The countdown is getting smaller and it appears we've arrived. And with only one day left, we have a pretty clear idea what's going to happen tomorrow in the game between Dan Persa and the Northwestern Wildcats and those silly Boston College Eagles, don't we? (looks around) (sees general disagreement) (panics) (panics) (panics)
WHAT'S HAPPENING WHO AM I STOP EVERYTHING MAKE IT ALL STOP.
After the jump, experts who know everything say what they think will happen - the comments section, however, is your hood.
In the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."
What we know is that Dan Persa is 10 months into his rehab from a torn achilles, an injury that typically takes 12-14 months to recovery from. We don't know how effective he'll be, nor how effective his replacement Kain Colter will be.
But I'm optimistic because I think that given an entire preseason to game plan, we'll be prepared for this game, no matter who is taking snaps. The team will know who they're going into battle with; BC won't know who's our starting quarterback until we take the field. That is to say, I think BC will have to deal with a lot more unknown unknowns than we will. (I personally would love to see Fitz trot out both Persa and Colter in that first series, just to confuse everybody. If Fitz has a sense of humor, which he assuredly does not, he'd send Watkins out there, too, just for kicks. Or even better, Fitz will call for a Wildcat formation with Venric Mark taking the snap and none of those QBs out there.) Not to mention, BC's secondary is dinged up.
Hopefully Persa is ready to go, but given what we saw out of Colter in the TicketCity Bowl, I'm comfortable with him out there. I think our defense is energized, and given that we're so laden with seniors, I'm confident they'll hold up a lot better than last year.
No doubt, BC will be a tough opener, but we have the tools to win; it'll be all about executing and keeping our heads.
Prediction: NU 24, BC 20.
So, Dan Persa, Kain Colter, who knows.
This game is alarmingly evenly matched. It was an evenly matched game with both teams at full strength; then X out one team's starting QB and the others' starting running back and entire secondary. These teams are even self-mutilating accordingly.
Allow me to echo what I said on the podcast and Wildcat Report (SURPRISE!). I can't say anything about the QB's, because I don't know anything. I feel Kain Colter will be vastly improved with an extra year and can give an extra gear to NU's offense, I think Persa's arm - even without the threat of the run - can rip apart a painfully weak BC secondary. Persa won't need to run and Colter will have to throw - he's not running against Luke Kuechly and company. No offense to Trumpy and Schmidt, giving them the ball will be suicide. We have talent at QB and a spectacular wide receiving corps, it's time to show it.
I feel NU has a few things that are awesome going for it: BC has a great running back but no QB play whatsoever, which is bad, because NU is decidedly awful against the run, but they're switching from a system predicated on lots of running with a fullback to a passing system under their new OC - not to mention major graduations on the offensive line. (remember last year, teams with fullbacks like Illinois ran all over Northwestern, as did teams with running quarterbacks, BC doesn't have one.) Andre Williams will maim, but not kill Northwestern, and Rettig will keep NU in the game.
It's going to be close, it's going to be scary, and we won't enjoy it. But I still think it's a win, because although BC is a good team - with the Persa situation shaky, I'm going to say BC is a better football team than NU - Northwestern is a team perfectly tailored to put up points against a stingy defense and hold BC juuuuust enough offense. That said, DAN PERSA IS STILL QUESTIONABLE.
Score: NU 20, BC 14
I alluded to this on the podcast, but I don't like Northwestern's chances here. BC's tough front seven is a bad match-up for a run first, run second QB like Colter, and I expect NU to come out trying to establish the run in the early going as they are so often prone to do. That's not going to work and BC will probably jump out to an early lead.
The good news is that BC's secondary is dinged up and even Persa on one leg or Colter may be able to lead a comeback effort, but I don't think it will be quite enough. NU's defense against a strong running team like BC worries me a lot. Their best bet is if Chase Rettig hasn't improved since last year and throws some untimely interceptions.
Obviously hope I'm wrong:
BC 31, Northwestern 24