All is well that ends well.
Northwestern started off all kinds of slow, Clayton Thorson looked very green, and then it all got better! If Northwestern’s defense was even just an ok unit, this could’ve been a very different game. Ball State could’ve been up 20 at half time, and that’s not hyperbole. 2 missed field goals and an unforced fumble inside the 5 let Northwestern enter the break down just 3. Then, Clayton Thorson remembered he was a 4-star recruit, led Northwestern on back to back touchdown drives, and NU got its nose out just far enough to stay ahead.
If only the Wildcats could’ve stayed healthy.
- Everyone spent at least some time on the injury table today. Igwebuike, Quiero, Mogus, Mahoney, Garrett Dickerson, and CJ Robbins all had to take at least some time off, and Quiero and Mogus look like long term injuries. We’ve been hearing all year about how deep Northwestern is. We’re going to find out how good that depth is next week. If NU is down 3 or more starters PLUS Matt Frazier, Jared McGee and Adam Depietro, who were all out coming into today’s game, it’s going to be real hard to beat Minnesota next week. Next man up, but in this case, it’s looking like next 5 guys up.
- Nick VanHoose is now a shutdown corner. I mean you just can’t throw the ball his way. He’s got decent speed, great positioning, and he’s a sure tackler. With him and Matt Harris locking up opposing wideouts, you’ve got to be some kind of special to get loose.
- Jordan Williams from Ball State is some kind of special. He has no business being on a mediocre MAC team. He made a ton of highlight reel catches. Keep an eye on him.
- If Clayton Thorson can get into a rhythm, he becomes a very solid QB. Early in the second half, Mick McCall started calling some easy passes over the middle, Thorson converted, and then started connecting on the tougher throws. With younger guys, you just need to work that much harder to get them into the game.
- Justin Jackson has more yards than Ezekiel Elliot. Or as we said in the 3rd quarter:
Justin Jackson rushing yards this season: 473. Ezekiel Elliot: 455. pic.twitter.com/Hg0cASvQz2
— WNUR Sports (@WNURSports) September 27, 2015
- This was a real struggle. Enough that it should sober out Northwestern fans at least a little bit. Winning is winning, but this isn’t a team that a Big Ten West champion just scrapes past. The offense was anemic for long stretches of the game. The defense actually got beat up a fair amount, giving up 119 rushing yards in the first half. With two difficult games (Minnesota and Michigan) coming up, the Wildcats don’t have a lot of time to straighten things out nor get healthy. Minnesota looks less impressive each consecutive week, but that’s a good defense. Michigan is looking more and more like a legitimately good to almost great team. A performance like this against a good team and you’re staring up at a 20 point deficit going into halftime. Fortunately, Ball State couldn’t fully take advantage. Northwestern is 4-0. But I felt much better after 1-0, 2-0, and 3-0 than tonight.