Northwestern vs. Ohio State: Biding the Bye Week

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern has a bye week at the worst possible time, in terms of us getting far too excited about their game against Ohio State next week.

Northwestern is undefeated, ranked No. 17 in the AP poll, and before possibly the biggest game in school history, has a bye week.

GREAT. The anticipation for Ohio State wasn't building enough for all of us, so we just have to deal with an extra week of it.

First off, let us ignore the question of whether or whether not bye weeks hurt teams. There have been studies on this and you can mine them yourselves. But for starters, some facts:

  • Northwestern is 0-4 in bye weeks under Pat Fitzgerald. (How Northwestern has had four bye weeks in seven seasons, I have no clue. How they have two this year, I have less of a clue.) These losses came to No. 23 Michigan State in 2008, No. 7 Michigan State in 2010, No. 24 Illinois in 2011, and Michigan last year.
  • Northwestern last year had to face four teams coming off bye weeks. In these games, they went 3-1, beating Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan State while losing to Nebraska.

Teams don't win games out of bye weeks because they had an extra week to prepare, and they don't lose them because they are sluggish after the extra rest. They win and lose by and large because they are better or worse than the team they're playing against. Look, Fitz has done the research!

Could you argue that since three of Northwestern's four games after bye weeks have ended in catastrophic losses -- a 17-0 lead blown against MSU with two late Michigan State scores and a crucial fake punt conversion, a last-minute Illinois touchdown, and last year's Roy Roundtree moment -- that Northwestern's bye weeks sap the team of their ability to perform in clutch situations? Yes, but this would be one of the dumbest arguments of all time, so I will not engage you in conversation.

If past years are any indication, Northwestern will have light workouts in Evanston, and Pat Fitzgerald will hit the road to do some recruiting. And then they'll come back and prepare for Ohio State just like they prepare for any other team. Most importantly, this provides a week for Venric Mark to become healthy, which he seems to believe he's able to do, via Drake:

Note: if an athlete says something on the internet you don't understand, it is probably a Drake lyric, as brilliantly explained by David Roth.

What will we do during this bye week? Freak the hell out, obviously. The players will do what they need to retain their rhythm and begin Ohio State week in earnest next week, but for us fans, Ohio State week has already started. I obviously intend on watching OSU-Wisconsin Saturday night and pulling violently for the Buckeyes to ensure Ohio State is undefeated and looking as amazing as possible for when Northwestern plays them.

Ten days.

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