After a shaky opener in which they surrendered 38 points, the Wildcats are looking to bounce back against FCS opponent Indiana State. Our staff is looking for a rebound, too, as all but one of our writers and editors incorrectly picked the Wildcats to triumph against MSU.
Ben Chasen: Northwestern 45, Indiana State 10
Hell hath no fury like a Power 5 program facing an FCS team a week after an embarrassing in-conference loss. You might as well call Indiana State the Bishop Sycamores given how grotesque this beatdown is going to be. The Wildcats burst out of the gate, scoring 35 points in the first half, and cruise to an easy victory behind a 300+ yard passing day from Hunter Johnson. The NU defense will still look shaky at points, but will manage to bend, not break against their underpowered opponent, forcing at least two turnovers (including one Brandon Joseph pick) in the process.
Daniel Olinger: Northwestern 28, Indiana State 14
Everyone has this pegged as a “get right” game for the ‘Cats, which naturally means that it will be the exact opposite. No, I don’t think Northwestern is in danger of losing to Indiana State, but everyone assuming that NU rolls an FCS foe without a second thought might be overlooking just how bad this team looked last Friday night. The more likely outcome is a dull, dreary game in which Northwestern is only up around 14-7 midway through the third quarter, with every person and their mothers losing their minds and predicting a 1-11 season before the superior FBS talent eventually takes over. It will show up in the win-loss column all the same, but it’ll feel like a moral defeat at the end of the day. Hooray to us all.
Mac Stone: Northwestern 41, Indiana State 21
I liked what I saw from Northwestern’s offense against the Spartans last week. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write coming into week two. With that in mind, the Wildcats’ defense has some issues they need to fix. I think the ‘Cats will start a bit slow against the Sycamores this week, and they may even give up a touchdown early. Soon enough, however, the difference in talent will begin to show and Northwestern will pull away. This will definitely be a tune-up game for the ‘Cats. If it’s not, I think that could be a very scary sign of where this season is headed.
Didi Jin: Northwestern 52, Indiana State 23
No matter how bad Northwestern’s defense might have looked against Michigan State, the fact remains that on a pure-talent level, it is much, much better than Indiana State, a team that has struggled against a much lower level of competition in the FCS. The offense will come out firing on all cylinders headed by Evan Hull, who will cement himself as Northwestern’s lead back in a 200 yard and two touchdown performance. I think that Jim O’Neil’s unit struggles more than it should, particularly against the rushing attack, which is a strength for Indiana State. However, the defense should be able to find a groove against a susceptible quarterback and force a few turnovers, ultimately leading to a comfortable cover for the home team.
John Olsen: Northwestern 48, Indiana State 7
Honestly, this is the perfect follow-up game to have after being humbled last Friday for the ‘Cats. Indiana State is a much lower level of competition than Sparty, and provide a great chance for this NU team to refocus and get into the win column for the first time this season. Hunter Johnson statistically will have a worse performance on Saturday than he did Week 1, but he won’t necessarily have played worse — he just won’t have a lot of opportunities. The NWO will be dominant, with Evan Hull, Andrew Clair, and Anthony Tyus all benefitting by getting into the endzone. Ryan Hilinski will also take his first snaps as a Wildcat at some point in the second half after NU has a 4 or 5 score lead, and bold prediction: Joe Spivak scores a touchdown.
Jacob Brown: Northwestern 35, Indiana State 14
Hello it’s me again, the only one to correctly predict Northwestern’s loss to Michigan State. My biggest takeaway from that game: Jim O’Neill SEEMS to be bad. The linebackers are slow and his plays didn’t put them in a position to succeed. He couldn’t coach the ‘Cats to set the edge. And NU couldn’t tackle. On the bright side, Hunter looked good! I’d love to see Northwestern use this as an opportunity to experiment with Xander Mueller, Jaylen Rivers and secondary players not named Mitchell or Joseph. Instead, I think we see a boring lineup sloppily beat an opponent that is far inferior in terms of talent. Hunter will throw for two TDs, Andrew Clair will run one in, and Hull bursts for two more. Kubhander misses two FGs just for fun.
Gavin Dorsey: Northwestern 38, Indiana State 10
After an atrocious outing last week, this game seems like the perfect opportunity for Jim O’Neil to prove that the Michigan State game was a fluke. Bad tackling and missed assignments were extremely evident in the ‘Cats first outing, and hopefully it serves as a wakeup call that the team has a lot of work to do if they want to be at the top of the Big Ten West again.
On the offensive side, Hunter Johnson looked certainly serviceable, and should look to build on his solid performance. But while Johnson performed well, Northwestern’s inability to run the ball greatly hindered their chances of winning the game. I’m unsure why Fitz chose to wait until late in the first half to use Evan Hull, but they need to get him involved early and often if they want to control the pace of this game. The ‘Cats bounce back big in this one, as Hull runs rampant for 125 yards and two scores, with HJ adding 200 through the air with two TDs.
Bradley Locker: Northwestern 38, Indiana 17
Northwestern followed up arguably its best season in program history with a dismal performance that initially seemed shocking but, in retrospect, is kind of apropos for a team that's generally been filled with twists and turns. Indiana State got off to a good start, but I don't think the Sycamores are in the realm of the Michigan State Spartans. Knowing that, I could see this game going one of two ways: either the 'Cats win in a landslide, or Pat Fitzgerald's squad will be entrenched in an unexpected battle. I'll go somewhere in between, as I predict Hunter Johnson to look good yet again and Jim O'Neil’s defense to force at least one takeaway. One thing's for sure: if this score comes to fruition, Inside NU alum Rodger Sherman will be beaming.
Andrew Katz: Northwestern 35, Indiana State 21
While we’d all like to pretend last week’s game didn’t happen, it did — on national television, no less — and the Wildcats’ glaring weaknesses were exposed. The defense was a disappointment, and the loss of Cam Porter hurt the run game. Even against an FCS team, with the struggles the ‘Cats displayed against MSU, I do not see Northwestern running away with this one. After giving Kenneth Walker III whatever he wanted, I’m concerned that the Sycamores will muster a rushing attack against the ‘Cats with running back Peterson Kerlegrand and quarterback Michael Haupert. However, I believe Hunter Johnson will connect on a few deep passes to lead NU to a comfortable win against Indiana State.
William Karmin: Northwestern 49, Indiana State 17
HJ gets some experience picking apart a zone defense. The ‘Cats defense delivers a satisfying performance. NU by 32.
Eli Karp: Northwestern 42, Indiana State 16
The line is (at time of writing) Northwestern -26.5. Prepare accordingly.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 34, Indiana State 13
Special Guest Picker Noah Coffman: Northwestern 41, Indiana State 14
After a long week of mulling it over, I have decided to believe In Hunter. He’s going for 500 yards and 5 TDs, Robinson and Kirtz are getting 150 yards each and everybody in purple will rejoice.
(Note: given that Indiana State is 1) an FCS team and 2) bad at defending the run even for an FCS team, what’s really going to happen is that Northwestern is going to run it down their throats all game and play solid, if unspectacular defense that’s more than good enough to win. The first scenario is the only one that’s gonna help me begin to forget about Week 1, though, so that’s the one I’m going with officially.)
Jacob Brown: 1-0
Mac Stone, Ben Chasen, Dan Olinger, Didi Jin, John Olsen, Lia Assimakopoulos, Sarah Effress, Eli Karp, Colin Kruse, Bradley Locker, Andrew Katz, Brian Paget, Nik Mehrotra, Isaac Diaz, Sydney Supple, William Karmin, Jackson Gordwin: 0-1