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Northwestern Media and Blogger Predictions: Week 1

Each week at InsideNU, we'll have a couple preview/prediction features, including picks from a number of people who cover or blog about Northwestern football. Check out the picks from week one.

Kevin Trahan, Inside NorthwesternNorthwestern 35, Syracuse 31:Syracuse jumps out to a two-score lead early, but NU’s offense comes back and surges to regain the lead in the fourth quarter. Colter has a big day both through the air and on the ground and the NU defense makes just enough stops to get the job done.
Chris Johnson, Inside NorthwesternNorthwestern 29, Syracuse 27: NU will get quite a scare from the plucky Orange in their season opener. Kain Colter will get the Cats out to an early lead with two first-half touchdown passes, but Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib will lead a valiant second-half comeback. NU’s secondary will do just enough to hang on, and the game will end with Ibraheim picking off a Nassib pass to kill the Orange’s final drive.
Philip Rossman-Reich, Lake the Posts Northwestern 35, Syracuse 31: The defense will have its ups and downs. At times it will look good and get pressure on Nassib, at times it will look like it did last year (maybe not that bad). We will feel good about it. But Northwestern takes control of the game in the second half behind Kain Colter and Venric Mark’s option game and some well-timed pass plays.
Danny Moran, North By Northwestern/WNUR — Northwestern 30, Syracuse 28: Syracuse takes a 7-0 lead on their first drive but the Northwestern defense then gets comfortable and holds the Orange scoreless for the rest of the half. Kain Colter gets in rhythm in the second quarter after settling for a pair of early field goals, scrambling for two touchdowns. Syracuse then charges in the second half to take a 28-27 lead but a Rashad Lawrence catch and run puts NU into field goal territory and Jeff Budzien boots home the kick as time expires.
Chris Emma, PurpleWildcats.com Northwestern 28, Syracuse 24:Northwestern’s offense will start slow, but the defense -- yes, the defense -- will keep the Wildcats afloat. Kain Colter will settle in and lead the offense for several steady touchdown drives. Orange signal-caller Ryan Nassib will hit a groove in the second half, but the Northwestern defense will hold strong. The Wildcats will start the season with a win, the seventh season-opening win under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Jon Davis, Northwestern Highlights — Northwestern 27, Syracuse 23: A lower scoring game than many people expect. Syracuse’s offense will have some initial success before the NU defense settles in, giving up some yardage but keeping them out of the endzone. It will take a little while for Colter and the offense to do much inside the Orange 30 yard line, but they’ll eventually get it done and control the ball in the 4th quarter to prevent a comeback.
Dan Ryan, The Daily Northwestern Northwestern 34, Syracuse 24:I think Syracuse struggles to move the ball in this one as a result of shaky offensive line play, allowing the Cats to get pressure on Nassib while nagging injuries in the receiving corp hamper their ability to make the big play. NU, meanwhile, has a few early turnovers that keeps things close at halftime but pulls away in the third quarter en route to a comfortable victory.
Josh Walfish, The Daily Northwestern — Northwestern 38, Syracuse 34:The Cats will come out firing on all cylinders and take a 17-point lead into the locker room. The Orange will respond in the second half and cut the lead to 3. The NU defense will  show its inexperience in the secondary, but unlike last season, the Cats’ offense will respond and find a way to close out the game and keep coach Pat Fitzgerald undefeated in season openers.

Colin Becht, The Daily Northwestern — Northwestern 34, Syracuse 31:  Everyone here seems like NU to pull out a tight game, which I think as a whole certainly overvalues the Wildcats. However, I won’t be a contrarian just for the sake of having one, so I’ll go with my gut and say NU pulls out a close one. The matchup plays to both offenses strengths -- Kain Colter’s dual-threat ability and Syracuse’s consistent passing attack -- leading to a back-and-forth affair. NU falls behind early as the Cats settle for two red-zone field goals while Ryan Nassib connects on a pair of touchdowns to Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon, exploiting a weak and raw NU secondary. NU recognizes its best goal line play isn’t to try to pound it in but rather to keep the ball in Colter’s hands and let him make plays. Now scoring touchdowns instead of field goals, the Cats come back, pulling ahead on a gutsy third-and-goal bootleg by Colter with just under two minutes remaining. Much like last season’s opener, the game ends when NU takes advantage of Justin Pugh’s absence and Tyler Scott gets a sack, causing time to expire.

Rohan Nadkarni, The Daily Northwestern — Northwestern 31, Syracuse 24: The NU defense makes enough stops for the Cats to secure a comfortable victory. Kain Colter gives Syracuse problems on the ground and in the air, connecting with many of NU’s talented receivers in the process.

Jonathan Hodges, Hail to Purple — Northwestern 35 - Syracuse 24: Expect a higher scoring affair with Northwestern able to outscore the Orange thanks to their more established offense and slew of skill position weapons.  Although the defense will take its lumps, it will show positive flashes that will help propel the 'Cats to victory.

Jay Sharman, Lake The Posts — Northwestern 37, Syracuse 35: This back and forth affair will come down to the final possession. The Cats go to Kyle Prater for his first catch on third-and-8 inside the 10 and the “D” holds with less than 30 seconds to go. Colter and Mark put up 200+ yards rushing on the day and the NU “D” gets picked apart by Nassib.