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Know Thy Enemy: Northwestern vs Nebraska - They're Smart But Can't Run Fast

This game will be kind of like this but a different color uniform.
This game will be kind of like this but a different color uniform.

This week, the Northwestern Wildcats. We're joined by Rodger Sherman from the SB Nation Northwestern site Sippin' on Purple in our quest to learn more about that team from Evanston, Illinois. 

I find myself surprised at how poorly the Wildcats are doing this year. Coming in, I thought they might have one of the better teams in the conference this year... what was I thinking? 

Northwestern has had a tough year. The win last week against Indiana went very well for the Wildcats. Do you see this game as Northwestern making progress or was it just a good day against a poor team?

The thing about Northwestern's season is that despite losing five straight games - when was the last time y'all did that? - none of them were blowouts. NU was leading undefeated Illinois by 18, beating undefeated Michigan at the half, ran off 17 straight points to have it at 17-17 against Iowa before losing momentum, and was within 10 of Penn State the whole game. A team that plays four Big Ten teams - three of them ranked - tight isn't making progress by running locomotive on Indiana. Indiana sucks quite violently and it wasn't surprising to see NU put up 59 before taking their feet off the gas.

Will Pat Fitzgerald coach at NW until he retires? Is there any point at which he'll be asked to leave other than if he violates the law?

Nobody loves any inanimate object as much as Pat Fitzgerald loves NW NU, except maybe Brick towards lamp. Northwestern was the only major school to give him a look as a player, he ended up winning multiple defensive player of the year awards in back-to-back years, and his devotion to the school has attained nearly creepy levels.

While many coaches assert how passionate they are about the school, Fitz lives it, and it's scary to watch. NU reciprocates, because he's like the best thing ever. He might leave the school by accident Saturday when his intensity and Bo Pelini's intensity simultaneously converge in the post-game handshake, causing an enormous wormhole to suck in most of the Lincoln metropolitan area. ("Metropolitan area" used generously.)

In previewing the Wildcats this season, it appeared that they were poised to have a pretty good season. Obviously that hasn't happened. What's up with that?

Like I said, the games haven't been bad. The results just haven't showed up. More to the point though, Northwestern's defense is worse than the majority of lethal diseases, including the croup. The offense has been able to put up points, but the secondary has made Nathan Scheelhaase look like he's good at throwing things to people with his arms.

Offense and defense - who are the playmakers?

Offense: Dan Persa is unrealistically good at quarterback - he's completing 75.5 percent of his passes, and that's without playing any non-conference games - and Kain Colter has been dynamic as a spell QB as well as a surprisingly good wide receiver/running back to throw you punks off. Jeremy Ebert and Drake Dunsmore are the primary targets, and try tackling Drake Dunsmore and you shall fail.

Defense: n/a


Nebraska, 49, Northwestern, 34. We'll scare you about being able to score points against a phenomenal defense, but hah stopping you not so much.