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Quick Thoughs on Northwestern-Penn State, Losing

The Northwestern Wildcats lost their first game of the year, allowing Penn State to score 22 unanswered to come from behind for a win while getting next to nothing done on offense.

Justin K. Aller - Getty Images

So Northwestern lost a game. I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. But in the half-full nature of this site's tagline, not all is lost. In fact, it's only the one thing that was lost. This conference is still awful, and even if Northwestern plays like they did today, they can still realistically expect to win about half - or slightly more - of the games on their upcoming schedule.

Penn State was super fun, by the way, but we'll talk about that some other time.


  • With that football stuff said: you have to do better than that. You have to win that game, up by two scores in the fourth quarter. Instead, Northwestern's defense got absolutely eviscerated in the last quarter. Zach Zwinek got about three or four yards after first contact every carry, and Matt McGloin dinked-and-dunked Northwestern to a fitting death. I don't think he threw the ball downfield more than ten yards once in the final quarter, but Northwestern couldn't stop it. There was no pressure, and while the coverage was alright, having five guys short, Northwestern couldn't keep all of them from getting the ball.
  • The offense, of course, wasn't too hot either. Only two touchdown drives - the one TD off of Venric Mark's punt return, the other from a quick drive after Penn State muffed a punt.
  • It's already been criticized a bunch, but Northwestern became way too insistent on having Trevor Siemian throw while not varying the game plan. Northwestern was effective on the ground - 96 yards on 18 carries for Kain Colter and Venric Mark, combined - but threw the ball 36 times, all with Siemian. In years past, this would've been a godsend, but Northwestern's running attack this year has been great, while Siemian's 36 passes went for a pretty ghastly 3.8 yards per carry. Colter became too one-dimensional - the joy of having a quarterback who is also a great runner and receiver is, you know, having him throw, but he didn't, which I feel hurt NU quite a bit. There were also some costly drops by receivers that hurt Siemian, but today it didn't seem like having him as the go-to was the answer.
  • The depressing thing is that Northwestern was still given a chance to win this game. The law of averages states that eventually NU was going to lose one of these close games eventually, but it hurts to see it slip away.
  • Possibly the worst thing for NU was Penn State's complete lack of a kicking game due to Sam Ficken's inconsistency thus far this year. Instead of kicking when they got to fourth-and-short, Penn State went for it - and came up with it, over and over again. Six times they went for it on fourth, and five times they were able to keep their drive alive and that led to seven points on a couple of drives instead of three or zero.
  • The longest play of the game? 16 yards. Yeah.

I guess that's all the football stuff I had from the immediate watching of the game. I plan on taking a rewatch sometime to analyze further but enjoy yourselves for now.