Out with Player Grades and in with Three up, Three down, Inside NU's newest postgame evaluation. Rather than handing out grades to the different contributors, we'll give you three players (or position groups) whose stock went up and three players whose performances were disappointing. This time, there might be a few more than three going up, and let’s just say the stock downs aren’t necessarily specific to Northwestern.
Even though this three up/three down isn’t exactly conventional, it wouldn’t feel right to keep Hall from getting solo billing. The junior linebacker has appeared more times on this list than anyone else this year, and he earned it again this week by doing a little bit of everything. Hall’s 2.5 sacks, fumble recovery and interception helped lead Northwestern’s defense to 6 sacks, 5 turnovers, and their first shutout since 2015 (when the Golden Gophers suffered the same fate on the same field).
Hall wasn’t the only junior who had a big day on the defensive end. Hartage also recovered a fumble and made a great read (on an admittedly poor throw) on his first half interception. He not only ran the route for the receiver, but had so much time before the ball got there that he had to hesitate for a beat. As you are almost certainly aware of by now, Minnesota completed just two passes on the game, and Hartage was a big part of the reason why.
The ball carrier’s host of records set this week merits its own section. Jackson moved up to 17th on the all time FBS rushing list, 5th on the Big Ten rushing list, surpassed 5,000 yards for his career, and became only the second Big Ten player to ever rush for 1,000 yards in 4 straight seasons all in one game. The greatest running back in Northwestern history didn’t get into the end zone, but his 166 rushing yards both primed the team for victory this week and set him up for a strong finish in next week’s season finale.
RBs Jeremy Larkin, John Moten IV, Corey Acker, Auston Anderson, Jelani Roberts, Jesse Brown, Chad Hanaoka, Alex Bousky
Each of these players had at least a carry and all of them gained yards. Acker and Roberts scored their first career touchdowns. Larkin added on to a great season, while Brown reminded us that there are two freshman running backs to be excited about. Moten returned from a nagging injury and picked up a first down. Bousky moved the chains too (on the first carry of his career), and Anderson, who got to see some carries for the first time this year, did so as well. Hanaoka, finishing his Northwestern career alongside Anderson and Jackson, saw field action for the first time since the Outback Bowl. It was a good day for the running back room overall (I know Roberts isn’t technically a running back...sue me), with the three seniors wrapping up their home careers in style while the younger generation showcased some of their potential.
I’ve already mentioned the senior running backs, but it seemed like almost every Wildcat senior had a big moment in their final home game. Kyle Queiro had a late interception. Godwin Igwebuike flew a bit under the radar but finished the game as strong as anyone with 2 passes defended and two key open-field tackles. Hunter Niswander dropped two punts inside the 20 and nailed a 73-yard bomb. Marcus McShepard provided good coverage, as did fellow former offensive player Parrker Westphal when he got in late. Warren Long was all over the field, snagging a tackle for loss, and Tyler Lancaster and Brad North owned the trenches, along with Graham Bullmore when he rotated in. Macan Wilson has made a catch in every game this season, a streak that continued yesterday. And Matt Alviti, though he didn’t get the chance to throw, had his moment on the field as well. Thank you to each and every senior.
Honorable mention: Every other player and coach for Northwestern.
I don’t see the need to beat a dead horse here. They lost 39-0.
Ok, maybe I’ll beat it just a bit more.
Today's Minnesota offensive performance might be the worst nautical disaster since the Spanish Armada.— Inside NU (@insidenu) November 18, 2017
haven't seen a boat fail this badly on land since 1795https://t.co/6MAguVZ5sm— ALLEZ GOFFIN (@tristanjung0) November 18, 2017
Minnesota is down 39-0 with 9 minutes left in the fourth. This is the worst defeat of a team of rowing vessels since the Ottomans lost the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. https://t.co/NVidGvXsoR— Inside NU (@insidenu) November 18, 2017
IT’S HAT WEEK, BABY
Honorable mention: Inside NU’s budget if/when a California bowl game comes to fruition.