America can roll their eyes on a big ten division championship with a 6-4 record. But one of Jay Cutler's…
America can roll their eyes on a big ten division championship with a 6-4 record. But one of Jay Cutler’s biggest hits reflects how wild cats would answer the hates: “Do not worry.”
Northwestern is 6-1 in the Big Ten with a three-point loss to Michigan. Wildcats has won 10 straight Big Ten West games. They have not lost their way since September 30, 2017.
And most importantly they are heading to Indianapolis for the 1st of December’s 10th Championship game.
Here are three takeaways from their gritty, come-from-behind 14-10 victory Saturday in Iowa:
1. Northwestern has the gift of the day.
How strange that Wildcats’ last two regular season games ̵
1; in Minnesota and home versus Illinois – do not matter in the ranking. This means that NU coach Pat Fitzgerald can be ultra-conservative with injured players, and his defense has four of them: linebacks Nate Hall, backbone Montre Hartage (hamstring) and Trae Williams (ankle) and security Jared McGee (uncovered) . All figures to be cleared before 1 December.
Northwestern also needs time to get a kicker fresh. With Charlie Kuhbander and Drew Luckenbaugh recovering from undercapacity, Jake Collins tried a goal at 38th farm Saturday. He came up short in his first kick since high school. Collins is a good point, but plus he did the tackle on his first two kickoffs.
2. Clayton Thorson finds another way.
He went for a season lasting 122 yesterday on Saturday, finishing 15th of 30. He threw two interceptions, but everyone on the NOW protested against it first believer slot recipient Flynn Nagel who was coming out of his break. On the other side he threw behind Ben Skowronek and into traffic – a big mistake.
On the plus side, Thorson made a fantastic throw at Skowronek’s 32-yard dive touchdown catch. He got double first down on gutsy scrambles and reached the ball over the virtual yellow line on one. And he threw away several balls that were well covered.
Thorson put massive numbers in midseason win over Michiga n- state (373 meters) and Nebraska (455). It is hard to say why his passenger values have shrunk so dramatically in the four games, as other than Northwestern emphasize driving and get strong production from freshmanbackback Isaiah Bowser (483 meters over the last four games).
Thorson and Fitzgerald do not care about their statistics. And that is good.
3rd This team has been established.
To finish the west on Saturday, Northwestern has to win as a 10½-point underdog. Minnesota had to beat Purdue as an 11-point dog. And Wisconsin had to fall on Penn State. The odds against everything that happened were almost 15-1, but veteran NU equipment guru Curtis Shaner was prepared. He had “B1G West Division Champions” hats, and Fitzgerald ignored some superstitiously by highlighting his transport to Iowa City.
All this reflects a forward-thinking program and is detailed. Even after committing five penalties on Saturday, Northwestern ranked first in the nation in that category after being flagged only 31 times in 10 games.
The wild cats confront the analytical amount. They remain 126th of 130 FBS teams with 4.5 meters per game. The defense allows 5.5 per game, 52nd national. They are minus-1 in sales. They have the profile of a sub-500 team.
But Northwestern wins close play and takes advantage of their opportunities on Saturdays. And as a result, the ultimate opportunity will be two weeks from Saturday: the Big Ten title, with a Rose Bowl venue to be won.
Twitter @ TeddyGreenstein
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