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

WNUR Social Media Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) previews Northwestern’s home opener against Vanderbilt with the assistance of NCAA Football ’13, which says Wildcat fans may have reason for concern.

The simulated NCAA season enters its second week after a crazy opening weekend. In week 1 of the simulated season, Northwestern won at Syracuse despite trailing by 10 at the start of the 3rd quarter. The top two teams, Alabama and USC, both lost in simulated action.

This week’s format is just like last week: default settings in NCAA Football 13 Dynasty mode. I let the game’s Supersim function decide the winner of this week’s Vanderbilt/ Northwestern showdown. I watched the game carefully, taking the notes you’ll see in the recap. The 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.

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 Vanderbilt:

HB Zac Stacy (SR): 87 Overall, 89 speed

DT Rob Lohr (SR): 86 Overall, 70 agility is high for someone who weighs 290 lbs

QB Jordan Rodgers (SR): 86 Overall, 86 throw power


NU (1-0): Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-

VANDY (0-1): Overall: B-, Offense: B, Defense: C

Northwestern Game Recap

Both teams took a little while to warm up, as neither offense moved the ball past the 50 yard line on their first possession. Northwestern’s offensive struggled even more the second time around. After two dropped passes, Kain Colter forced a bad throw and was intercepted. Vanderbilt needed just three plays to score. An 8-yard pass made the game 7-0 Commodores. That was the score when Northwestern broke through with the first big play of the game early in the second quarter, a 42-yard pass from Colter to Rashad Lawrence. Vanderbilt was shocked by the huge gain through the air and gave up a 9-yard touchdown pass on the very next play. Northwestern had tied the score at 7. The Wildcats’ offense continued to run smoothly on their next possession, utilizing a no-huddle offense to keep Vanderbilt’s defense on its heels. Things were looking good for Northwestern until Kain Colter was injured as he scrambled for a first down. Trevor Siemian came in but could not produce a first down. The drive was fruitless; the 34-yard field goal attempt by Jeff Budzien missed wide left. Around the same time that news came back that Colter would likely return in the second half, a more serious injury hit Northwestern. Senior left tackle Patrick Ward fractured his foot and would likely be out for the rest of the season. He was rated as an 83 overall and his backup carries a 69 overall rating.

Northwestern’s defense continued to stymie the Commodore offense and Trevor Siemian started to settle into a rhythm late in the first half. However, Northwestern’s drive came up empty again when the 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Vanderbilt again failed to get a first down and Northwestern was able to put together another drive and make a field goal as the clock expired in the first half. The Wildcats dominated both sides of the ball in the first half, so the 10-7 lead was somewhat disappointing. Vanderbilt’s offense gained only 101 yards and 3 first downs in the first half.

The second half was a different story for Vanderbilt. They needed only five plays to score on the opening drive of the second half. Trailing 14-10, Trevor Siemian and Treyvon Green both made some solid plays en route to a 75-yard scoring drive. Northwestern regained the lead on a 3-yard TD run by Green to make the score 17-14. The Commodore offense responded with a similar drive finished off with a short rushing touchdown. In a game that began to look eerily similar to the virtual nail-biter in week 1, Northwestern trailed at the start of the 4th quarter, 21-17.

Northwestern’s defense, which had resembled a brick wall in the first half, suddenly looked vulnerable. Vanderbilt scored their third touchdown of the second half early in the 4th quarter. That made the score 28-17, the largest deficit the virtual ‘Cats had faced to this point. Northwestern’s offense had trouble mounting an effective drive in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Demetrius Fields dropped three crucial passes in the fourth quarter while Northwestern trailed. The ‘Cats were able to score with 1:07 remaining in the game, and a successful 2-point conversion cut the lead to 28-25. After a failed onside kick, Vanderbilt needed one first down to run out the clock, and they got it. Rather than run out the clock the rest of the way, Vanderbilt opted for a field goal. Northwestern got the ball back down by only six, but a last-ditch play went horribly wrong and resulted in a game-ending safety. Final score: Vanderbilt 33, Northwestern 25.

Final Thoughts

Northwestern’s run defense struggled. Vanderbilt running back Zac Stacy finished the game with 28 carries for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the second week in a row, Northwestern outgained its opponent, but this time, it didn’t lead to a win. Dropped passes were a problem for the ‘Cats again. Demetrius Fields had an otherwise solid game (8 catches, 121 yards), but dropped three more passes than all of Vanderbilt’s players combined. On a positive note, Trevor Siemian played well when Kain Colter was injured. Combined, Colter and Siemian were 26 of 49 for 334 yards. To sum it up, Vanderbilt played well enough to win, but Northwestern was probably the better team.

Big Games This Week

East Carolina @ #10 South Carolina: ECU wins, 25-24

Miami @ #12 Kansas State: Miami wins, 52-31.

#24 Florida @ Texas A&M: Texas A&M wins, 28-11.

#25 Washington @ #1 LSU: LSU wins, 38-31.

#4 Georgia @ Missouri: Georgia wins, 23-17.

Fresno State @ #2 Oregon: Oregon wins, 23-21.

Around the Big Ten

#18 Ohio State was upset by Central Florida, 28-23. The other Big Ten teams in the top 25 all won: #19 Nebraska, #5 Michigan, #11 Michigan State, and #15 Wisconsin. Those teams, as well as Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa, remained undefeated. All the teams in the Big Ten won in week 1.

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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