2016 was a weird football season for the Northwestern Wildcats. A September record best left forgotten (1-3), then a vastly better October record (3-1), and a so-so November (2-2) followed by bowl win against the Pittsburgh Panthers left the ‘Cats with a 7-6 record. Can the ‘Cats improve on 2016? Members of the Jury, MNWildcat and LincolnParkWildcat will argue in favor of the Wildcats.
I. Case History/Opening Statement
A. Case History
As stated above, Northwestern had a weird season. We had two bullshit non-con losses, and yet almost defeated Ohio State in the ‘Shoe. We had satisfying victories over MSU and Iowa, yet lost to Nebraska. The Land of Lincoln Trophy remains safely in Evanston. Northwestern attained its third-ever bowl win and was only one of three B1G teams to win a game last year.
B. Opening Statement
LPW: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I think the Wildcats will build on last year’s record and will be in the upper half of the West and go bowling again.
MNW: Yo, dipshits!
[I was never good at this lawyering thing.]
‘Cats gonna be decent and could even be solidly ensconced as the second-best team in the West. Lots of pieces are returning, including backfield talent and a shutdown secondary, and a friendly conference schedule means 7-2 in the Big Ten and 10-2 overall are within the realm of possibility. They’ve got question marks in the trenches, as always, but that’s never stopped Northwestern before.
Except when it has.
II. Discovery/Presentation of Proofs
- Northwestern Basketball 2016-17 Recap, because it’s never too soon to be reminded that Northwestern basketball made the NCAA Tournament.
- Pat Fitzgerald agrees to a ten-year contract extension
- Northwestern 2017 Cocktail Party Preview
- Can Clayton Thorson and Justin Jackson carry the ‘Cats offense?
- Teams I Want Northwestern to Beat, Ranked
- Northwestern, Pat Fitzgerald, and Recruiting
- Northwestern Traditions from a non-alumnus perspective
- Stability, Pat Fitzgerald, and the Rose Bowl
- The return of bend-don’t-break defense in Evanston
- Northwestern 2017 Record Predictions
Normally you would make a “look at all the Northwestern writers!” joke here, but we’re just very good at delivering you all the hottest and freshest Northwestern takes. Eat your heart out, Deadspin.
III. What We Can Learn from Pop Culture
IV. Closing Statement
A: LPW: I believe there’s every reason the Cats will challenge for a spot in the top half of the B1G West. QB Clayton Thorson is back, and one of his prime targets is Flynn Nagel, replacing Austin Carr. Justin Jackson is back for his senior season, and let’s talk about him for a sec. He currently has 4,129 current yards in three seasons, and quickly shoot past Damien Anderson’s 4,485 to become Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher. If Justin Jackson gets 1,461 yards this fall, he’ll surpass two time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin and end up as the Big Ten’s #2 all-time leading rusher behind Ron Dayne. Last year he had 1524 total yards, so it’s completely doable. I think our balanced offense with Thorson coming into his stride and Justin Jackson getting the yards will keep be a tough job for opposing defenses.
Defensively, our front seven on paper should be better than last year, and we lose Anthony Walker in the linebacking corps. Our secondary could be one of the best in the conference.
We’re not playing any stupid fucking lower division teams this year, and OC Mick McCall and OL Coach Adam Cushing had better have fucking learned their lessons from last year’s debacles against Illinois State and Western Michigan. There’s no reason why NU can’t be undefeated in the non-con.
We’re going to go to a bowl game and be in the top of the West Division.
B: MNW: Well, Pat Fitzgerald has told us that the best five guys on the offensive line will play, so that means when this team gives up 6 sacks to Duke in Week 2, it’s just straight downhill sledding towards “we’re fucked, aren’t we?” When there is competent play in the trenches, Justin Jackson and Clayton Thorson are really good, fuckheads of the jury.
Expect more of last year’s results from the offense (perhaps minus some of the Austin Carr amazingness), especially with the emergence of John Moten IV. Don’t expect anything out of special teams, as Solomon Vault is hurt or dead or something, Hunter Niswander is mediocrity defined, and we don’t know who’s kicking the ball. Expect a bit of regression from the defense, as teams like wisconsin are built to push this front seven around, but throwing the ball against Northwestern could be dangerous, as Godwin Igwebuike, Keith Watkins II, Kyle Queiro, Montre Hartage, and the rest of the secondary are good. Don’t expect a loss to an FCS team, because Northwestern doesn’t play one this year. Expect Victory, if you’re Gary Barnett and/or slapping a piece of wood before running onto Ryan Field. Expect a bowl game.
This is a slightly-above average Big Ten team on paper, with a world of potential to impress or let us down in a big way. But Indy’s within our reach.
There you have it. Townie’s moment of pure insanity (or genius trolling/jinxing) aside, we’re all pretty comfortable with the idea that Northwestern is an above-average team in the West...barely.
Northwestern Verdict: 8-4 (5-4)
But don’t take our word for it. In 2017 Iowa will go...
This poll is closed
4-8 or worse