Soon, Northwestern will not be allowed to play FCS teams, and, let's face it, deep down inside, you will miss it. You will miss the days when you could wake up knowing that Northwestern was almost guaranteed a victory, and in fact shelled out some serious cash to play a team that wasn't allowed to have as many players at home. (Note: I know Northwestern once lost to New Hampshire. This was before my time.)
That day is coming in the near future, so for now, let's soak up the sheer joy of NU racking up points, regardless of the competition.(Oh, and if this game is modestly close, we're gonna flip.)
Tryina go 4-0!
No. 16 Northwestern Wildcats (3-0) vs. Maine Black Bears (3-0)
Location: Ryan Field, Evanston, Il.
Game time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, 2:30 p.m. Northwestern time
TV: Big Ten Network
Announcers: Josh Lewin, J Leman, Antwaan Randle-El
Radio: ESPN1000 (Dave Eanet, Ted Albrecht)
Game forecast: 66 degrees, partly cloudy, zero percent chance of precipitation, 12 mph win
Odds: Northwestern -28
Rankings: Northwestern 18 in AP poll, 16 in coaches poll, Maine No. 25 in FCS poll
What this means to each team
Northwestern: Same thing we said last week: get in, get out, don't get injured. The Wildcats are probably looking forward to Oct. 5, when they play Ohio State, as well they should be, but they do need to come up with a win today to remain undefeated and host College Gameday when that happens.
We probably won't see the full arsenal -- Venric Mark is still listed as "questionable" which means he won't play, and Northwestern was milquetoast last week against Western Michigan even though that game remained relatively competitive until the second quarter. That game was worrisome to NU fans considering the Wildcats were favored by roughly 30 but only won by 21 and were clearly struggling offensively at the beginning of the game, so it would be nice if the Cats put some distance between themselves and their opponents right quick.
Senior Marcus Wasilewski serves as an intriguing dual-threat QB for the Black Bears, something that's troubled the Wildcats in the past and something they haven't faced. They'll need to stop him, so that's something to watch for.
Maine: I don't think anybody would deny that this would count as the biggest win in Maine history. Sure, they got a win over an FBS school earlier this year by beating UMass 24-14, but UMass barely counts as an FBS school. The Black Bears are a very solid FCS team, peeking into the rankings this week, but they wouldn't be expected to compete with a team that's also in the rankings, but a level higher on the college football ladder. Methinks this would be a strong effort for the Mainiacs if they just kept it close.
Northwestern injury report: Venric Mark (questionable) Jaylen Prater (out)