Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Last chance: the Northwestern game.

Northwestern Wildcats
2008 record: 6-1 (2-1)
2008 Sagarin: 21 (IU is #97)
2007 record: 6-6
2007 Sagarin: 86
Series: Northwestern leads 42-33-1
Last IU win: 11/3/2001, 56-21 in Bloomington
Last Northwestern win: 11/10/2007, 31-28 in Evanston
Last Northwestern win in Bloomington: 2004 (31-24)
TV: Noon, BTN
IU's last, desperate chance for a winning season is on the line in Saturday's homecoming game against Northwestern. While there is virtually no chance that IU will win out, obviously falling to 2-6 before the end of October would be a significant disappointment. Unfortunately, IU has been snake-bitten against Northwestern since IU's last win in 2001. IU has lost four in a row to the Wildcats, although none of the games has been decided by more than seven points, and two of the games were decided in overtime. Perhaps the most galling was the 2004 game in Evanston. IU led by a touchdown in the first overtime, but Brett Basanez, thinking it was fourth down, recklessly heaved the ball into the endzone on third and two and managed to tie the game. That's all water under the bridge, of course, because IU will be very fortunate to be within a possession in this game. Northwestern is ranked 21 in the Sagarin, 24 in the coaches' poll, and 22 on my Blogpoll ballot (new poll will be released Wednesday), and 22 in the first BCS ratings of the season. NU is favored by more than a touchdown.
IU and NU are roughly on par in total offense (NU is #44, IU is #46), although I don't think the overall numbers, inflated by the Murray and Western Kentucky games, capture IU's recent ineptitude. IU is #85 in total defense, while NUis #49. NU's CJ Bacher has been respectable but not great: 58 percent completions, 10 TDs, 9 INT, 222 yards per game. Tyrell Sutton has been strong, averaging 100 yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. NU has a balanced offense. Four different Wildcats have receiving yardage totals of between 262 and 359 yards.
There's really not much to say. Before the season, this appeared to be a winnable game. Right now, IU could not beat a single BCS conference team. Something will have to chance if IU is going to beat Northwestern, Central Michigan, or anyone else.

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