Our bloggers all correctly picked a Northwestern victory last week. This week, they all agree again.
Kevin Trahan, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 45, South Dakota 13 — It’s tough to judge the score of this game, because NU could probably score well over 60 if Pat Fitzgerald wanted to. NU will experiment with both of its quarterbacks, and get its backups some playing time. South Dakota’s run defense is atrocious, so the Wildcats will get a big day from Mike Trumpy, helping him gain confidence heading into the Big Ten season. This one will be a yawner, but it will be interesting to get a look at some of NU’s younger faces.
Chris Johnson, Inside Northwestern: Northwestern 39, South Dakota 17 — The talent disparity here is huge. That’s a given. What’s worth remembering is that South Dakota beat Minnesota two years ago. That was when USD quarterback Dante Warren went HAM on the Gophers with five touchdowns. Minnesota won three games that season. FCS upsets require a confluence of favorable factors to overcome the physical and talent gap -- most importantly, an experienced quarterback is paramount. We saw it when Amante Edwards keyed Appalachian State’s takedown in Ann Arbor. South Dakota is a team in transition, with a young offensive line and quarterback. The Coyotes have beaten FBS teams before, but they are in no position to reprise their penchant for pluckiness in Evanston this weekend. Colter and Mark will run all over their feeble front seven. Enough said.
Chris Emma, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 45, South Dakota 3 — My oh my, is this ever what the doctor ordered. Northwestern is 3-0 but hasn’t played like its perfect record. What the Wildcats need is a cupcake to pound around. Well look at that, here comes South Dakota! NU will find its groove on offense and its defense will keep on keepin’ on. The only ‘Cat who will have a down game is Lou Groza candidate Jeff Budzien, who will hit just one field goal. In the end, Northwestern will stay perfect in a rout of the Coyotes.
Jonathan Hodges, Hail To Purple: Northwestern 49, South Dakota 6 — Northwestern's lines have dominated the past two games and I expect that they will do that and more against this FCS opponent. Fitz is employing various methods to keep this team focused, like putting starting spots and playing time up for grabs and focusing on executing to this own team's level and not that of their opponent, and that should help NU go out and take care of business. Expect a lot of younger players to get in the game as NU finishes off non-conference play with a solid victory.
Danny Moran, NBN Sports: Northwestern 35, South Dakota 10 — This is the reward for starting the season with three BCS conference opponents. Siemian and Colter will continue their attack as they alternate picking apart the South Dakota defense. And the Wildcats need to stay as healthy as possible with Big Ten season coming up.
Jon Davis, Northwestern Highlights: Northwestern 38, South Dakota 13 — It’s hard to predict exactly how this will go, but I get the sense we may see a 3 score first quarter from NU with most of the scoring done in the first half. Lots of rushing yards. The defense will look impressive, though they may give up one big trick play.
Josh Walfish, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 56 South Dakota 17 — This game won’t be close as the offense finally finds the end zone like it did in Syracuse and the defense plays as well as it has in the last two weeks. Venric Mark, Mike Trumpy, Treyvon Green and Kain Colter all run for more than 50 yards and we will see Zach Oliver play his first collegiate football game.
Colin Becht, The Daily Northwestern: Northwestern 49, South Dakota 13 — Don’t overthink this one. Barring Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian getting in a pregame fight in the locker room and a Rocky II-style double knockout, Venric Mark being so amazed by the separation he gets on the opening kickoff that he forgets to stop and crashes into the goalposts, AND NFL replacement officials taking the field Saturday and ruining NU’s wide receivers with a series of offensive pass interference calls that lead them to refuse to play the second half, Northwestern should comfortably win this one. Venric Mark and Mike Trumpy easily top 100 yards. Colter and Siemian trade off dissecting the Coyotes’ secondary. NU’s starters leave the game after the first drive of the second half, and even the backups manage to more than hold their own. This is a South Dakota team that lost to Montana and didn’t pull away from Colgate until the fourth quarter. If Saturday isn’t an easy win for the Wildcats, it’s a moral defeat.
Nick Medline, PurpleWildcats.com: Northwestern 42, South Dakota 7 — Someone has to make some sort of bold prediction, right? Here it is: Venric Mark, Mike Trumpy, and Kain Colter all run for more than 100 yards. Less surprising: Fitz and Hank explore the entirety of their depth chart after seizing a five-score lead by halftime.
Jay Sharman, Lake The Posts: Northwestern 37, South Dakota 13 — Careful folks. I've got that feeling. That feeling we are going to take care of business and play our best game to date. I'm feeling a dominating rushing game, a continued great run defense and an ability to finish red zone appearances with TD after TD. Yes, we lost to UNH in '06, but since then we've taken care of business against every FCS team we've played - bigtime. Since that fateful home opener, we've had our top four margin of victories -34, 33,27,26 - and a fifth, a 21-point win that was much more dominating than the score (Eastern Illinois '11). This match-up bodes well for us. A weak passing team and a pourous rush defense. Smile. If you're in to numerology I'll go for the third defensive strike with lucky 13 points.