Don’t Hate the Player: NCAA ’13 Preview of Northwestern vs. Michigan
WNUR Sports Social Media Director Cameron Songer (@CameronSonger) simulates this week’s matchup between the Northwestern University Wildcats and the University of Michigan Wolverines with the help of NCAA Football ’13.
For Northwestern at Michigan, a lot of the storylines in the simulation are similar to those in real life. The ‘Cats are underdogs for Saturday’s game, despite a higher BCS ranking. In the simulation, Michigan has better overall ratings, but Northwestern boasts a better record. Will the simulation’s prediction be close to the real outcome?
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 Michigan:
QB Denard Robinson (SR): 93 Overall, 93 speed
MLB Kenny Demens (SR): 91 Overall, 92 tackling
WR Roy Roundtree (SR): 90 Overall, 92 speed
NU [6-3 (4-1)]: Overall: B, Offense: B, Defense: B-
Michigan [5-4 (2-3)]: Overall: A, Offense: A, Defense: B+
Northwestern Game Recap
The Wildcats went three-and-out on their first drive, so Michigan got pretty good field position to start. They drove the ball to the NU 1-yard line, but the defense held and forced a field goal. Northwestern’s next drive got some yards, but they had to punt again. Michigan continued to move the ball through the air, and had worked their way into Northwestern territory to end the first quarter. The score was 3-0.
The second quarter was more of the same. Northwestern’s offense was kept in check by Michigan’s speedy defense. On the other side, Michigan’s deep threats at wide receiver spread the field, allowing the Wolverines to operate underneath for short gains and first downs. The first touchdown of the game came from a short run from Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. 10-0, Michigan with about two minutes left in the first half. Michigan would add another field goal as time expired to take a 13-0 halftime lead. Northwestern was dominated in every facet of the game in the first half. The ‘Cats earned just 3 first downs to Michigan’s 14 and just 75 yards to Michigan’s 284.
The second half started out with more of the same, except Michigan’s offensive line killed an early drive with holding penalties. Northwestern’s offense switched to a no-huddle and the line started giving Kain Colter some holes to run. His running ability forced Michigan’s linebackers and secondary to play up, and this set up a 37-yard TD pass to Treyvon Green to put the ‘Cats on the board, 13-7. Michigan converted two third-and-long situations on the ensuing drive and marched into the endzone, swinging momentum right back on their side. Northwestern faced a 20-7 deficit to start the fourth quarter.
It wouldn’t be a Northwestern game if it didn’t get interesting at the end. The ‘Cats drove into the red zone, but came up short on fourth and goal midway through the final quarter. With the ball deep in their own territory and a 13-point lead, Michigan ran the ball on more than 10 straight plays to run out the clock.
The 20-7 loss drops Northwestern to 6-4 (4-2) and puts them squarely in third in the division. The Wildcats weren’t favored by any stretch of the imagination in this game, but the dug a deep hole for themselves in the first half. Michigan used a balanced attack in which Denard Robinson completed over 70% of his passes for over 300 yards. Michigan also gained over 150 yards on the ground. This balance was not matched by Northwestern’s offense, which mustered just 43 rushing yards. Perhaps the most telling stat is that Michigan had more offensive yards in the first half than Northwestern had all game. Ouch.
Big Games This Week
#2 Kansas State @ TCU: Kansas State wins, 44-38 in OT
Notre Dame @ #23 Boston College: Notre Dame wins, 24-21 in OT
#1 Arkansas @ #15 South Carolina: Arkansas wins, 41-24
#11 West Virginia @ #13 Oklahoma State: West Virginia wins, 42-32
Mississippi State @ #3 LSU: Mississippi State wins, 30-20
#7 Georgia @ Auburn: Auburn wins, 34-10
Baylor @ #4 Oklahoma: Baylor wins, 37-34
Arkansas is the only unbeaten team left. Kansas State, Florida State, North Carolina, Iowa, Michigan State and Utah have one loss each.
Around the Big Ten
Illinois kept Minnesota from earning their first conference win, 31-24. Iowa massacred Purdue, 38-10. The Hawkeyes improved to 9-1. #20 Nebraska held home field with an eight-point win over Penn State. #10 Wisconsin had problems with the Hoosiers early, but scored 25 unanswered points in the second half to coast to victory. After suffering their first loss, Michigan State had a bye, as did Ohio State.
On the Leaders side, Wisconsin holds a one game lead over Illinois. On the Legends side, Michigan State and Iowa are both 5-1; Northwestern and Nebraska are 4-2.
Heisman Top 5:
Knile Davis, HB, Arkansas
Malcolm Brown, HB, Texas
Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State
De’Anthony Thomas, HB, Oregon
EJ Manuel, QB, Florida St.