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2008 Northwestern Game Preview

Discussion in 'News' started by Buckeyeskickbuttocks, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. Buckeyeskickbuttocks

    Buckeyeskickbuttocks Z --> Z^2 + c Staff Member

    [​IMG]
    2008 Northwestern Wildcats Game Preview
    written by: BB73, BuckeyeRyn, Buckeyeskickbuttocks, Bucklion, DaddyBigBucks, JCOSU86, jwinslow, and 3yardsandacloud


    Preface
    Now that we've all had an extra week to recover from the tough loss to the Nittany Lions, let's review what the Buckeyes can still accomplish this season.

    The BCS Championship Game is now definitely out of the picture, and the third straight outright Big Ten title is almost impossible as well. But winning out would most probably place the Buckeyes in a BCS bowl.

    It does seem odd to realize that Michigan State, Cal, and Oregon State all control their own destiny for the Rose Bowl, and tOSU and USC do not. But if Penn State wins out and makes the BCS Title Game, it's very likely that a 10-2 tOSU team would play in the Rose Bowl, even if the opponent is USC. The value that the Rose Bowl places on its Pac 10-Big Ten relationship is the key factor involved there.

    If Penn State plays in the Rose Bowl, a 10-2 tOSU team would then be a likely pick to face Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, since the Longhorns would be the most logical choice for the Fiesta as a 'replacement' pick for Texas Tech.

    Those are the scenarios that are worth mentioning at this point, but there are still many games to be played, and we all remember the carnage in the final month of the BCS standings last year.

    But there is something else the team can still be playing for, and also leave as another goal for next year's squad. And that's extending the winning streak for conference road games.

    The Buckeyes have a current streak of 13 consecutive Big Ten road victories, which is the second highest mark in league history. The last road loss in conference play was the rainy 17-10 decision at Happy Valley back in 2005. And if the Buckeyes are able to win at Northwestern and Illinois this year; and then get wins at Indiana and Purdue next year, they'll have a chance to break the record in the revenge game at Penn State which will take place 52 weeks from Saturday.

    Here is each team's best string of conference road victories:

    TSUN:
    17 - 1988-92, it ended with the 13-13 game which was, according to E. Gordon Gee, the "greatest victory"
    10 - 1945-48
    09 - 1929-33
    08 - 1996-98
    07 - 1971-72, 1973-74, 1977-79, and 1981-82

    tOSU:
    13 - 2005-current
    12 - 1974-77 (including the 21-14 win at AA in '75)
    09 - 1966-69 (ending in 24-12), and 1978-80
    07 - 1954-56
    07 - 1970-71

    Mich St:
    08 - 1965-67 (National Championship Bubba Smith/George Webster years)
    08 - 1988-90

    Penn St: (joined in 1993)
    08 - 1993-95 (1994 was JoePa's last perfect season, but they finshed #2 to Nebraska, pre-BCS)

    Illinois:
    08 - 1918-20 (NC in 1919, with a 9-7 win on a FG with 8 seconds left over tOSU and Chic Harley in sesaon finale)
    06 - 1982-83
    06 - 1989-90

    Minnesota:
    07 - 1960-62 (National Championship in 1960)
    05 - 1940-41 (National Champions both years)

    Northwestern:
    07 - 1929-31
    06 - 1995-96 (didn't play tOSU either year)

    Purdue:
    07 - 1933-35
    06 - 1943-44 (including a win over tOSU in Cleveland)
    06 - 1979-80

    Iowa:
    06 - 1921-23
    05 - 1956-67
    05 - 1995-96
    05 - 2001-02 (tied tOSU at 8-0 in 2002)

    Wisconsin:
    06 - 1906-08

    Chicago (member until 1939):
    05 - 1905-08 (National Champions in 1905)

    Indiana:
    03 - 1945, 1946, 1967, 1968, and 1982 (not counting 1994 where an MSU forfeit gets them to 3)

    So here's hoping that tOSU extends the streak in Evanston, but after that we wish the Wildcats good fortune, since they have already qualified for a bowl game this year. And let's hope they win it, since their only bowl win was after the 1948 season, and it's getting more difficult to add to the list of teams that have won a bowl game more recently than Notre Dame.
    Date and Time
    Date: Saturday, November 8th, 2008

    Time: Noon ET Kick-off
    Location: Ryan Field (Evanston, IL)
    Constructed: 1926 (Renovated 1997)
    Seating Capacity: 49,256
    Playing Surface: Natural Grass
    Events:
    Broadcast Information:
    TV Broacast: ESPN2: Dave Pasch (Play-by-play), Andre Ware (Analysis), and Some Hot Blonde (Sideline)
    Radio Broadcast: Ohio State Radio Network (WBNS 1460TheFan in Columbus): Paul Keels (Play-by-play), Jim Lachey (Analysis), and Marty Bannister (Sideline)
    2008 Northwestern Wildcats Offensive Preview
    It seems like there is always at least one fresh challenger making noise in the Big Ten season after season, and this year, there are two. They met last weekend, with the upstart Northwestern Wildcats stunning a resurgent Minnesota squad with a last minute interception return for a touchdown, after losing a ghastly game against lowly Indiana the game before. The win moved the Wildcats into a tie for 4th with Minnesota in the conference standings and gave Northwestern their 7th win in 9 tries, demonstrating the quality of head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff. More surprising still, it was the backup QB who shredded the Gopher defense for over 200 yards rushing in the victory. Coming off of an emotional loss to rival Penn State, the Buckeyes will need to muster all of their energy after their bye week to propel themselves the next 2 games, because the state of Illinois has 2 pretty good football teams this season, and the Buckeyes play them back-to-back.

    The Wildcat offense has not been nearly as potent this season as it was in previous seasons. They rank just 50th in total yards per game (382.2). The neither run the ball (165.1 YPG, 46th) nor pass the ball (212.0 YPG, 62nd) with particular success, though they are well balanced running and throwing out of the spread. They also don't score a whole lot of points (26.2 PPG, 59th) so it could be another slugfest on Saturday. Northwestern is average at moving the chains (20.8 1st downs per game, 39th) and reasonably good at converting on 3rd down (46.1%, 25th). As an entire team, they have only been penalized 43 times all season, so they also show good discipline, not surprising with a Pat Fitzgerald team. On the flip side, the Wildcats rank 80th in turnover margin (-0.33) and have a bad habit of turning the ball over, as their 21 lost turnovers is near the worst in the nation. So, to pull off the upset, the Wildcats will have to move the chains, maintain offensive balance, and more importantly, control the pace of the game by not turning the ball over.
    Quarterbacks
    QB #18 C. J. Bacher (6-2, 205, SR, Jesuit HS, Sacramento, CA)

    Bacher had a monster year in 2007, throwing for 3656 yards (61% completions) and 19 TDs, also running for 4 TDs. That is the good news. The bad news is that he also threw 19 picks and was sacked 32 times. He is having a somewhat similar season in 2008, though his passing yardage is way down, even before considering he missed last week due to injury. At his best, he is a duel threat run/pass option QB that can burn you throwing the ball and also on the ground (he had scored a TD rushing in 3 straight games before missing last week). He is still a bit turnover prone (11 INTs) but has been smarter with the football by not taking anywhere near the number of sacks (only 6 thus far). He has thrown for at least 200 yards 5 times this season, including back-to-back games of 284 against Iowa and 283 against Michigan State. His TDs are feast-or-famine, however, as he has tossed 3 TDs in 3 games, and only 1 in the other 5 games combined. The bad news for Northwestern fans is twofold. First, it is unclear if their leader and team captain can play this week due to injury. Second, Bacher had a terrible game against the Buckeyes last season, throwing for only 120 yards, getting picked off twice, and totaling -39 yards rushing as the Buckeyes crushed the Wildcats by 51. He?ll be looking for redemption this year, if he is able to go.

    Backing up Bacher is Mike Kafka (#13). All he did subbing for Bacher last weekend was torch Minnesota for 217 yards on the ground (A Big Ten QB record), and complete 12 of 16 passes for 143 yards and 2 TDs. He did throw 2 INTs, but he collected Big Ten player of the week honors last weekend for his effort. If Bacher is unable to play, it certainly appears that Kafka is an able replacement, particularly on the ground, which is important for the Wildcats with Sutton out due to injury.

    QB Rating: B

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus Ohio State QBs

    Bacher (P/R): 179/303 (59.1%), 1700 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs, 109.8 rating; 58/244, 3 TDs

    Pryor (P/R): 75/115 (65.2%), 879 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs, 141.4 rating; 97/417, 5 TDs

    Hard to grade this based on the potential injury to Bacher. Though he had a miserable game against the Buckeyes last season, Bacher is a solid QB who is making better decisions with the football this season, and who has been very effective on the ground. The development of Pryor continues, as he is going to have to bounce back from a tough game last time out to lead the Buckeyes to a tough road victory. Pryor played pretty well at Wisconsin, so Buckeye fans have high hopes for the weekend. Both teams appear to have capable backups. Kafka is all the rage after his performance last weekend, but given his limited playing experience it is difficult to know exactly how effective he would be on Saturday.

    Edge: Even

    Running Backs
    TB #29 Omar Conteh (6-0, 210, SR, Cy-Fair HS, Cypress, TX)

    Gone for the year is star-crossed Tyrell Sutton, a senior standout who showed flashes of brilliance in his college career but was bitten by the injury bug several times the past 2 seasons, including the 3rd quarter of the Indiana game, where he sustained a serious wrist injury. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, his 776 yards and 6 TDs on the ground, and 30 catches for 276 yards and 2 TDs out of the backfield, are gone with him. Enter senior and veteran Conteh, who filled in admirably for Sutton in his absence last season, recording 100 yard games against Michigan and Eastern Michigan, and scoring a pair of TDs against Michigan State en route to gaining 447 yards total and leading the team in rushing TDs for the season with 5. He didn't inspire a huge amount of confidence last weekend, however, gaining just 12 yards on 12 carries and recording 3 catches for 11 yards while the backup quarterback was busy shredding the Gopher defense on the ground. He does, however, have a proven track record, plenty of experience, and he has shown he can contribute significantly against major opponents. Look for the Wildcats to try and involve him more in the gameplan this weekend, but it is clear the loss of Sutton, both as a runner and especially as a receiver, is a big blow to the Wildcats going forward.

    Backing up Conteh is little-used sophomore Stephen Simmons (#25), a small, shifty back (5-8, 180) who has just 4 carries this season.

    RB Rating: C-

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus Ohio State RBs

    Conteh: 73/235 yards, 3 TDs, 3.2 YPC; 10 rec/61 yards, 0 TDs, 6.1 YPR
    Simmons: 70/411 yards, 4 TDs, 5.9 YPC; 7 rec/142 yards, 1 TD, 20.3 YPR

    C Wells: 124/674 yards, 4 TDs, 5.4 YPC; 7 rec/26 yards, 0 TDs, 3.7 YPR
    Herron: 58/262 yards, 1 TD, 4.5 YPC; 5 rec/27 yards, 0 TDs, 5.4 YPR
    M Wells: 28/99 yards, 1 TD, 3.5 YPC; 5 rec/42 yards, 0 TDs, 8.4 YPR

    Sutton seems like a good person, and is certainly a good player, and it is really a shame he has had injury problems the past 2 seasons. His loss is a punishing blow for the Wildcats, who have Conteh as a serviceable though unspectacular replacement, and virtually nothing behind him in terms of experience or production. Wells will be eager to prove that last weekend was an anomaly, and will probably be firing away with abandon against the Wildcat defense this week.

    Edge: Ohio State

    Wide Receivers
    Y-WR #10 Eric Peterman (6-1, 200, SR, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin HS, Sherman, IL)
    X-WR #8 Rasheed Ward (5-11, 180, SR, Harper HS, Chicago, IL)
    Z-WR #9 Ross Lane (6-3, 195, SR, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, FL)
    H-WR #11 Jeremy Ebert (6-0, 180, FR, Hilliard Darby HS, Hilliard, OH)

    The Wildcats return the core of their receivers this season, as 3 of their top 4 receivers from last year (Peterman, Lane, Ward) form the nucleus of this group, and are leading the way again in 2008. Peterman, a team captain, led the team with 66 catches last season, and is having another good campaign for the Wildcats in 2008 thus far, leading the team with 3 TD receptions. Northwestern has been distributing the ball well amongst its wideouts this season, so his numbers are down a bit from last season at this time, though he caught 7 passes against Ohio and scored a pair of TDs against Iowa. He's a good-sized target who can be dangerous over the middle or around the end zone. Lane leads the team in catches and yards, though surprisingly he has yet to find the end zone in 2008 after doing so 7 times in 2007. His best stretch was catching 6 passes for 66 yards against Iowa, and then posting 9 for 113 yards against Michigan State. He caught just one pass last week, however. Ward is on pace to basically equal his production from last year (46 catches, 434 yards), though he has found the end zone twice this season after being shut out in 2007. He caught 10 passes for 94 yards and a TD against Iowa, but has just 6 catches total in the past 3 games.

    Ebert is an exciting Ohio product who has quickly ascended the depth chart. He has 13 catches for 157 yards and 2 scores thus far, and the future looks very bright for him. He has particularly come on lately, with 10 of his catches occurring in the past 3 games, scoring last weekend against the Gophers. Leading the way off the bench is sophomore Sidney Stewart (#5) who has 16 catches for 126 yards and a score this season, including 7 catches for 49 yards against the Spartans. Also in the mix is junior Andrew Brewer, a target with good size (6-3, 210), who has caught 10 passes for 103 yards so far in 2008, including a total of 3 the past 2 contests.

    WR Rating: B

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus Ohio State WRs

    Lane: 38 catches, 397 yards, 0 TDs, 10.4 YPR
    Peterman: 33 catches, 386 yards, 3 TDs, 11.7 YPR
    Ward: 35 catches, 329 yards, 2 TDs, 9.4 YPR

    Robiskie: 30 catches, 298 yards, 5 TDs, 9.9 YPR
    Hartline: 16 catches, 302 yards, 2 TDs, 18.9 YPR
    Sanzenbacher: 16 catches, 187 yards, 0 TDs, 11.7 YPR

    This is a difficult call to make, as the learning curve of Pryor in the passing game has led to lower numbers for Robiskie and Hartline. The Wildcats have a nice mixture of experience and youthful enthusiasm, with their 3 veterans leading the way and a handful of prospects in tow. Ebert in particular looks like he could be very good. Sanzenbacher and Small have also had their moments for the Buckeyes. This is a close one, but given the more consistent production from the passing game and the depth at the position, the Wildcats get the slight nod.

    Edge: Northwestern

    Tight Ends
    TE #89 Josh Rooks (6-6, 265, SO, Holland Christian HS, Zeeland, MI)

    It would be easy to classify the TE/H-B position as a 3rd guard at Northwestern, especially with a monster like Rooks manning the position. However, this position has been a favored target in the red zone, as he and fellow TE Brendan Mitchell (#80) have combined for 3 TDs in just 6 catches. Mitchell has starting experience from last season, so the Wildcats are not lacking for size or quality at this position.

    TE Rating: B

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus Ohio State TEs

    Rooks: 5 catches, 27 yards, 2 TDs, 5.4 YPR
    Mitchell: 1 catch, 1 yard, 1 TD, 1.0 YPR

    Nicol: 4 catches, 32 yards, 1 TD, 8.0 YPR
    Ballard: 3 catches, 42 yards, 0 TDs, 14.0 YPR

    Both teams use their TEs primarily as blockers, and have players who do a capable job. The Wildcat H-backs have been effective in the red zone, so they get a slight nod for their increased value in scoring situations.

    Edge: Northwestern

    Offensive Line
    LT #75 Al Netter (6-6, 295, FR, Cardinal Newman HS, Rohnert Park, CA)
    LG #62 Keegan Kennedy (6-2, 290, SR, Cardinal Newman HS, Jupiter, FL)
    C #65 Ben Burkett (6-4, 285, FR, St. John?s Jesuit HS, Toledo, OH)
    RG #64 Doug Bartels (6-4, 300, FR, Rockford Boylan Catholic HS, Caledonia, IL)
    RT #76 Desmond Taylor (6-3, 290, JR, Loyola HS, Los Angeles, CA)

    All 5 positions have different starters from last season's game, as several young players have stepped up and assumed starting roles. On the left side, Netter has assumed the starting position right out of the gate. Kennedy entered the program as a defensive tackle, made the switch last season, and now mans the LG position. In the middle, Burkett is also starting right out of the gate as a freshman, so he also appears to have a very bright future. A pair of upstarts also man the right side. Taylor played sparingly the past 2 seasons, starting one game in each. Bartels did not play last year, but now mans the RG position. Collectively, this unit is young, but they have played pretty well, the sack numbers are down considerably from last season, and the ground game can still be effective. This line appears to have a bright future as the components gain time working together.

    Two starters from last season, Joel Belding (#52) and Kurt Mattes (#78) lead the reserves. Mattes has been battling injuries, but both provide reliable depth.

    OL Rating: B-

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus Ohio State OL

    Neither offense has lit up the stat sheets this season. The Buckeye line is much maligned, but has shown flashes of being dominant in the run game. The Wildcats have done a pretty good job protecting their QB and got the ground game going last weekend against Minnesota. The Buckeyes have the edge in experience.

    Edge: Even

    Overall Offensive Analysis

    Overall Analysis: Northwestern has had a very successful season thus far, but it has been more due to grit and determination than to flashy offensive numbers. The Wildcats are pedestrian in almost every offensive category, and the loss of their best player for the season definitely hurts their chances in a game like this one. To be effective, the QB (whoever plays) will have to control the game, both on the ground and through the air. The Wildcats do have a good group of targets to throw to, but it is difficult to see them putting up big numbers against the Buckeyes. If Northwestern is to pull off the upset, they will have to take care of the football, and again that goes back to the QB making good decisions. The line will hold up fairly well, but the QB play will be an especially important piece for the Wildcats as they try to put the 2007 meeting between these 2 teams behind them.

    Overall Offensive Rating: B-
    2008 Northwestern Wildcats Defensive Preview
    Returning Starters: 7

    Needing to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball the Wildcats hired Mike Hankwitz to serve as Defensive Coordinator in 2008. Hankwitz is a graduate of Michigan and was a member of the 1969 Wolverine's team which beat the Buckeyes despite Ohio State being defending National Champions, undefeated, and heavy favorites. He has headed up a number of top rated units over his coaching career including winning a National Championship while at Colorado (1990) and most recently being the brains behind Wisconsin's defense from 2006 - 2007. He prefers an attacking, aggressive style of play out of a 4-3 base.

    Comparing the Wildcats to the Buckeyes:

    Team.........Pts...Total...Run....Pass.....Fum...INT...3rd D...3rd D%..4th D...4th D%..Sacks...RZ Scores....RZ%
    Northwestern.18.1..341.8...109.3..232.4....10....8-112.43-132..33%.....6-17....35%.....26-200..22-30(13TDs)..73%
    Ohio State...13.3..267.1...104.1..163.0....9.....12-87.47-127..33%.....6-10....60%.....15-105..15-17(9Tds)...88%

    As you can see, the Buckeyes have a slight edge in rushing Defense but with the Buckeyes bringing Chris Beanie Wells and the Wildcats losing the services of Tyrell Sutton production may be quite different on Saturday. The key differences are seen in the passing defense with Ohio State being some 70 yards per game better. Northwestern, with Senior CJ Bacher at QB (assuming he plays) or even with Mike Kafka, will not be affraid to throw it around, however. While Ohio State has generated more turnovers, the Wildcats have seen great improvement at getting to the QB over last year having recorded 26 sacks thus far. Terrelle Pryor's mobility will be a factor and Northwestern had better concentrate on not breaking containment.

    Defensive Line
    LE #95 Kevin Mims (6-3, 265, SR)
    LT #98 Corbin Bryant (6-4, 275, SO)
    RT #70 John Gill (6-3, 300, SR)
    RE #99 Corey Wootton (6-7, 280, JR)

    Inside the Wildcats rely on the physical presence of Gill who enters his Senior year with NFL potential. Solid against the run, he also can make his way in to the backfield and cause disruption. He has 23 tackles in 2008, 7 for loss with 4 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. Bryant suffered a broken leg his first year and returned to limited action last season. He isn't as physical as Gill, but is quicker, though his numbers this season do not quite bear that out as he has only 1 sack and 4.5 TFLs among his 24 tackles. He also has recovered a fumble. Mims is the vocal leader of the line and can get to the QB on occasion. He needs to establish more consistency, however, and has only recorded 1 sack thus far. He has 3.5 TFLs, 26 tackles and a fumble recovery. Wooten rounds out the line-up. An honorable mention All-Big Ten player last season, he has good size and quickness of the edge. He leads linemen with 27 tackles, 12 for loss with 6.5 sacks (for 54 yards) and a fumble recovery.

    Depth comes from #56 Kevin Watt (6-4, 270, rFR), #94 Vince Browne (6-5, 262, rFR) #79 Adam Hahn (6-4, 295, JR), and #67 Marshall Thomas (6-3, 285, JR). Hahn, after an excellent Freshman campaign, started each game for Northwestern in 2007, but has to become stronger against he run. He has just 4 tackles in 8 games this season. Browne, however, is expected to do great things during his career. A former line-backer, Browne relies on his speed off the edge and has performed well this season in the rotation recording a reserves leading 22 tackles, 7 for loss with 4 sacks an INT and 2 forced fumbles. Thomas has some experience and good upside, but has not been a particular presence thus far in 2008 recording just 6 tackles in 9 games. Watt has played in 8 of 9 contests but has just 1 tackle.

    DL Rating: B-

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus OSU DL

    Thad Gibson 20 Tackles, 6.0 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 Fumble Rec (TD) 2 FF
    Cameron Heyward 19 Tackles, 2 TFLs 1 sack
    Doug Worthington 18 Tackles 3.0 TFL
    Rob Rose 7 Tackles, 1 TFL

    If the numbers have any meaning both squads are about equal when it comes to stopping the run, while the Wildcats have been better at getting to the QB and making stops behind the LOS. Both teams would benefit from more consistency from some of the players, though Thad Gibson is making more and more plays as the season progresses. Ohio State is having trouble finding a true inside presence and the starters listed above have all been DEs at some point. The Wildcats have good size, but the Buckeyes are faster.

    Edge: Even

    Linebackers
    OLB #36 Prince Kwateng (6-2, 230, SR)
    MLB #46 Malcolm Arrington (6-2, 235, SR)
    WLB #41 Quentin Davie (6-4, 215, SO)

    Kwateng started the majority of his Junior season but was limited with an injury in the middle of the season. This on the heels of a knee injury his Sophomore season. Healthy thus far, Kweteng has exhibited good strength and quickness, leading Northwestern LBs with 68 Tackles, 3 for loss with 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. Arrington is expected to be the play maker for the defense as he mans the middle. With a good nose for the football, Arrington can deliver a big hit and is good enough in coverage, though he has yet to record an INT this year. He has 51 tackles, 6.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks. Davie is new to the starting role, but saw time last year when he made 25 tackles. He smallish at 215, but has good speed which means he is sent on blitzes with some frequency. He has 44 tackles, 8.5 for loss with 3.5 sacks and 5 QB hurries.

    #31 Mike Dinard (6-2, 235, SR), #35 Ben Johnson (6-4, 210, FR), and #57 Nate Williams (6-2, 235, SO). Dinard was the starter at OLB for the first half of 2007 before being passed on the depth chart. He is not terribly quick nor strong against the run, but he does make plays just on determination to do so. He has 18 tackles in 2008 in 9 games. Johnson has played in 8 games and has made 6 tackles. Smaller than Davie, he is perhaps the most athletic of the group and could develop in to the main blitz option as he learns the system. Williams has also played in 8 games and has 25 tackles, with 1 for loss (sack). He's being groomed to take over the MLB position next season when Arrington departs.

    LB Rating: C+

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus OSU LBs

    Ross Homan 52 Tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 2 fumble recoveries
    James Laurinaitis 90 Tackles, 3.0 TFL, 2.5 Sacks 1 INT
    Marcus Freeman 56 Tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3.5 Sacks

    With Pat Fitzgerald running the show, NU's LBs are expected to be outstanding presences on the field. Paired with Hankwitz's attacking philosophy this unit is making its presence felt more than last year. However, Northwestern is lacking in pure talent when compared to Ohio State's group. That's not to say the Wildcats corps is bad, of course, but the Buckeyes enjoy one of the finer units in the land and Northwestern is not quite at that level. While Northwestern's LBs have been more active, they need to improve in run support, and while they have decent speed can be exploited on the edges. The Buckeyes unit has had a quiet 2008, but the top 3 LBs continue to lead the tackling categories 1-2-3 while providing solid run support behind a line that has been suspect up the gut.

    Edge: Ohio State

    Secondary
    RCB #24 Sherrick McManis (6-1, 185, JR)
    FS #17 Brad Phillips (6-4, 210, JR)
    SS #4 Brendan Smith (6-1, 205, JR)
    LCB #26 Jordan Mabin (5-11, 180, rFR)

    Phillips stepped in to a starting role in 2007 when Brenden Smith was injured but moves over to Free Safety this season. All he's done is lead the team in tackles with 75, 4 for loss with a sack, recorded 2 INTs, and forced 2 fumbles. He has good size and has the potential to gain post season recognitions before his career is finished. Smith, as mentioned, missed a great deal of 2007 with a bum shoulder after having earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors the prior year. He's a steady leader who brings decent size and solid field presence. He has 57 tackles, 3 for loss with 2 picks - returned for 74 yards. McManis is pretty good in coverage and rarely misses a tackle. He has to establish more "shut down" type ability but has the size and speed to get it done. He is 4th on the team in tackles with 55 with a pick and a forced fumble. Mabin was a offensive play-maker in High School and has worked his way in to the starting role at corner owing to his quickness and toughness. With 37 tackles and a TFL, Mabin has performed well in his first season on the job. He also has 2 INTs, 2 FFs and a fumble recovery.

    Corners #16 David Oredugba (6-2, 195, SR), #21 Mike Bolden (6-1, 185, rFR), Safeties; #32 David Arnold (6-1, 190, rFR), #38 Brian Peters (6-4, 210, rFR) provide depth. Among reserves Peters leads with 15 tackles, 1 TFL and a 39 yard fumble recovery. A big hitter, Peters should do well in Northwestern's attacking scheme going forward. Arnold has seen action in 6 games and has 3 tackles. While an athletic option, he has struggled with injuries. Oredugba has played in each of Northwestern's games and has 5 tackles. A Senior, Oredugba can play Safety in a pinch and also sees time on Special Teams. Bolden has 7 tackles in 9 games after staring on the Scout team last season. He's maybe not quite as big as listed, but he was one of Northwestern's better overall recruits when he came in and should find his way to a starting role, perhaps as early as next year when McManis departs.

    DB Rating: C+

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern versus OSU DBs

    Malcolm Jenkins 40 Tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 3 INTs 2 FF
    Kurt Coleman 39 Tackles, 1 TFL, 3 INT, 1 FF
    Anderson Russell 43 Tackles, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Rec, 2 FF
    Chimdi Chekwa 14 Tackles, 1 INT

    Like the Linebackers, Ohio State simply has better overall talent at each position. Again, however, that is not a particular knock on the Wildcats. While Phillips and Smith have more tackles than any other secondary player mentioned in this preview, Ohio State's Safeties are better in coverage and, perhaps owing to better linebacking play, are not called upon to make quite as many stops. Jenkins is among the top Corners in the nation and Chekwa has played well enough to keep incumbent starter Donald Washington at his heels since DWash's return from pre-season off the field issues. C.J. Bacher or Mike Kafka - regardless of who plays - won't be afraid to throw it early and often, but the Buckeyes have done well in creating turnovers this season. More may be for the taking on Saturday. It would be a mistake if this preview failed to mention the play of Jermale Hines who has 23 tackles, 2 for loss with 2 fumbles recoveries (1 for TD) who has provided solid minutes this season as he waits his turn to become Ohio State's next great Defensive Back. While Northwestern has potential in its youthful depth, Ohio State has as much or more potential waiting in the wings and as Hines' performance has testified Ohio State doesn't lose much when a starter takes a breather or if the Buckeyes have to go nickel.

    Edge: Ohio State

    Overall Defensive Analysis

    Northwestern is moving in the right direction with their defense. While not there yet, it should be little surprise that Pat Fitgerald has made a commitment to improving his stop-forces. The hiring of Hankwitz was a good one. While it might be tough for Northwestern to get the sort of talent Hankwitz is used to at Colorado and Wisconsin, for example, he brings a mindset to the game which many offenses have a tough time playing against. That is, Northwestern will force the issue as this defense grows instead of playing passive. Still, this is year one of the new system and Northwestern is lacking the overall talent to be a top tier Big Ten Defense. Those days may be in the immediate future though. In any case, the mobility of Pryor will be key as any pressure Northwestern will create is most likely to come up the middle. As Michigan State learned, you can't give Pryor the edge. Northwestern will need to keep that in mind and may actually benefit some from the relative lack of pass rush consistency from the outside. The ball can be moved through the air against the Wildcats and Pryor is coming off his best passing performance of his career which came against Penn State. Considering how that game ended, Pryor may want to make a statement this week. Like this preview, however, with all the worrying on has to do about Pryor you simply cannot forget about Chris Wells. Wells, like Pryor, is no doubt chomping at the bit to bust a couple of runs after the PSU loss and having to sit a week. Yards will be available and there may be opportunity to take some advantage of Northwestern's aggressiveness with possible over-pursuits.

    Overall Defensive Rating: B

    2008 Northwestern Wildcats Special Teams Preview
    Returning Starters: 2

    2007 Stats
    Punting: Stefan Demos 54 for 2168 yds, 40.15 avg 70th in the Nation
    Punt Returns: No one in top 100
    Kickoff Returns: Sherrick McManis 31 for 718 yds 23.16 avg, 72nd in the Nation
    Punt Return Defense: 21 for 103 yds, 4.9 avg, 8th in the Nation
    Kickoff Return Defense: 42 for 1039 yds, 24.74 avg, 110th in the Nation

    2008 Stats
    Punting: Stefan Demos, 41 for 1656 yds, 40.39 avg, 54th in the Nation
    Punt Returns: Brendan Smith, 12 returns for 60 yds, 5.00 avg, 66th in the Nation
    Kickoff Returns: No one in top 100
    Punt Return Defense: 14 for 116 yds, 8.29 avg 60th in the Nation
    Kickoff Return Defense: 44 for 842 yds, 19.14 avg, 23rd in the Nation

    The Wildcats have been so-so on Special Teams for the past two years. However, several key players have returned, so this aspect of the contest must not be overlooked by the Buckeyes.

    Special Teams

    P #1 Stefan Demos (5-10, 185, So., Horizon HS, Scottsdale, AZ)
    PK #96 Amado Villarreal (5-10, 180, Sr., Englewood HS, Englewood, CO)
    PR #10 Eric Peterman (6-1, 200, Sr., Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin HS, Sherman, IL)
    PR #4 Brendan Smith (6-1, 205, Jr., New Hampton Prep, Andover, MA)
    KR #24 Sherrick McManis (6-1, 185, Jr., Richwoods HS, Peoria, IL)
    KR #25 Stephen Simmons (5-8, 185, St. Louis Univeristy HS, St. Louis, MO)
    LS #86 Phil Brunner (6-2, 220, Sr., South Milwaukee HS, South Milwaukee, WI)

    Northwestern brings in Special Teams units with varying levels of success, from the average to the poor. Kicker Villarreal leads the Wildcats in scoring (71 pts) having made 16 of 20 FGs and 23 of 25 PATs. His longest (47 yds) came last week vs Minnesota. Punter Demos averages a decent, but not great 40.39 yds per punt. Main Punt Returners Peterman and Smith do not rank in the top 100 in return average. At the same time, kickoff returns are by committee with no Wildcat ranking in the top 100 in return avg. The NU return defense teams don't blow anyone away. Their Punt Return Defense ranking 56th in the country and Kickoff return defense doing somewhat better at 23rd.

    ST Rating: C

    Head-to-Head: Northwestern return teams versus OSU Return Team Defenses

    The Buckeyes rank 17th in the Nation in Punt Return Defense. Northwestern's Smith ranks 66th in the Nation with a 5.0 avg return. The nod goes to Ohio State. In kickoff returns the same holds true, with no Northwestern player in the Top 100 while Ohio State comes in at #14 in defense. Edge again to OSU.

    Edge: Ohio State

    Head-to-Head: Saine/Small/Thomas/Wells versus Northwestern Return Team Defenses

    Ray Small ranks 14th in the Nation in punt returns and the Northwestern Punt Return Defense ranks 56th. This will be an area that Ohio State can exploit to turn the game in their favor early. The Buckeye kickoff return team has "improved" to 94th in the country with a 19.76 yds per return average. With the Wildcats ranking 26th in the Nation, giving up only 19.38 per return. We'll give the slight not to NW.

    Edge: Northwestern


    Overall Special Teams Analysis

    Ohio State has produced 2 TDs with Special Teams (1 punt block and 1 punt return). They still have a lot of work to do but are improving in the kickoff return area. Northwestern is solid but unspectacular. They have yet to produce a TD on Special Teams. The Buckeyes do not want to allow Northwestern to stay in the game with big Special Teams plays, so you can bet Coach Tressel continued preaching improvement in these areas all week in practice. As always, expect field position to be a critical factor, especially early.

    Overall Special Teams Rating: C

    Predictions
    BB73's prediction: 38-13, Ohio State

    BuckeyeRyn's prediction: 24-13, Ohio State
    Buckeyeskickbuttocks' prediction: 45-10, Ohio State
    Bucklion's prediction: 24-13, Ohio State
    DaddyBigBucks's prediction: 31-13, Ohio State
    jwinslow's prediction: 45-10, Ohio State
    JCOSU's Prediction: 45-7, Ohio State
    3yardsandacloud's prediction: 28-12, Ohio State


    Previous Game's Results (OSU 6 - Pennn State 13)
    Low score wins the year long battle of prediction supremacy! (Difference of actual score versus predicted score. 10 point penalty for picking the losing team.)


    (171) Bucklion's prediction: 28-27, Ohio State (46 + 125 last week = 171)
    (189) DaddyBigBucks's prediction: 23-27, Penn State (31 + 158 last week = 189)
    (195) jwinslow's prediction: 27-17, Ohio State (35 + 160 last week = 195)
    (203) JCOSU86's prediction: 27-20, Ohio State (38 + 165 last week = 203)
    (214) BB73's prediction: 34-17, Ohio State (42 + 172 last week = 214)

    (220) BuckeyeRyn's prediction: ??-??, Ohio State (46 + 174 last week = 220)
    (222) 3yardsandacloud's prediction: 23-20, Ohio State (34 + 188 last week = 222)

    (224) Buckeyeskickbuttocks' prediction: 34-17, Ohio State (42 + 182 last week = 224)

    Adjusted scores for weeks missed. Participant must take the highest score from the week they missed.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2008
    808 Buck likes this.
  2. Bucklion

    Bucklion Throwback Staff Member Former Premier League Champ

    As an addition ESPN is reporting that Conteh is also out for NW.
     
    808 Buck likes this.
  3. Ttown

    Ttown WTH is an Illini? Dead goose?

    Thanks for the preview, good work.
     
  4. DaddyBigBucks

    DaddyBigBucks Still Calculating Buckeye DSC... Staff Member Bookie

    ...and they are reporting that Bacher is probable. After seeing their game against Minnesota, I'd just as soon face Bacher.
     
    808 Buck likes this.
  5. MililaniBuckeye

    MililaniBuckeye The satanic soulless freight train that is Ohio St Staff Member Tech Admin

    Yeouch. Our DL can now just pin their ears back...Gibson should have a monster day.
     
  6. LitlBuck

    LitlBuck I Don't Want Any Trouble but People Need Banners!

    I hope that Joe Smith can multitask:chompy: or this game might be very difficult for those who listen to the TV announcers.

    Once again, excellent job by all of you:bow:
     
  7. BB73

    BB73 Loves Buckeye History Staff Member Bookie '16 & '17 Upset Contest Winner

    That was my fault - I've updated the announcers now. :wink2:
     
  8. BuckeyeRyn

    BuckeyeRyn Calling all friends & people I met on the way down


    A man willing to admit fault... Such a turn-on!!!!
     
  9. Gatorubet

    Gatorubet Loathing All Things Georgia

    I would have admitted fault, but he beat me to it first.

    It's not my problem he did that...
     
  10. BB73

    BB73 Loves Buckeye History Staff Member Bookie '16 & '17 Upset Contest Winner

    20,000 word mea culpa sent via PM.
     
  11. Buckeyeskickbuttocks

    Buckeyeskickbuttocks Z --> Z^2 + c Staff Member

    Buckeyeskickbuttocks' prediction: 45-10, Ohio State

    Told ya. :wink2:
     
    WaitingforKickoff likes this.
  12. Best Buckeye

    Best Buckeye Pretending I'm a pleasant person is exhausting. Staff Member

    We know that Ryn told you to make that prediction.
     
  13. buckeyes_rock

    buckeyes_rock Great day to be a Buckeye

    Very nice! Looking forward to next week. :)
     
  14. TheLand23

    TheLand23 Newbie

    replay?

    I missed the game. Anyone know network/time info on a replay? If not how quickly do the games become available as a torrent?
     
  15. GOOD CALL!!! ...by Jwinslow and BKB! perfect 45-10.

    :biggrin:
     

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