These two schools haggled over who has better journalistic presence in America and then took that fierce literary argument to the field, combining to play the best bowl of the young postseason. The Alamo was full of long touchdowns, late game drama, and way too many shots of Chase Daniel's family (note to ESPN: Isn't that nice, Chase Daniel has a family. I understand. You could have shown this with 5 camera shots, not 159. If there was a pregame puff piece too than woah, overdone).
Good Northwestern Defensive Coaching!
I am sure that someone on the Mizz or NW sidelines can explain this a little better than I can, but strategically, each sideline made adjustments before and during the game that altered the course of the game. Northwestern came out in a tightly packed defense which showed no respect for Chase Daniel's ability to complete long passes. Each time a Mizz receiver would catch a 5-7 yard pass, he would be hit quickly by numerous defenders, limiting the YAC and testing the patience of Daniel. The 2007 Big 12 Player of the Year rewarded good Northwestern defensive plans by throwing a couple of game changing picks in the 2nd half.
But there is always a counterpunch to good defense and Mizz had the skill and variety of offensive weapons to carry it out. Seeing that NW was controlling the middle of the field, the Tiger offensive coaches decided to hammer the outer portion of the field with quick screens and a steady stream of reverses. Jeremy Maclin, he of 10.2 hundred meter speed, changed the game with his 8 and 9 yard runs, and also allowed the Tigers to take the ball out of the inaccurate Daniel's hands.
Good Northwestern Offensive Coaching!
It helps your ball control offense when CJ Bacher throws for 304 yards and completes almost every single 6 yard slant perfectly. It also helps when your future NFL scatback returns from a horrific hand/wrist wound that doctors compared to a car crash injury. But what really helps is that you understand how to tailor your system to the opposition successfully. Pat Fitzgerald understood that Mizz had one of the worst pass defenses in America and exploited it early with underneath throws early and deep passes late. I decided not to call out the Missouri secondary players specfically, but I get the feeling that giving up three long touchdown passes to a quick pass offense pretty much says it all.
Of course Mizz counterpunched again (note: The Tigers were the overwhelming favorite here, but played from behind the whole game, constantly changing their strategy to faciliate a comeback. That says a lot of good things about Pat Fitzgerald and the spirit of this Wildcat bunch). The Mizz defensive ends split a little wider and beat the young offensive linemen constantly in the 2nd half, smacking Bacher and forcing an overtime fumble that essentially ended the game. The linebackers began crashing the middle and stuffed the NW run game in the 2nd half.
Chase Coffman: Best hands in CFB? Maybe. Caught everything Monday.
Corey Wootton: Pulled up late with injury and did it while being steps from sacking Daniel. Dominated the game with an interception, sack, and constant presence in the backfield.
Bacher: Outplayed Daniel, even while the announcers were praising the Mizz QB for being 2nd only to Jesus. Beat Daniel in the "who can throw the prettier six yard slant/out route" competition.
Sean Weatherspoon: Went nuts against NW with 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 13 tackles. Did everything except propose to a cheerleader.
Northwestern Receivers: Save one drop by Brewer, this no name group was unbelievable. Tough endzone grabs, low thrown slant routes...everything ended up in their hands.