Well, that was fun, huh? Two weeks, two nail-biters, two wins over BCS teams., one in the heat of the dome, one in a downpour under the lights.
Here's some notes before I rewatch the game:
First off, not to be a buzz-kill, but I'm not going nuts over this team yet. Sure, the team looks like it could start off with seven wins and the rest of the Big Ten looks shoddy at best, but I don't think this team is significantly better than I did when I made season previews. Way more crazy fun than I thought? Yeah, but we have to remember that this is still a team that just eked out two wins against teams that aren't world-beaters. Northwestern's saving grace thus far has been the turnover battle: Five turnovers for NU's opponents in two games, only one for the Cats. Either that's a trend that continues - which could be the case, as both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian have shown a tendency to be safe with the ball - or we see a regression to the mean and Northwestern loses some close games. Let's hope it's the former.
Boy, is Venric Mark fun to watch. Sorry I keep using the word "fun", but hey, it fits, right? I was really wrong about him. - I didn't think he was going to be an successful every-down running back, maybe a good player for options - but the guy has crazy wheels and can switch direction effortlessly. I think we're looking at Northwestern's first 1,000-yard rusher since Tyrell Sutton if he can stay healthy.
The defense still has issues, despite holding Vandy to 13 points, but I can't remember an NU squad putting on as solid a tackling performance as Saturday night. When David Nwabuisi gets his hands on someone, they're going down. Also great performances by Chi Chi Ariguzo, who seems to be everywhere he needs to be, and Tyler Scott, who was probably the MVP of that game. Wrapping guys up is going to be a strong suit for a squad that has been awful at it the past few years.
I think Kain Colter will come around. He's missing throws he made last year. But Trevor Siemian can obviously notch this win on his belt, too. I still think Colter is QB1A, but we'll take another look at him and Trevor this week.
.Maybe Northwestern's secondary isn't awful? Jordan Rodgers straight up missed a lot of throws.
Rashard Lawrence's catch clearly wasn't a catch, but whatever. The receiving corps showed its depth: a week after Demetrius Fields was the team's leading receiver by a long shot, he was barely noticeable but other guys like Lawrence and Kyle Prater picked up the slack.