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More Purple Rain on Saturday?: The CORN NATION Q&A With Northwestern

This has to be the only rivalry where the home field advantage is away from home.

Nebraska v Northwestern
And then to add insult to injury, last year’s game in Evanston played out just like an NU-NU home game.
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Prince wasn’t lying, chaps.

Times changed, they’re still changing and we’ve reached out for a new leader who gets his first shot at defending the home field against those purple bastards that have rained fairly steadily on us at home since we joined up with the ol’ B1G.

2017 - Northwestern 31 Huskers 24 OT
2015 - Northwestern 30 Huskers 28
2013 - Huskers 27 Northwestern 24
2011 - Northwestern 28 Huskers 25

Good luck, Scott Frost, but based on recent history, it looks like we can promise you two things - 1) the game will be close and 2) we’re probably going to be highly pissed off when it’s over. History is truth and the truth so far is Northwestern, but for the grace of a Hail Mary - Westerkamp, praise thy name - has owned our asses at the gun.

As always, we want the enemy’s opinion and Noah Coffman from fellow SBNation site, Inside NU, was gracious enough to answer Corn Nation’s burning questions about this match-up - many thanks, Noah!

The Huskers have always managed to make some Wildcat offensive player who has struggled up until this point in the season look good - a career day even. Who will that be this year?

I think the guy who might be ready to have a breakout game is Kyric McGowan.The junior has less than 400 total receiving yards in his career to this point, but he is an above-average route-runner with decent speed, if hit or miss hands. With top pass-catcher Bennett Skowronek out with an injury, and it stands to reason that McGowan could well be the guy.

We really need a trophy for this game and it shouldn’t be one of those horrible corporate-sponsored ones the B1G office keeps saddling Nebraska with. I’m sure there’s plenty of broken stuff in Nebraska after last weekend. What broken item would you prefer we contribute and what will you add to it to make it a truly NU-NU trophy?

You guys should shuck an ear of that famous corn and just sort of haphazardly cut off some kernels. I guess we can contribute a sliver of the (typically purple-painted) rock that sits near the entrance to the campus, and you can stick the kernels on there. I don’t know. It can’t be worse than that weird pig trophy Minnesota fights Iowa over.

Of course, regardless of components, we have to call it “The ‘The Real NU’ Trophy.” Yes, both the’s. This is non-negotiable.

Is “Wake Me Up When September Ends” the new theme song for NU football? And does Coach Fitzgerald intend to tweet out an official hashtag announcing that?

I’m not a huge Green Day guy myself, but it does make thematic sense, doesn’t it. Before you ask, I have no idea why Northwestern continues to have a hard time with September either.

As for Fitz, he will go on a five-minute rant to end his postgame press conference decrying Green Day and their influence on the youth of today and his team specifically before a tweet is fired off from his account @‘ing the band with the new hashtag mere seconds after he exits the podium.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Have you been to the new football facility? Some of the pictures would make me not want to go workout, practice or watch film. I would just want to sit there and look out over the lake. (crying on the inside)

I have been there plenty, actually. Aside from the very occasional open practice, I am an IM official, and we do get to hold some of our flag football games in said facility. So not only have I been in there once, but many times, and it is pretty much as beautiful as it seems.

So is there potential with Hunter Johnson, just have patience? Or were those five stars badly misplaced? (Not making fun - our experiences with ballyhooed QB Elite 11 5-stars is legendarily awful)

There is certainly potential, but not a whole lot of patience. Johnson is the guy, and that’s very unlikely to change, but an outdated offensive system that doesn’t fully suit him and is seemingly too complicated in some crucial ways certainly doesn’t help. He has seemed overwhelmed relatively often, especially against good defenses, but when he has time and an understanding of what he needs to do, Johnson has shown flashes of exceptional ability. He is also very consistent on the ground, and has been able to make an impact that way all season long.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

So how did you guys slow Jonathon Taylor down? Seriously. We really need to know this.

Especially this season, the Wildcats just absolutely sold out to stop the run. Defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz wasn’t afraid to put his corners on islands in pretty much any non-third-and-long situation, bombing safety Travis Whillock into the backfield on pretty much every play.

And it worked! Coan never looked comfortable or fully adjusted, and Northwestern was at least able to limit one of the Heisman favorites for the third year at home. It helped that Whillock and JR Pace, his fellow safety, had career days, and the linebacking corps played their best collective game of what had been a rough season to that point for the group.

So are we expecting a 10-7 type game since both offenses have been struggling? Or maybe a 35-38 because that’s how College Football works?

I’m definitely leaning towards the ladder. It seems to me that Northwestern will be able to move the ball on the ground regardless of struggles through the air, and no matter how good they looked last week, the Wildcat defense has always had problems with good dual-threat QBs in recent years. Also, Martinez torched them last year.

I’ll say Nebraska 31 (including a defensive/special teams score), Northwestern 27. I could go either way on this one, though.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports