Last year's game against Northwestern was very telling. BC did enough to win, but a few bad plays, questionable clock and game management, and the inability to stop a scrambling quarterback cost us the game. All the issues became recurring problems throughout the season. Some of those problems still exist, but I feel like we have enough new elements to mask those issues. But because it is a non-conference road game, I feel like Saturday will once again be an indicator of how we will handle the rest of our schedule.
Hot Seat Thermometer
One week can make a difference. BC won easily and Notre Dame joined the ACC. What's there to worry about, right? In a way this game is all house money for Spaz. As the underdog, lame duck on the road, few expect us to win. Yet if he does win or even comes close, there will be those who say "look how hard this team is playing for Spaz!"
Temperature: It's still warm, but the winds coming off Lake Michigan makes things feel better
Overlooked storyline: the return of the Illinois crew
Only our recruiting focus has reverted back to Ohio this year, prior to that we really started making inroads at the Catholic programs in the Chicago area. This game will be a homecoming of sorts for Cleary, Clancy and Sinkovec and a few others.
Three Simple Keys
1. Shutting down their WRs. Usually our DBs are outclassed by the other team's skill guys. Not this week. We can contain their WRs. We can't let them get extra yards and cannot let them make big plays.
2. Establish the pass first. You can talk me into a vanilla approach against Maine, but not against Northwestern. Let's come out passing first and then, when we have the lead, start killing clock with the run.
3. Attack downfield. Syracuse and Vanderbilt both challenged NU and had success. We should press them deep too.
-- BC is 10-30-1 all time against Big Ten teams
-- Spaz is 7-9 on the road
-- Pat Fitzgerald is 6-6 vs BCS teams
The current line is BC+3.5
The last time BC lost in Evanston (1993), the followed the loss by winning their next eight games.
Wake Forest-Florida State has the most relevancy to our season. We face both and this game will be a test of which team is for real. Not much was expected of the Deacons, but they already won a conference game. Florida State is expected to be a national power, yet hasn't played anyone yet. We'll know a lot more about both after the game.
I hope to see...
BC get to Colter and/or Siemian. In last year's game, there was nothing more frustrating than watching Colter nearly get tackled only to escape and turn a negative play into a big gain.
BC is in trouble if...
we kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Earlier in the week I touched on our redzone issues. Northwestern can put up points on anyone, so for us to keep pace and win we need to get 7s instead of 3s!
There are a millions reasons to doubt BC this weekend, but I am rolling with my hunch. I watched a portion of Northwestern's Syracuse game and didn't come away feeling the Cats were all that good. I think we trade scores with them for the first half, build a little bit of a lead in the second half and then hold off their rally late.
Final Score: BC 35, Northwestern 31