Hello readers, welcome to what two college freshman who are absolutely obsessed with NCAA Football do what they’re bored. We’ve decided to set up a little competition for ourselves, and we will be seeing who can have the better season with Northwestern in an absurdly difficult NCAA Football 13/14 dynasty mode.
Mac owns NCAA 13, and as such, he will be playing with the 2012 Northwestern roster. Dan owns NCAA 14, which means he’ll be playing with the 2013 team. As you all know, the ‘12 squad went 10-3, while the ‘13 edition of the Wildcats finished 5-7 after a promising 4-0 start, so Mac will have the slight advantage, which is needed, because Dan is far better at the game.
For those familiar with the game and interested on how difficult we’ve tried to make it for ourselves, these are the sliders that we’re used by both of us (sliders created by Daniel, who may or may not have played over 40 seasons worth of dynasty mode on this game, and has made programs like Idaho three-time defending champions).
QB Accuracy - 5
Pass Blocking - 15
WR Catching - 15
RB Ability - 15
Run Blocking - 10
Pass Coverage - 40
Interceptions - 35
Rush Defense - 30
Tackling - 30
FG Power - 35
FG Accuracy - 25
Punt Power - 50
Punt Accuracy - 50
Kickoff Power - 50
QB Accuracy - 15
Pass Blocking - 70
WR Catching - 60
RB Ability - 95
Run Blocking - 45
Pass Coverage - 85
Interceptions - 40
Rush Defense - 100
Tackling - 55
FG Power - 50
FG Accuracy - 50
Punt Power - 50
Punt Accuracy - 100
Kickoff Power - 50
In addition to these sliders, we are playing the game on Heisman difficulty, which is the highest of the four difficulties that the game offers.
2012 Northwestern (Mac’s Team)
Game 1: @ Syracuse
Final Score: W, 37-34 (2OT)
This game was a doozy for me from the get-go. I began the game with a quick three-and-out, and the Orange swiftly followed up with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Nassib to running back Jerome Smith. Syracuse quickly went up 14-0 not long after on another Smith TD.
Side note: Smith was an absolute monster to face. The junior rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on only 21 carries! This included two carries of 20+ yards. Demoralizing stuff.
Now back to the action. We desperately needed a score. A third down heave from Kain Colter to Pierre Youngblood-Ary gave us the score we were looking for, as the junior QB connected with the redshirt freshman WR to make it a one score game.
Not long after, Smith then scampered in from 29 yards out to put ‘Cuse up 21-7 with 21 seconds left in the first half. Gross.
But momentum swung again! As the clock hit zero, Colter threw up a desperation heave, this time connecting with Kyle Prater for yet another touchdown pass. My ‘Cats trailed by just one touchdown at half.
The third quarter was uneventful, as a 41-yard field goal by Syracuse’s Ross Krautman were the only points scored.
The fourth quarter is where our true comeback began. Down 10 points, Colter connected with Rashad Lawrence for a 39-yard touchdown. But when Syracuse converted a late first down, even the dollar-store Willie lookalike seemed to lose hope.
But seriously, is Willie okay?
Then, more heroics. Our defense forced a punt, handing the ball back to Colter and the ‘Cats with just under two minutes to go. Colter then drove down the field, and while they were unable to punch it in, a 22-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien knotted the game at 24 with 15 seconds left.
To overtime we go! The Orange won the toss, and elected to play defense. Colter yet again reigned supreme, connecting with superback Evan Watkins for a 12-yard touchdown, giving NU their first lead of the game at 31-24.
‘Cuse then scored on their first play of overtime, after a failed blitz attempt left wide receiver Jarrod West wide open for a score.
Syracuse only managed a field goal the next possession, leaving the door slightly ajar for Colter & Co. Down 34-31 in 2OT, a slant route by Prater won the game. Final score: 37-34. Ecstasy.
Game 2: vs. Vanderbilt
Final Score: W, 34-21 (OT)
No, that score is not a typo. I legitimately won 34-21 in overtime in one of the strangest games of football I’ve ever witnessed, virtual or otherwise. Let’s jump in.
Skipping straight to the third quarter, my ‘Cats trailed 14-7, but were driving. Then, on an errant throw by Colter that went straight into triple coverage, a Vanderbilt CB (was unable to get his name in postgame) snagged the ball out of midair and took it back 70 yards for the score. Just like that, NU trailed 21-7. What was Colter thinking?
The score remained that way about midway through the fourth, and hope seemed to be fading. Colter and the ‘Cats were handed the ball with zero timeouts and just 3:21 left. But little did they know, the impossible was about to happen.
In just 56 seconds, Colter drove the offense down the field and connected with Youngblood-Ary on a beautiful throw to cut the lead to one touchdown. With 2:25 left on the clock, Vanderbilt now had the ball, and a quick stop by our defense was desperately needed to keep any hopes alive.
The defense delivered, but Vandy still succeeded in draining the clock, as our offense received the ball back with a meager 14 seconds left, positioned on our own 40 yard line. Yet, it seemed as if a miracle was in the cards. Colter completed not one but TWO magnificient throws to Christian Jones, one of which scored the game-tying touchdown with just two seconds left on the game clock.
So to overtime we go AGAIN! Vanderbilt won the toss and elected to defend. That was a mistake. A completion from Colter and a face mask by Vanderbilt led to sophomore running back Treyvon Green punching it in from a yard out, giving us our first lead of the game at 28-21. Commodore ball.
Vanderbilt began their overtime possession with a solid pass completion of 12 yards. But then, following a sack, quarterback Jordan Rodgers threw up an errant pass that landed right in the bread basket of Northwestern corner C.J. Bryant. Bryant, with the thought of Vanderbilt’s pick six echoing in his head, decided to take this one back to the house.
Ballgame. They don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothin’.
2013 Northwestern (Daniel’s Team)
Game 1: @ California
Final Score: W, 43-24
Let’s dive right in. To begin, I marched right down the field and scored a touchdown off a Kain Colter pass to Christian Jones, however, the score remained at 6-0 after I tried to be “analytically forward-thinking” and went for two rather than one.
Our defense was dominant early, led by linebackers Collin Ellis and Damien Proby, and a Jeff Budzien field goal made it 9-0. Unfortunately, I tried to stay true to history and subbed in Trevor Siemian as a part of the two-QB system, who promptly overthrew an open receiver on a fourth down attempt. Siemian finished two-for-seven on pass attempts and did not see the field again.
The two teams traded touchdowns after that, which included this ridiculous score by Kyle Prater.
Colter touchdown scamper had Northwestern poised to go into the half up 23-7... then this happened.
That’s right — a Hail Mary. On the last play of the first half.
Cal scored again in the second half to make it a narrow 23-21 lead for our boys, but from there on out, they dominated the Golden Bears in every aspect of the game, and Colter finished with a final stat line of 18-23 for 209 yards and 2 touchdown passes, as well as an additional 156 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. The lesson, as always: Kain Colter is awesome.
Game 2: vs Syracuse
Final Score: W, 35-27
It was a rainy day in Evanston as two of the best journalism schools in the world, err, I mean, two moderate football teams battled it out.
Quick thing about me: I absolutely despise punting in almost any scenario, as it is a sign of weakness, which is why I tried a fake punt on the fourth play of the game from my own 30 yard line. It didn’t work, and the Orange quickly went up 7-0.
After they forced the ‘Cats into an actual punt on the next drive, things were looking bleak before an excellent punt from Brandon Williams pinned Syracuse inside the five, setting up this safety on the next play for Ellis, who, believe it or not, leads the team with three sacks and has become by far our best defender.
A 13-yard touchdown pass from Colter to Tony Jones put us up 9-7 (I held off on the two-point conversion after last week’s fiasco), and after some back and forth, it looked like we’d be headed into halftime up 19-14 after a 47-yard Joe Budzien field goal, but Nick VanHoose made a great interception in man coverage and Colter found Christian Jones for a touchdown with only six seconds left in the half.
However, the third quarter was an unmitigated disaster, as I gave up a touchdown, failed to a convert a fourth down in my own territory again off of an Austin Carr drop, squandered a second chance off of another VanHoose interception and eventually let the ‘Cuse go in front 27-26 heading into the final quarter.
I responded with a physical touchdown drive, complete with Colter-Venric Mark read options, and punctuated it with a Colter touchdown but another failed two-pointer to give us a 32-27 lead. From there, the ‘Cats forced a three-and-out, held on to the ball for almost the entirety of the remaining quarter to escape with the win.
Standings After Part I: