Opinion: Northwestern Wildcats Off to a Great Start
As a proud Northwestern alum, I couldn’t be more proud of wins on the road against Syracuse and at home versus Vanderbilt. This isn’t your grandfather’s Vanderbilt either, they are legit. Remember in the opening week how they pushed South Carolina to the limit? And had it not been for a questionable call, they might have actually won the game. Syracuse also played USC really tough at a neutral site. These wins will look better by season’s end as both teams are now 0-2 but will do much better moving forward.
But our concern is the Wildcats. We’re 2-0 and coach Pat Fitzgerald has worked his magic once again. Wooing Kain Colter to Evanston was perhaps as big a coup as we’ve every won in recruiting. Patrick Ward came in highly touted but has been good, not great. Colter changes the way we do buisness and might give us a breakout quarterback that exceeds the likes of Baz, Persa and even Kafka. Not sure what to make of the Trevor Siemian role, but if it works, don’t fix it.
The surprise of the season for the Wildcats is of course the electric Venric Mark. No one knew how to use him for the first two years he was in Evanston and now he’s big enough to play in the backfield and fits in like a charm. He was already one of the best special teamers in the Big Ten and possibly the country. Now he’s running with home run ability because of his track speed. Another smart recruiting move by Fitz and company.
The schedule is very friendly from this point forward. The next four games should be easy wins. Boston College, South Dakota and Indiana all at home in Evanston. Then on the road at Penn State, who is absolutely reeling in the post Joe Paterno era. That trip to State College, Pa. is followed by a trip to Minnesota, a tricky game if you ask me. Having a guy like Marqueis Gray in front of the Nebraska game is tough. Surely the Cornhuskers want absolute revenge after losing at home last year. They’ll come to town for a “family weekend” clash.
If things go right and we take care of buisness, we could easily go into the Nebraska game undefeated. The most difficult part of the first part of the schedule is behind us. But hey, we’re all Northwestern fans and we know the unthinkable always happens, even when something looks easy. So I say we lose a disappointing game somewhere in that stretch (see Army last year) and come into the match up with the Cornhuskers with at least one loss, maybe two.
But overall, the first two wins have set us up to become bowl eligible again for a record number of consecutive years and this program continues to trend upward. A few more strong recruiting classes with game changing athletes like Mark and we could be talking Big Ten Championship in a few years.