EVANSTON, IL - SEPTEMBER 8: Venric Mark #5 of the Northwestern Wildcats celebrates after a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ryan Field on September 8, 2012 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern won 23-13. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
I'm hoarse, hungover, my clothes are still wet, I'm regretting smoking that cigar, and my car is absolutely trashed with tailgate supplies.
And I couldn't be happier. Northwestern is 2-0 against two BCS conference foes.
Of course, I'm sure many of our readers are not quite as happy as Wildcats fans (or Hoosier fans, or Gopher fans, or Buckeye fans, or Spartan fans)....the rest of the B1G is 0-7 against BCS conference competition, after an ugly Saturday that saw the Pac12 drink the B1G's milkshake in three west coast games, Tre Roberson and Jared Abbrederis taken out of the stadium in ambulances (Roberson's lost for the season), and Purdue having their hearts broken in South Bend.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure Sam Ficken just missed another field goal.
Hangovers are a bitch, particularly after losses. So consider this article a chance for you to bitch, moan, and otherwise air grievances. Like Johnny Cash sang, it's Sunday morning (well, technically evening), coming down.
I'll keep the volume of my Wildcat celebration muted out of respect.
A couple of thoughts (and keep in mind, I was tailgating during the afternoon games, so my thoughts are not necessarily well-informed on those games, as I'm only reading recaps/looking at box scores):
- Penn State's in for a long season. Yes, PSU left a lot of points on the board....but UVA could have and should have scored a lot more than they did. I'm still wondering why Mike London pulled his QB Michael Rocco for stretches of the 2nd half. And Matt McGloin banging up his elbow confirmed another fear -- if the Lions suffer many/any injuries, there's very little depth on the roster.
- The Gophers looked impressive. Sure, they were playing an FCS opponent.....but they beat them up the way a B1G team should beat up an FCS opponent. And don't overlook the benefit in getting the backups some playing time in the 2nd half -- that may be VERY important late in the season, when injuries mount.
- Man, I'm depressed about Tre Roberson being lost for the season. I truly think he could have been a special player this year, and he flashed that talent on 50 and 39 yard touchdown runs. But kudos to Indiana for beating UMass, getting a second victory, and continuing to look decent enough to make my "Hoosiers over Penn State" prediction not laughable.
- I know you Buckeye fans are excited....Braxton Miller really is looking great. But excuse me for not quite jumping on the OSU bandwagon yet -- UCF stayed in that game for a LONG time. Urban Meyer has the Buckeyes pointed in the right direction, but it'll be interesting to see if the winning continues when the competition gets a little tougher.
- Northwestern's defense was excellent last night -- forcing turnovers, getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers' little brother Jordan, and holding Vanderbilt to just 101 rushing yards (an impressive feat, since Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy is the SEC's leading returning rusher -- he only had 36 yards rushing in the game). Very encouraging, and a sign that the Cats might not be as atrocious as they appeared against Syracuse (also note that Syracuse put up 29 points on USC, so they may actually just be a very good offense).
- Venric Mark gained 123 tough rushing yards -- he ran between the tackles with authority that surpassed his rather diminutive size, but also has such stellar speed that he was frequently able to get around the edge on option pitches. Next week against Boston College, he has the chance to become Northwestern's first back-to-back 100 yard game rusher since....Tyrell Sutton.
- One more note -- nice crowd/attendance for Northwestern. Listed attendance was 31,644 (not great, but it's the largest home opener crowd in years), but it felt like more as the crowd was loud and engaged. I also tailgated in a new spot -- a golf course near the stadium. It was AWESOME. Tailgating on grass is vastly superior to tailgating in a parking lot. (Also, shout out to Hilary Lee, who joined my tailgate crew and brought the cigar that I now regret smoking).
- Michigan State is damn good. Pasadena good. Hell, maybe BCS title game good. Just a vicious defense....oh, and Andrew Maxwell is getting better as a QB. This team will be a tough out late in the season. Time for them to crush Notre Dame next Saturday.
- What the hell has happened to Iowa's offense, Wisconsin's offense (particularly Montee Ball), and Nebraska's defense? Just atrociously ugly play from all three units. Vandenberg's poor performance is the most perplexing to me -- I really thought he was one of the B1G's best QBs, but he looked like a MAC backup QB against the Cyclones.
- Michigan? Wow, you guys got lucky. Air Force rushed the ball at will against the Wolverines, and could have/should have won that game. Also: Denard. See? That's what you should have been doing last week against Alabama. When you have a guy like Denard Robinson with his ability to run the ball, last week's decision to turn him into a pocket passing QB seems like insanity.
- And Illinois? You still can't have nice things.