Don’t Hate the Player: NCAA ’13 Preview of Northwestern vs. Syracuse


Welcome to the first week of my simulated season in EA Sports NCAA Football 13! I have always been a huge fan of this series, so the opportunity to write a weekly column while playing the game is as much of a no-brainer for me as the Dwight Howard trade was for the Lakers.

Here’s the plan: I set up the 2012 NCAA Football season in the game. I’m controlling the Northwestern Wildcats and all the settings are set to default (5 minute quarters, Varsity difficulty.) Rather than play out the games and show off my “mad skills on the sticks,” I let the game’s Supersim function decide the winner. I watched the game carefully, taking the notes you’ll see in each recap. The end result is a tangible outcome for each of Northwestern’s football games before they take the field. After breaking down the final score of Northwestern’s game, I’ll briefly share what happened around the NCAA and Big Ten in simulated action that week.

If you don’t like a result, don’t blame me. I’m just reporting what happens in the game EA created. (Disclaimer: this column is not endorsed or sponsored by EA Sports.)

Key Players on Northwestern:

SS Ibraheim Campbell (Soph): 88 Overall, 93 tackling

LB David Nwabusi (SR): 87 Overall, 92 tackling

QB Kain Colter (JR): 87 Overall, 85 agility

Key players on Syracuse:

WR Alec Lemon (SR): 86 Overall, 86 catch

K Ross Krautman (JR): 85 Overall, 85 power and accuracy

LB Marquis Spruill (JR): 84 Overall, 82 speed


NU: Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-

SYR: Overall: C+, Offense: B-, Defense: C

Northwestern Game Recap

Syracuse got the ball first and earned 3 first downs, converting on 3rd and long twice. They finally got the ball inside the Northwestern 30 before quarterback Ryan Nassib was intercepted by NU defensive end Quentin Williams. Northwestern’s first offensive play of the 2012 season was an 18-yard pass from Colter to Kyle Prater. That was the only first down they could muster on their first drive. Syracuse used a strong running attack on their second drive, led by running back Adonis Ameen Moore. That drive resulted in a 37-yard field goal, and Syracuse led 3-0.

Northwestern replied with a field goal of their own on the next drive, tying the game at 3-3 with 4 minutes left in the first half. Syracuse then went 3-and-out, but Northwestern couldn’t capitalize. Kain Colter threw an interception and Syracuse started their next drive from the NU 41 yard line. That drive would result in another Syracuse field goal to make the score 6-3.  Kain Colter came back out after throwing an interception and completed several long passes, including a 20-yarder to Evan Watkins to convert on 4th down. Two plays later, Colter connected with Christian Jones for the first touchdown of the game. Northwestern led 10-6 at halftime.

Northwestern’s offense stalled on their first possession of the 2nd half, but Syracuse came out of the virtual locker room ready to go. They scored on a 1-yard run by Prince Tyson Gulley after Adonis Ameen Moore, the starting running back, broke his toe. Trailing 13-10, Northwestern’s offense again failed to get a 1st down. With the momentum on their side, Syracuse wasted little time scoring again. This time, it was a 59-yard pass to give the Orange a 20-10 lead late in the 3rd quarter.

That would be the score at the start of the 4th quarter as Northwestern was on the move again offensively. The Wildcats were finally able to string together some completions, and Demetrius Fields capped things off with a 9-yard TD reception. Syracuse went 3-and-out, giving Northwestern the ball back with a little over 3 minutes to play and a 3 point Syracuse lead on the scoreboard.

On this drive, Treyvon Green suffered a bruised ankle, which ended his day. (After the game, it was announced that the injury was minor.) Mike Trumpy filled in well for him, picking up a couple of first downs. Jeff  Budzien missed a 40-yard field goal that would have tied the game. Northwestern’s defense then got a big stop and forced Syracuse to punt. Northwestern would start the most important drive of the game on their own 38-yard line with 1:38 to play and one timeout left. Kain Colter was clutch again, completing medium-length passes to move Northwestern inside the red zone with under a minute left. With 48 seconds left, Colter hit Demetrius Fields in the back of the endzone to give Northwestern a 23-20 lead. Northwestern then missed the extra point, so Syracuse could still force overtime with a field goal. That ended up not being an issue, as the Orange failed to get even one first down on their last drive. Northwestern was able to escape with a 23-20 win in classic Cardiac ‘Cats fashion.

Final Thoughts

Northwestern outgained the Orange, 360 to 322. Kain Colter won the player of the game. He completed 19 of 38 passes for 262 yards. He threw 3 TDs and 1 interception. He also rushed for 28 yards. Demetrius Fields also had a big game. He caught 7 passes for 103 yards and had 2 touchdowns. Northwestern wide receivers dropped seven passes, and Fields was responsible for two of those. All in all, this game was closer than it should have been, but Northwestern will take the W.

Big Games This Week

#21 Boise State @ #12 Michigan State: Michigan State wins, 29-17.

#11 South Carolina @ Vanderbilt: South Carolina wins, 45-21.

#1 Alabama vs. #9 Michigan: Michigan wins, 35-25.

Georgia Tech @ #15 Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech wins, 24-21

Hawaii @ #2 USC: Hawaii pulls off the upset, 28-24.

Around the Big Ten

All 12 teams in the conference won their season openers.

Heisman Top 5:

Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin

Eric Reid, FS, LSU

Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

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