Last week of boring picks!
Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
Last week’s sluggish first-quarter start served notice: even teams that have no business being on the same field as Northwestern can hang around if the Wildcats don’t execute well. Western Michigan was the better team for 15 minutes last Saturday, but NU quickly regained control and showed why, entering week 4, it is a legitimate top-20 team with designs on cracking the top-10 if it can beat Ohio State in two weeks.
Before facing the Buckeyes, they’ll need to get past Maine, who at 3-0 and with a solid defense, by FBS standards, could be just as challenging (or slightly moreso) as Western Michigan. Don’t let the Division 1-AA designation fool you. No one simply walks over the Maine Black Bears….right. Northwestern wins comfortably, but for the second straight week, fails to cover a huge spread (- 28 at the time of this writing).
Northwestern 44, Maine 20
Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
I don't think we'll see a repeat of last week's slow start. NU quickly got things together after that start and showed that it was the superior team, and the Wildcats shouldn't have any problem doing that against Maine. It's tough to make too many predictions. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian will play in the first half and each get a series in the second half. Then it will be a lot of Zack Oliver (bold prediction: he'll get to throw a pass!) and maybe even P.J. Carollo (bolder prediction: he'll get to do more than just kneel the ball!).
Northwestern 45, Maine 13
Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Maine's defense has given up an average of 14 points per game this season (though the competition was questionable). So if NU's offense starts off the way it did against Western Michigan, it could spell trouble for the Wildcats. That being said, I don't see them having another let down like the one against the Broncos; I think that performance may have alerted them to the fact that they cannot, in fact, breeze their way to 45 points every week.
But the offense won't be the problem. Maine's quarterback, Marcus Wasilewski, passed for four touchdowns last week and NU's young secondary has had some growing pains early on this season. The Black Bears also have a senior receiver in Derrick Johnson who already has 22 catches on the year and he'll be a challenge to keep under control. Wasilewski and Johnson will connect for a touchdown or two but ultimately I think NU's defensive line will get enough pressure to disrupt the QB and prevent him from developing a rhythm.In the end, this game isn't as much about performance as it is getting out injury-free before The Ohio State University comes to town. Two more weeks.
Northwestern 35, Maine 14
Josh Rosenblat (@JoshMRosenblat)
Northwestern’s week four foe—their pre-bye-week warm-up before Ohio State comes to Evanston—lies in the Maine Black Bears. Like the Wildcats, Maine boasts an undefeated record (3-0) beating Norfolk State, Massachusetts and Bryant, each by double-digit points and just entered the FCS Coaches poll this week at 25. In last week’s game against Western Michigan, Northwestern didn’t record a sack and InsideNU’s Chris Johnson reported that at Wednesday’s practice, the defense showed a lot of more aggressive blitz looks at the line of scrimmage to help pressure the quarterback. It will be important for the front seven to develop more of a downhill attack this week as preparations for Ohio State begin. Linebacker pressure and versatility will be key to slowing the Buckeye’s Braxton Miller and keeping the elusive quarterback contained within the pocket. But, I am getting two weeks ahead of myself.
Northwestern 38, Maine 13
Jon Davis (@NUHighlights)
After looking at expectations on several sites, I'll say 67 degrees at kickoff and some fans on the east side will get a minor sunburn. I don't know. A lot to a little with so many between the tackle runs in the second half that you'll forget there's a game going on and just start daydreaming about October 5th.
Northwestern 41, Maine 17