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Who’s most likely to “pull a Northwestern” in 2019?

I refer, of course, to losing all their non-conference games (and sure, maybe appearing in the conference championship).

Big Ten Championship - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You may not have heard, but in Year of Our Lord 2018, my Northwestern Wildcats played non-conference football games against the Duke Blue Devils, Akron Zips, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

I know, right? Me neither.

But now what I’m going to tell you—and brace yourself, because it’s a big one—is even more ridiculous: Northwestern lost to ALL THREE of those teams!

Absurd, isn’t it?!

Now that you’ve really been stunned, you may have forgotten that the very same Northwestern team to pull that colossal boner...went 6-0 against the Big Ten West, including road wins at the Iowa Hawkeyes and Purdue Boilermakers (it’s easier than it sounds, we swear), and finished the conference season 8-1, earning a date with Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship!

No idea what happened next. Beat Utah.

Anyways, the point is, Northwestern lost all three of their non-conference games in 2018 but still won enough conference games to win the Big Ten West Division! [At this point it’s worth noting in very beezer-ish tones that “That’s because non-conference games have no bearing on division results!” He is correct, but that’s no fun. STOP RUINING OTE, LAWYERS.]

I have decided to call this accomplishment—going 0-3 in non-conference play but appearing in the conference title game—“pulling a Northwestern.” And now I want to figure out who’s going to do it next year!

Pretty simple premise, no?

The Candidates:

Minnesota Golden Gophers


vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Thursday, Aug. 29)
at Fresno State Bulldogs (Saturday, Sept. 7)
vs. Georgia Southern Eagles (Saturday, Sept. 14)

Likelihood of 0-3: 5%. Don’t sit there and act like a loss to an FCS team from a Dakota is so incomprehensible, Gophers fans. In reality, though, it’s not inconceivable that the Gophers’ two other non-conference opponents (11-win Fresno State and 10-win Southern, both bowl winners in 2018) knock the Gophers runner-runner into a losing record.

Likelihood of B1G Championship: 10%. I mean, sure! Conceivably, the Gophers could go 5-4 and some Big XII North shenanigan tiebreakers could vault them into a date with the East in Indy. Their crossovers (at Rutgers, home with Maryland and Penn State) are not world-beaters, and getting wisconsin at home could give the Boat-Rowers a shot.

Northwestern Wildcats - The OG


at Stanford Cardinal (Saturday, Aug. 31)
vs. UNLV Rebels (Saturday, Sept. 14)
vs. UMass Minutemen (Saturday, Nov. 16)

Likelihood of 0-3: God, I am so fucking mad now that I’ve remembered that Northwestern has to play a November home game against fucking UMass. There are going to be 10 people at that game. Fuck. (I don’t know—call it 5% this happens.)

Likelihood of B1G Championship: 5%. MSU-at wisconsin-at Nebraska-BYE-Ohio State on a Friday is a brutal way to open the ‘Cats Big Ten account. I think the ‘Cats are out of the hunt by the time Iowa comes to Ryan Field with dreams of a Big Ten West crown in their eyes. Be a shame if something happened to those.

Purdue Boilermakers


at Nevada Wolf Pack (Saturday, Aug. 31)
vs. Vanderbilt Commodores (Saturday, Sept. 7)
vs. TCU Horned Frogs (Saturday, Sept. 14)

Likelihood of 0-3: 8%. I’ll give the Boilers 60% on the road at Nevada, 60% at home against Vandy, and 50% at home against TCU. That’s 8% that they go 0-3. Tell me I’m wrong.*
*About the math.

Likelihood of B1G Championship: 15%. At Penn State, Maryland, and Indiana? That’s a decent 2-1 shot at the Big Ten, and why wouldn’t that put Purdue in the hunt for a 6-3 tie with some wacky breakers? Wouldn’t Purdue be the logical successor to What-the-Fuck Northwestern in the Big Ten title game? Vote Boilers!

Nebraska Cornhuskers


vs. South Alabama Jaguars (Saturday, Aug. 31)
at Colorado Buffaloes (Saturday, Sept. 7)
vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (Saturday, Sept. 14)

Likelihood of 0-3: 2%. Yeah, that’s a substantial bummer and all...but crazier things have happened, I suppose?

Likelihood of B1G Championship: You know, those odds for the above are so low that we best not discuss it, hmm?

Illinois Fighting Illini


vs. Akron Zips (Saturday, Aug. 31)
at UConn Huskies (Saturday, Sept. 7)
vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (Saturday, Sept. 14)

Likelihood of 0-3: 5%. I mean, Akron and Eastern both did it in 2018, I grant! But even despite Illinois’ terribleness, do you really see them not winning at UConn?

Likelihood of B1G Championship: 5%. Maybe the Lovie Smith rebuild took, as I’m sure we all predicted, exactly 2.25 seasons to really hit its stride, and starting in Champaign against Nebraska on 9/28, Illinois revs to life. Maybe.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights


vs. UMass Minutemen (Friday, Aug. 30)
vs. Boston College Eagles (Saturday, Sept. 21)
vs. Liberty Flames (Saturday, Oct. 26)

Likelihood of 0-3: 20%. I’m not putting it past Rutgers to lose to the offense of UMass, the defense of Boston College, or the withering PAC money of Liberty. Are you?

Likelihood of B1G Championship: lol


Who’s most likely to "pull a Northwestern" in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (32 votes)
  • 16%
    Northwestern, of course
    (34 votes)
  • 7%
    (15 votes)
  • 34%
    (72 votes)
  • 1%
    (4 votes)
  • 21%
    Holy shit, Rutgers could actually go 0-3 in the non-conference
    (44 votes)
  • 3%
    Someone else (comments)
    (8 votes)
209 votes total Vote Now