger was the hero for Purdue in an ending that was so exciting and interesting, it could have been written by J.D. Salinger. Purdue’s 24-22 come from behind win at Northwestern, decided by Dellinger’s 39 yard field goal in the final seconds, was as entertaining as one could expect for $2- that’s how low a price you could find tickets online for this one.

It was the nicest weather day the Chicagoland area has seen in a week and is forecasted to have for another week, absolutely perfect for a college football Saturday, but the sun is definitely not shining right now on the Northwestern football program. The Wildcats went up early 14-0, and they scored six more points today than they did all of October, but it just wasn’t enough.

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Northwestern Basketball Season Preview; Point Guard Top Issue

northwestern basketball

Tomorrow sees Northwestern basketball open the 2019-20 season, at home against Merrimack (who have a HUGE rivalry against Monitor! Hey hey! try the veal, and please tip your bartenders….okay, U.S. History majors will find that funny…no one else will)

NU hoops had the same problem last year as NU football has this year– no real field/floor general capable of running the offense, and everything else spirals downward from their. Northwestern basketball had no true point guard last season and as such they didn’t have much of a chance in many games. This year? Well, there are some potential answers at the one, and it’s referred to as the one because it’s truly first and foremost among basketball positions.

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Purdue Boilermakers at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview, Prediction

It’s astounding when you think about it- last year this game was both entertaining and overflowing with hype. ESPN sent their A-team to broadcast it. Now Purdue Boilermakers vs Northwestern Wildcats is, lackluster to say the least. For host Northwestern, it’s a season that’s long been lost, largely due to an offense that is so ineffective, watching them play could best be expressed by Sideshow Mel: “this endeavor is the height of tedium.”

If you’ve ever wondered what a power five conference team (not running the triple option or something gimmicky like that) would look like if they had absolutely no passing game, this is it. As for Purdue, well they came within three minutes of season their season pretty much over last week. The Boilers pulled out the win last weekend over Nebraska, but “let’s just roll out the basketballs already” mode could be here shortly.

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2019 Rutgers Closing in on 1981 Northwestern as Worst Power 5 Ever

rutgers dance team

It’s a shame that Rutgers, “the birthplace” of college football, is such a train wreck of a dumpster fire of a hot mess of a program these days. It’s almost like they peaked that historical day, November 6, 1869, when they defeated Princeton 6-4 (sounds like a 2018 Michigan State contest) in what was the first college football game ever.

The current incarnation of Rutgers football is on pace to become quite possibly the worst team in not just Big Ten, but also power five conference history. To reach that nadir, to take “fun bad” to the most utmost extreme level, the standard that must be eclipsed is 1981 Northwestern. It’s a high (actually low) bar, but it can be cleared.

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Northwestern Struggles Perfectly Epitomize Importance of Quarterback Position

clayton thorson

It’s been said, countless times that quarterback is the most important position in all of sports. Not just football, but all of sports in general. You can see that, perfectly exemplified, by the night and day difference between 2018 and 2019 Northwestern football.

This year’s team is 1-6, 0-5 in league play, just one season removed from going 8-1 in the Big Ten and winning the conference’s West division. Clayton Thorson, a four year starter at NU who graduated last year, was on hand for the Wildcats 20-0′ homecoming drubbing at the hands of Iowa and his presence was a reminder of what Northwestern once had at the quarterback decision, and what they’re missing right now.

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#19 Iowa Hawkeyes at Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

northwestern-football-ryan-field

Saturday morning brings a clash of two very contrasting styles, at least when it comes to the coaches press conference game when the Northwestern Wildcats host the #20 Iowa Hawkeyes. The visitors are led by head coach Kirk Ferentz, who is almost always very mild-mannered, and quite often vanilla in his media opportunities.

The Wildcats are led by Pat Fitzgerald, who is sometimes loud, always colorful, and quite often very funny in his pressers. Today, he was in rare form and we’ll get to all of that, but first we need to cover the FYIs.

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When Northwestern Football Was Once Cutting Edge on Offense

zak_kustok

As the new millenium began, the Northwestern Wildcats were at the forefront of offensive schematics in national college football. The Cats were the 2000 Big Ten co-champions (with Michigan and Purdue), thanks in large part to the spread-option system that they were running on offense.

Head Coach Randy Walker, and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, installed a system built around spreading defenders out, and then creating individual mismatches to potentially exploit. It was the polar opposite of the cliched “playing in a phone booth,” and it provided a signature win on Nov. 4, 2000 that was a harbinger of the brave new world to come.

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#3 Ohio State Buckeyes vs Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview, Prediction

amos alonzo stagg trophy big ten title

As Mark Twain famously said: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.”

Just ten months ago, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Northwestern Wildcats met for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. While the Buckeyes were sizable favorites, with almost all the free college football picks predicting a decisive OSU victory in that game, you still had two teams clashing on relatively equal footing. After all, these two teams, despite the contrast, were both division champions in the same conference.

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Nebraska Cornhuskers vs Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview

Everybody needs someone in their life who views them the way Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald looks at his offensive coordinator Mick McCall. The fact that Fitzgerald has kept McCall on his staff, in spite of all the years of poor results, epitomizes loyalty.

It’s the truest and bluest that true blue can be. We’re 1/3 of the way through the season and Northwestern ranks 128th out of 130 nationally in scoring (15.5 points per game) and 129th in yards per play at 3.93.  The Wildcats starting QB, Hunter Johnson, has one touchdown pass and 367 yards passing, in total, thus far this season.

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2019-20 Big Ten Basketball Power Rankings Media Day Edition

Wednesday is Big Ten Media Day, and if that seems extremely early, well that’s because it is really is. It’s 87 degrees in Chicago, host city for this event, as I type. Let’s talk basketball, amirite? I mean the Major League Baseball playoffs haven’t even started yet (the real postseason, not the play-in games) and we’re talking about an event that literally, just five years ago was held on Halloween.

That is the nature of the college basketball beast though. Everything is being moved up; way up in the calendar year. So without further ado, let’s look at the Big Ten basketball pecking order.

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