Don’t Hate the Player: NCAA ’13 Preview of Northwestern vs. Indiana
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 Indiana Hoosiers this Saturday.
Conference games in the Big Ten get started this week, and the virtual Wildcats are set to take on the Hoosiers. In real life, Northwestern beat Indiana easily last year. However, this simulated season is almost nothing like real life. Alabama, for instance, enters week 5 of the simulated season with the same record as Northwestern (2-2), while Indiana is 3-0.
As always, I’ll use NCAA Football 13’s SuperSim function under default settings to determine the winner of Northwestern’s weekly game. Then, I’ll look at what else is happening in the simulated season. You’ll notice that the rankings don’t always match up with real life. This is a result of my simulated 2012 season running independently from real life.
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 Indiana:
HB Stephen Houston (JR): 83 Overall, 88 trucking
C Will Matte (SR): 83 Overall, 85 run blocking
DT Adam Replogle: 82 Overall, 85 strength
NU (2-2): Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-
IU (3-0): Overall: C+, Offense: C+. Defense: C+
Northwestern Game Recap
Neither team scored on their first possession, but Northwestern was able to capitalize on an interception. A Jeff Budzien field goal scored the first points of the game. Neither offense could really get going in the first quarter, which ended with a 3-0 Northwestern lead.
The Hoosiers had -4 yards rushing and only three first downs through one quarter. Northwestern began the second quarter inside Indiana territory in the midst of a drive. Two plays into the quarter, Treyvon Green turned the ball over on a fumble and the defensive chess match continued. Northwestern at least appeared to be winning the battle for field position, especially after a punt gave Indiana the ball on their own 3 yard line with two minutes to play in the half. Four plays later, with the ball on their own 15, sophomore Cody Latimer hauled in an 85-yard touchdown pass to put IU up 7-3.
Indiana would take that four-point lead into halftime. Each team turned the ball over once in the first half, but Northwestern’s offense showed much better balance than Indiana’s, which had only 6 rushing yards in the first half.
Northwestern’s defense, as they did in previous simulated games, allowed a touchdown on the first drive of the second half. The 11-play, 82-yard drive ended with a short QB sneak that gave the Hoosiers a 13-3 lead due to a missed extra point. The Wildcats came back with their own 71-yard drive in 9 plays to cut the lead to 3. With the offensive units from both teams warming up, this game had all the makings of a “Cardiac ‘Cats” special.
Indiana went three-and-out on their next possession and Northwestern moved the ball down the field using the running game. Kain Colter made some nice moves to avoid defenders in the backfield, but the big play again eluded the ‘Cats. The drive stalled and the ensuing 28-yard field goal missed.
The score remained 13-10 early in the fourth quarter. Indiana came out running the no-huddle and trying to put the game out of reach. They moved the ball into Northwestern territory thanks to a 33-yard scamper by their QB, but failed on a fourth-and-seven attempt from the NU 33 yard line.
Northwestern moved the ball up the field again in crunch time, but a holding penalty at the Indiana 14 yard line crushed Northwestern’s touchdown chances. Jeff Budzien nailed a 41-yard field goal to tie the game with a little over a minute to play. Indiana took over at their own 25 with all three of their timeouts remaining. With the freedom of being able to call a timeout, Indiana opted to try rushing the ball. This strategy backfired, resulting in a three-and-out.
With the score locked at 13-13 and 48 seconds left on the clock, Northwestern started the most important drive of the game from their own 20 and 2 timeouts. Of course, Northwestern came out throwing the ball, which earned one first down. On the fourth play of the drive, Kain Colter didn’t find anyone open, so he tried to scramble up the field. He took a huge hit and fumbled the ball. Indiana recovered at Northwestern’s 36 yard line. They couldn’t advance the ball inside the 30 and opted to go for a touchdown rather than a long field goal as time expired. The Hail Mary pass sailed long, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, Kain Colter ran for 16 yards on the first play. Two plays later, on third and goal, he connected on a seven-yard pass to Kyle Prater. Indiana’s overtime possession came down to a 4th-and-20 that came up just inches short.
Northwestern somehow escaped with a 20-13 win in overtime, but it wasn’t always pretty. Northwestern barely outgained Indiana. In a battle of dual-threat quarterbacks, Kain Colter and Indiana’s Tre Roberson played to a draw. They each threw for over 200 yards and rushed for nearly another 50. Individual statistics aside, the Wildcat defense came through in the clutch, holding Indiana to a 16% success rate on third downs. Finding ways to win close games is a Northwestern tradition— one that is captured in the game a little bit too well.
Big Games This Week
#9 Wisconsin @ #22 Nebraska: Nebraska wins, 21-17.
#3 Arkansas @ #19 Texas A&M: Arkansas wins, 40-18.
#17 NC State @ Miami: Miami wins, 39-28.
#24 Missouri @ UCF: UCF wins, 30-27.
#14 Texas @ #16 Oklahoma State: Texas wins, 20-17.
Around the Big Ten
Conference play got started this weekend, but there really wasn’t too much to get excited about. Illinois knocked off Penn State and Michigan State improved to 5-0 with a win over Ohio State. Iowa also improved to 5-0 by defeating a Minnesota team that started the season well. Purdue won a non-conference matchup against Marshall. The game of the week in the Big Ten was Nebraska defending its home turf against Wisconsin. Both teams are now 4-1. Michigan (3-1 overall) had a bye.
Heisman Top 5:
Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Ken Malcome, HB, Georgia
EJ Manuel, QB, Florida St.
Knile Davis, HB, Arkansas
De’Anthony Thomas, HB, Oregon