No. 19 Northwestern is 1-0. Will No. 19 Northwestern become 2-0 with a win over Syracuse? I think it's definitely a possibility!
As always we asked our crew what they think will happen, and as always it's your turn to vote in the poll and talk in the comments -- although I have a funny feeling we're not going to get overrun by 800 Cal fans this time. Although that worked out well in terms of on-the-field stuff, so superstition-wise it would be cool if they did that again.
Let's see what we're thinkin!
Even with Mark and Colter playing in limited action, 'Cats win with a strong performance by Trevor Siemian who shares the wealth among the receiving corps. Meanwhile, the new buddy cop action vehicle known as "Hard Yardage" starring Mike Trumpy and Travyon Green combine for 35 attempts and 180 yards. Stephen Buckley will also have an impressive play in special teams.
This game will be overshadowed by ND and Michigan, but it's still one of the more interesting B1G games of the week. 'Cuse has graduated Ryan Nassib. the QB who torched NU last season, and their offense has taken a step back. However, they have some weapons at receiver and we'll all be watching to see how Dwight White performs as the starter.
I am honestly more concerned about the Wildcat offense. New depth chart out today officially lists both Colter and Mark as "Questionable". Given Fitz' strategic use of injury information in the past, I have no idea how to interpret this. For now I'm going to assume we'll see backup punter Chris Gradone at QB handing the ball off to Doug Diedrick all game long, and I'll take anything else as a pleasant surprise.
I expect NU will let the Orange hang around for a little while, but control the 2nd half on their way to just covering the 12 point spread.
Donovan McNabb is not walking through that door, fans. Dwight Freeney is not walking through that door and Marvin Harrison is not walking through that door, which is a good thing because you might not survive if he did.
I'm not quite sure what to think of Syracuse on either side of the ball; I've only watched one quarter of their game with Penn State, a team on which I also don't have a great handle. I am fairly confident that NU is worse on defense than Penn State, so I think Cuse breaks 20. I am also pretty sure that NU is better on offense than Penn State, even if Colter and Mark are limited, so I think NU gets into the 30s. I think Trevor Siemian takes most of the snaps at quarterback, throwing for 300 yards, even as the Syracuse defense mostly shuts down the running game. The Northwestern defense does something similar but a bit better, holding Syracuse under 100 yards rushing but allowing some throws down the field.
Last year, NU went from offensive shootout in its opener against Syracuse to a defensive grind-it-out win against Vanderbilt in the second game. I expect a similar storyline. Kain Colter says he'll be playing Saturday, which would be good news, but even if he does, I think there will be some rust to shake off and possibly some adjustments needed in the offense, as we sort out whether Venric Mark or Trayvon Greene is the featured back. Defensively, I see NU tightening things up, and I expect Syracuse won't be running its offense at such a tempo that the defense will get carved up as badly.
After my UNBELIEVABLY ACCURATE PREDICTION last week, I've got a lot to live up to.
I think the key here is going to be Dwight White, as I think Syracuse is going to attack him over and over again. I also think Syracuse is not as good at throwing football as Cal is. He gives up a few big plays including a TD, but also has a pick for some redemption in his second game, and Northwestern's strong front seven keeps Drew Allen under pressure and hampers pretty much every other aspect of the Orange's milquetoast offensive gameplan.
Kain Colter and Venric Mark are probably a little bit less ready to play than anybody is willing to admit, but it doesn't matter. With Cuse still oddly intent on shutting down the run game, Trevor Siemian does work through the air, making quick, smart decisions and throwing three touchdowns.
WHO YA GOT?
More from Sippin' On Purple:
- Northwestern vs. Syracuse: What to look for as the Wildcats take on the Orange
- Northwestern injury report vs. Syracuse: Kain Colter, Venric Mark "questionable"
- Northwestern vs. Syracuse football: Sean Keeley talks Drew Allen, Scott Schafer, and Orange-Wildcats
- Fun with Numbers: Week 1
- Q-and-A with John U. Bacon, author of "Fourth and Long"
- Northwestern vs. Syracuse: 7 reasons to hate the Orange