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

WNUR Sports Social Media Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) previews Saturday’s game between the Northwestern University Wildcats and the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers with the assistance of NCAA Football ’13.

It’s always been human nature to try to find out what will happen before it does. In ancient times, priests and priestesses that could interpret divine prophecy held high social status. Even today, a person “connected to the other side (or something)” will read your palm for a fee.

Now, I like to think that my method of predicting outcomes for each week of the college football season is more scientific. Scientific or not, trying to predict or even watch Northwestern football can drive you crazy. 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. Remember, there’s no human error in any of these weekly results. They all come from the SuperSim function in NCAA Football 13. Don’t like the results? Don’t hate me.

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 Minnesota

QB Marqueis Gray (SR): 85 Overall, will miss game due to injury

OLB Keanon Cooper (SR): 85 Overall, 86 speed

MLB Mike Rallis (SR): 83 Overall, 83 tackling


NU [4-2 (2-0)]: Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-

Minn: [3-2 (0-1)]: Overall: C+, Offense: C+, Defense: C+

Northwestern Game Recap

Both teams’ defenses started the game well. Minnesota recorded the first big play of the game, intercepting Kain Colter’s pass at the NU 41. The Gophers capitalized quickly with a short TD run to end a 5-play, 44-yard drive. 7-0 Minnesota. Northwestern’s next drive came to a 4th-and-3 from the Minnesota 39. Coach Fitz went for it and Kyle Prater dropped the short pass. 3 plays later, Minnesota busted a 44-yard TD run. 14-0, Minnesota.

That would be the score at the start of the second quarter, but not for long. Northwestern finally got on the board when Colter hit Christian Jones for a 13-yard TD, cutting the Gophers’ lead to 7. The two teams would exchange short, fruitless drives for much of the half, but the Wildcats would score again late in the second quarter on a short pass to Demetrius Fields. The ensuing extra point tied the game at 14. With all of their timeouts, Minnesota was able to run a successful 2-minute drill and score another touchdown right before halftime.

The Gophers led 21-14 at halftime, despite losing in nearly every statistical category. Northwestern had the edge in offensive yards, 209 to 182 and shut Minnesota down on all four of the Gophers’ third down attempts.

The difference in quarterback play began to show in the second half. Minnesota’s Marqueis Gray was injured in an earlier simulated game, and his backup, sophomore Max Shortell, carries only a 74 Overall rating. Minnesota had a lot of trouble passing the ball for much of the game. Their running back, Jake Gillum, made up the difference. He broke an 88-yard run midway through the third quarter to put the Gophers back up by 14. At this point, Gillum had 8 carries for 164 yards and 2 TDs.

Northwestern would start the final quarter facing a 14-point deficit and a 4th-and 4 near midfield. The handoff went to Treyvon Green and he barely got the first down. From there, the ‘Cats needed six more plays to reach the end zone with Colter’s third TD pass of the game. The fourth quarter had the potential to belong to Northwestern– they just needed a big play. For much of the quarter, it looked like it wasn’t going to happen and the score remained 28-21. Injuries also started to plague Northwestern: Treyvon Green would miss the rest of the game and would be doubtful next week with a pulled groin. Defensive tackle Will Hampton sprained his elbow and would be slated to miss a few games.

With 1:58 left to play, though, Northwestern recovered a fumble deep inside Minnesota territory and things started to improve for Northwestern. Mike Trumpy got five straight carries to move the ball inside the Minnesota 6 yard line. Sophomore receiver Christian Jones took care of the rest, winning a jump ball in the end zone to tie the game.

Minnesota got the ball back with 1:30 to play, having choked a 14-point fourth quarter lead. The Gophers called three straight passes and completed exactly zero. The ‘Cats had all three timeouts and the ball at their own 40 with under a minute to go. Kain Colter came up in the clutch with short completions to Evan Watkins and Christian Jones, as well as a couple of designed runs. The drive set Jeff Budzien up for a 44-yard field goal with time expiring. With the game on the line, the kick was true, and Northwestern completed the comeback for a 31-28 win.

Final Thoughts

The improbable conference season continued for the Wildcats, who improved to 3-0 in the Big Ten. This was the kind of game in which the ‘Cats are usually on the other side, so the come-from-behind victory was awesome. Northwestern had an edge of over 100 yards in total offense, highlighted by the effort from Demetrius Fields (9 catches, 111 yards, 2 TDs). The only major downside to this win was the injury to Treyvon Green. He’ll likely miss at least one game. His production from this game (24 carries, 107 yards) will be missed.

Big Games This Week

#6 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma: Texas wins, 28-17

Illinois @ #9 Michigan: Illinois wins, 34-17

Stanford @ #23 Notre Dame: Stanford wins, 20-14 in overtime

Kentucky @ #2 Arkansas: Arkansas wins, 42-35

#13 Alabama @ Missouri: Missouri wins, 42-35

South Carolina @ #1 LSU: South Carolina wins, 24-10

#8 USC @ #17 Washington: Washington wins, 34-24

Around the Big Ten

The only other Big Ten game with no top 25 implications (other than NU-Minnesota) was Ohio State’s narrow win against Indiana. #15 Wisconsin improved to 6-1 (2-1) with a win at Purdue. Illinois invaded Ann Arbor and thrashed the #9 Wolverines, 34-17. #5 Michigan State improved to 7-0 (3-0) by handing Iowa its first loss.

Heisman Top 5:

De’Anthony Thomas, HB, Oregon

EJ Manuel, QB, Florida St.

Knile Davis, HB, Arkansas

Ken Malcome, HB, Georgia

Malcolm Brown, HB, Texas

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