Riding high after two wins over Iowa and Michigan State, the Northwestern Wildcats return home to take on the Indiana Hoosiers on Homecoming at Ryan Field. The ‘Cats and Hoosiers kickoff at 11:00 am CST at Ryan Field and WNUR’s coverage starts at 10:00 with the pregame show.
Here’s how our broadcasters think the Wildcats will fare against Michigan State:
Ryan Fish (@ryanmfish): Indiana 27, Northwestern 23
With Northwestern’s offense rolling and a date with Ohio State lurking, this could be a trap game for the ‘Cats. Indiana, who hung with Ohio State and Nebraska the past two weeks, is a better team than people may realize. Pat Fitzgerald’s crew can’t lose focus.
Player to Watch: Richard Lagow, QB, Indiana. Second in the Big Ten in passing yards and tied for second in touchdown throws, Lagow can sling it out there. It should be fun to watch him and an improving Clayton Thorson go toe-to-toe on Saturday.
Michael Stern (@michaeljstern23): Northwestern 34, Indiana 27
The Wildcats have won eight of their last nine against Indiana. Make it nine of ten.
Player to Watch: Ricky Jones, WR, Indiana. Jones leads the Big Ten with 11 receptions of 20 yards or more. The Wildcats were beaten deep a couple of times last week, and if the Northwestern secondary can prevent the longball, they should walk away with a homecoming victory.
Ari Ross (@aross50): Northwestern 33, Indiana 30
Both teams will put up points offensively, and a lot will depend on which defense can get the most stops and prevent the big play. Northwestern’s secondary will have their work cut out for them, but one or two interceptions could be the difference. Clayton Thorson and Austin Carr connect again for two scores and a late Jack Mitchell field goal proves to be the difference for the ‘Cats on Homecoming.
Player to Watch: Alonzo Mayo, CB, Northwestern. With Trae Williams doubtful, Mayo will have to step up for the ‘Cats in the secondary. Mayo’s been beaten deep a few times this year, and if he gets beaten Saturday, it could be the difference in the game.
Sam Brief (@sambrief): Northwestern 31, Indiana 27
Indiana is a much more balanced team this year, and I’ll be curious to see how Northwestern handles the Hoosiers’ spread offense. But Northwestern’s offense has been throttled into high gear. Northwestern in a nail-biter.
Player to Watch: Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern. I’m curious to see if he can catch 2+ touchdowns for a third-straight game.
Matt McHugh (@mattmcsports27): Indiana 31, Northwestern 23.
The ‘Cats winning streak comes to an end against a pretty solid Indiana team. Some big plays through the air plague Northwestern, and they can’t muster up quite enough offense to keep up.
Player to Watch: Joe Gaziano, DL, Northwestern. Gaziano had one of the hardest hits of the season last week, but will he be able to keep it up? The ‘Cats will need him to be a strong force in both the pass rush and run defense.
Josh Burton (@Josh_Burton1): Indiana 27, Northwestern 24
The hot streak ends for Northwestern against upstart Indiana. The Wildcats’ defense has allowed 71 points in its last two games — admittedly, both wins — but I think this week, the offense won’t be able to back its counterparts up. Coming back to Evanston for their first home game since the Nebraska loss, the Wildcats will come up just a field goal short late in Saturday’s contest.
Player to Watch: Richard Lagow, QB, Indiana. Lagow, while he may not sport a traditional quarterback number, has been pretty good for the Hoosiers this season, even if he has thrown nine interceptions in just six games. Considering the precarious state of Northwestern’s thin secondary – which has even less depth this week than usual – Lagow could rack up yards and points with ease.
Parker Johnson (@sportsbyparker): Northwestern 30, Indiana 24, OT
Northwestern suddenly has an offense! The ‘Cats give the homecoming crowd a good show against an Indiana team with a penchant for close games at the end – losing a close one to Nebraska last week and beating Sparty in OT. After the ‘Cats get a huge stop on defense in overtime, Clayton Thorson throws a bullet to Austin Carr for a walk-off victory.
Player to watch: Tegray Scales, LB, Indiana. Scales does it all for the Hooisers on defense. He leads the team in tackles, unassisted tackles, and tackles for loss and is tied for the lead in sacks and interceptions. Northwestern offensive line needs to get to the second level and deal with him when Jackson runs, and protect against his blitzes when Thorson throws.
Amit Mallik (@upper90shot): Northwestern 24, Indiana 19
The ‘Cats grind out a tough midseason victory behind a dominant run game, and a defense up to the task.
Player to Watch: Flynn Nagel, WR, Northwestern. Austin Carr is the established star wideout, but NU needs a No. 2 (literally) to produce as defenses key in on Carr going forward. Nagel’s development is also extremely important going forward to maximize the Clayton Thorson window in the next two and a half years.
Ryan Wangman (@ryanwangman): Northwestern 31, Indiana 21
Look for the Cats to build on their positive momentum from last week’s shootout in East Lansing. Expect the revitalized offense to keep moving the chains against a weak Indiana defense.
Player to Watch: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Always gotta keep an eye on the ball carrier.