Don’t Hate the Player: NCAA Football ’13 Preview of Northwestern vs. Boston College
WNUR Sports Social Media Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) uses NCAA Football ’13 to predict the outcome of the Northwestern Wildcat’s match-up with the Boston College Eagles this Saturday.
It’s time for week 3 of the only column that provides a tangible answer to the question, “how will Northwestern fare on the gridiron this week?” To answer that question, I’m using the greatest football tool known to man (not really): NCAA Football 13 on my Xbox 360.
Unlike real life, the virtual ‘Cats dropped a close game last week against Vanderbilt, but they have an opportunity to bounce back against the highest-rated opponent they’ve faced all season. The Boston College Eagles have big-game experience, having beaten Miami in week 1 of the simulation. As always, I’ll go around the country and Big Ten before simulating Northwestern’s game play by play using 5-minute quarters in NCAA Football 13.
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 Boston College:
LB Kevin Pierre Louis (JR): 87 Overall, 88 tackling
HB Rolandan Finch (JR): 86 Overall, 87 speed
LB Sean Duggan (SOPH): 85 Overall, 89 tackling
NU (1-1): Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-
BC (2-0): Overall: B, Offense: B-, Defense: B
Northwestern Game Recap
The first quarter was marked by dominant defense. Northwestern had the first scoring opportunity, but missed a 52-yard field goal. The first quarter would end with no score, but Northwestern was in excellent scoring position.
The first play of the second quarter brought the first points of the game: a 9-yard TD pass from Kain Colter to Kyle Prater. Boston College responded with a 9 play drive aided by two penalties on Northwestern’s defense. A 1-yard TD run tied the score at 7. Northwestern drove the ball inside the red zone again, but turned the ball over on a fumble by Treyvon Green.
Neither team would score again in the first half, so the score at halftime was 7-7. Northwestern had more offensive yards at the break, including the edge in both rushing and passing yards. The big play of the game at this point was the only turnover: Northwestern’s fumble at the Boston College 15 yard line.
Boston College came out of the virtual locker room with a renewed offensive focus. They took a 7-point lead with a 12-play drive to start the second half. The Wildcats seemed a bit shell-shocked until late in the third quarter when Northwestern finally forced BC to commit a turnover. Sophomore cornerback Daniel Jones intercepted a pass and gave Northwestern’s offense the ball at midfield. Eight plays later, Treyvon Green scored from two yards out to tie the game at 14 early in the 4th quarter.
Boston College’s next drive was an aerial assault that included a 39-yard pass and ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Eagles ahead, 21-14. Things would only get more interesting from here. Northwestern’s first offensive play after falling behind again was a 75-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Prater. Someone at EA has paid attention to Northwestern recently, because this virtual matchup had all the makings of another “Cardiac ‘Cats” special.
Boston College came out passing again and moved into Northwestern territory. On 4th and 4 from the NU 34 yard line, Boston College got a 31-yard pass. They scored on the next play to silence the crowd at virtual Ryan Field with a 28-21 lead. Northwestern faced a decision four plays into their next drive. It was 4th and 10 from their own 22 yard line with under two minutes to play. Rather than punt and trust his defense, virtual Pat Fitzgerald went for it. Kain Colter was sacked, giving BC the ball inside field goal range. Northwestern burned all their timeouts and didn’t allow a first down, but Eagles kicker Nate Freese made the 22-yard field goal to put BC ahead, 31-21.
Northwestern needed a virtual miracle, and they almost got it. The Wildcats drove down the field and scored a touchdown, but failed to recover the ensuing onside kick. Final score: Boston College 31, Northwestern 28.
For the second week in a row, Northwestern came out on the wrong end of a close game. The Wildcats and Eagles had nearly identical stats for the game. Boston College had better conversion rates on third down, fourth down, and in the red zone. Otherwise, this game was pretty much a toss-up. Northwestern’s wide receivers were the highlight of the game for the ‘Cats. They only dropped 4 passes, the lowest such total of the season. Christian Jones and Kyle Prater both had over 100 yards and a touchdown. That tandem of sophomores will undoubtedly have an impact in years to come, but their contributions weren’t enough to push Northwestern to victory in this game.
Big Games This Week
#21 Notre Dame @ #10 Michigan State: Michigan State wins, 38-14.
#15 TCU @ Kansas: TCU wins, 21-14.
#8 Alabama @ #6 Arkansas: Arkansas wins, 24-14. (Alabama now 1-2)
#14 USC @ #17 Stanford: USC wins, 49-10. (Both teams now 2-1)
Around the Big Ten
The #16 Nebraska Cornhuskers lost by 14 at home to the upstart Arkansas State Red Wolves. #13 Wisconsin improved to 3-0, as did #5 Michigan. #10 Michigan State’s matchup against Notre Dame was billed as the game of the week, but the Spartans cruised to move to 3-0. Purdue suffered a blowout loss at home to Eastern Michigan. Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota all cruised to wins against lesser opponents. Navy went to Penn State and defeated the Nittany Lions. Ohio State needed overtime to beat Cal in Columbus.
Heisman Top 5:
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan
Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU