THURSDAY OF GAME WEEK SIPS, ft. married football players and Lakeside Field

USA TODAY Sports

Two days to kickoff!!! It's getting real.

There's college football going on tonight, an appetizer until Saturday, when there are a bunch of games on the undercard until the big one we all care about.

Let's get on with the linky linky.

* NFL.com covers college football for some reason, and they have our game as the top B1G game of the week. The key matchup:

Cal NT Deandre Coleman has All-Pac-12 potential and Northwestern's Trevor Vitabile is the best center in the Big Ten, which should make for some fun times in the middle of the line.

Uh, that's Brandon Vitabile, dude who apparently writes about the NFL draft. Might want to get that name right.

* NU former walk-on Mike Jensen is a stand-up guy. I interviewed him a couple of years ago for SoP, and now he's a senior in the starting line-up! And according to this Trib piece, he's one of four married dudes on the roster.

* Bowl predictions! BTN's Tom Dienhart has his first look at how the B1G bowl lineup will go, and he's got NU in yet another New Years Day bowl, the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. Guess who he has not bowling? Yep, Iowa and Illinois.

* Recruiting hype! The Trib has a write-up on Glenbard North's Justin Jackson, a 4-star running back who has verbally committed to Northwestern. He plays both ways for his high school team, so conditioning's a big thing--

On many mornings he was up around 5:30 to sneak in a workout in before lifting weights with teammates at 8 a.m.

He does it with one goal in mind — to get better.

"He has high expectations for himself," Wilkens said. "He competes; every drill, he competes. He refuses to fail. Bottom line, he wants to win."

* He's not just a video guy. NUHighlights, the man responsible for the outstanding video highlight reels following every NU win, has a nice essay on InsideNU.com on the Wildcats' path to respectability and raised expectations.

The media is putting many Northwestern fans in an awkward position. We’re entering the season ranked for the first time since 2001 after being so used to relishing underdog status. One LA Times and syndicated Tribune writer even ranked us at #10 in his top 25 preview. We’ll see how the team reacts to these new external expectations, but I’m also intrigued by how the fan base will react.

* And some men's basketball stuff. The Sports Bank has been ranking the top 111 teams in NCAA basketball, and whew, we're on his list. The bad news is, he's got us #75, which is > 68, and looks like we'll spend another March wondering what all the fuss is about.

* We'll close with this:

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