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Nebraska Football: The Northwestern Q&A With Henry Bushnell Of Inside NU

We talked to Inside NU, the Wildcats SBNation site, to learn more about Nebraska's opponent this Saturday.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

In just over 24 hours, once again your Nebraska Cornhuskers take on a B1G West divisional foe in the Northwestern Wildcats in Memorial Stadium.

These Wildcats have been all over the place this season, and we need to get a better understanding about what the Huskers will be wearing black for. For that, we talked to Henry Bushnell, who is a site manager for the SBNation site Inside NU, which covers Northwestern Athleics very well.

We appreciate Henry and his assistance with our questions, and once again invite you the reader to head over there for pre and post game coverage as well.


1. Well, it’s been a rough past couple of weeks for NW, who opened with 5 straight wins but have gotten blown out of the water the last 2 games. What’s the feeling among the Evanston masses coming into this game?

There's really not much confidence at all among *NU fans. They came to terms with the Michigan loss, rationalizing it as an opponent that was out of *NU's league. But the Iowa loss was crushing. The Big Ten West race is over. So *NU is in a weird spot. Barring a complete collapse, *NU will make a bowl. But there's not much to play for beyond that, other than a potentially slightly more prestigious bowl. So fans are pretty down on the coaching staff at the moment, especially offensive coordinator Mick McCall.

2. Clayton Thorson is the QB for the Wildcats, and it seems not a lot of folks have too much patience with him. That being said, he’s due for 300 yards because Nebraska’s Pass D can let that happen (hello Mitch Leidner). What say you about Thorson?

I actually think fans have plenty of patience with Thorson. He's a redshirt freshman after all. But that doesn't mean there haven't been frustrations. There've been plenty. The dilemma the fan base, and we as a staff, are currently sorting through is where the blame lies for the offensive ineptitude. Thorson hasn't been great with his reads, and looks like... well, like a freshman. But he hasn't been helped by a shaky offensive line, a really poor group of wideouts, a suspect scheme and playcalling.

3. Justin Jackson is no joke at Running Back, however. It does seem as how he goes, the team goes. With the way Nebraska can stop the run, is there worry about Jackson being shut down and the NW Offense being shut out of it’s biggest playmaker?

Yes. That's exactly what has happened the last two weeks. Jackson is great, and he's often good enough to evade defenders flying at him in the backfield, of which there have been many. But Northwestern's offense has become so predictable, and there are so many issues up front that even Jackson hasn't been able to get anything going lately.

4. The Defense, like the Offense above, has been fine save against Iowa & Michigan. With the way the Huskers can move the ball through the air and by land, what’s the hope of shutting down the Nebraska attack?

This is a Northwestern defense that was one of the best in the country through five games, and it is littered with talent. There's a decent chance that it returns to its early season form this weekend. But it has been punished on the ground these past two weeks. I don't think the Wildcats will be too worried about the Huskers' air attack, but especially dealing with a dual-threat QB, they could have issues stopping the run.

5. Northwestern is 5-2, which is a record Nebraska fans would take a bottle to the head to have, yet your site suggests that the season is already over. Why such a down look on the season before Halloween?

The point of that article, as mentioned above, is that it just feels like there's not much to play for. Northwestern suddenly has no shot at a trip to Indy (whereas it might've been the West favorite with a win over Iowa). But it'll almost definitely win at least one or two more games, maybe more, and make a bowl. The season will be seen as a success because of that, but given the hope that the fan base held just two weeks ago, and given that it's the same old issues that have sucked that hope away, it's a bit deflating.

6. Speaking of the future, it could be three straight non-bowling seasons for Pat Fitzgerald as HC. We’ve heard that he has a luke warm seat, however could it get hotter?

Well it's not going to be a third straight bowl-less season. And Fitzgerald could literally win zero games the rest of this season and all of next season and he'd almost certainly still be the coach here. He's got a contract through 2020, he's an outstanding face of the program, he's a good recruiter, and he does all the non-football stuff really well. He's not going anywhere. He's untouchable.

7. Even though the novelty may be wearing off, how many are making the trip to Lincoln for the game?

I honestly don't think it'll be many. Michigan was the big trip this year. And another of the four Big Ten 'road' games is against Illinois at Soldier Field. I don't think there'll be much purple, even as great as the Memorial Stadium experience is.

8. Who should we be looking out for on Saturday that we haven’t mentioned yet above?

Middle linebacker Anthony Walker. He's a phenomenal athlete, and had an outstanding start to the year. He recorded 19 tackles in a win at Duke. But, only a sophomore, he still struggles with the mental side of the game, and his reads haven't been great these past two weeks. He's also been hurt by the defensive line's regression. Walker will be key in halting the Huskers' rushing attack.

9. Alright, prediction time. What team comes out with the victory and for what reason?
I'll go Nebraska 24, Northwestern 13. I've liked what I've seen from Nebraska so far this season, and I think there were wild overreactions to some of the close losses. This is a solid team, one with more talent than Northwestern, and one that seems to be finding its groove. There's a reason the line is up to Nebraska -7.5 (as of this writing).