Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
What's gonna happen when Northwestern plays Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl? Nobody can know for sure, but we can guess poorly.
Bowl season is bigger and better, so here are bigger, less-based-in-fact-more-based-on-hunch STATEMENTS about what will happen on the field Jan. 1.
Northwestern will run a trick play: In regular season ball, Pat Fitzgerald likes to think inside the box. He's been great about going for it on fourth downs and done some intriguing stuff with personnel, but for the most part, he keeps things plain and simple.
When bowl season comes around, he's a different beast. In the 2010 Outback Bowl, he ran a WR end-around pass for a two-point conversion, then the fumblerooskie in overtime that came up short. In the 2011 TicketCity Bowl, he surprised everybody by playing Kain Colter at wide receiver, a position he's played on-and-off for the past two years but hadn't before. Then, in the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas - years are stupid, by the way - he once again ran a WR end-around pass for a two-point conversion.
If there's ever a time for a team to run an out of the ordinary play that can catch opponents off guard and give a team easy points, the time is bowl season. Sure, a free touchdown is nice against Iowa, but it's nicer when you have a chance to end a 60-year streak. Look for a gadget.
Kyle Prater will score a touchdown: MARK MY WORDS, Y'ALL. That convo was fun in the comments about how Kyle Prater is the worst, but it turns out he's not. He's just Northwestern's fifth or sixth wide receiver at this point in his career, and as a seldom-utilized target in a rush-heavy offense, he's only had like two-ish opportunities to go deep all year, and one of them was a massive Trevor Siemian underthrow. (The only real "deep ball" Northwestern has connected on this year was a wobbler to Christian Jones against Iowa.) Prater just needs to get loose once to redeem a sub-par first year in purple.
Mississippi State will have under 100 yards rushing: They've struggled moving the ball of late on the ground, and Northwestern's run defense is pretty good. The Cats will be waiting to tee off on LaDarius Perkins. Whether they can stop them in the air is a different story.
Northwestern won't win the turnover battle: Northwestern has been the benefactors of tremendous luck in the turnover department all year long. All in all, the Wildcats ended up committing 12 turnovers while getting 25 takeaways. Eight times, Northwestern committed less turnovers than they forced. Some of that is skill, but it's also hearty amounts of poor play by opposing teams and luck.
Mississippi State isn't one to turn the ball over. They've forced 30 turnovers while committing only 13, and have also had luck on their side: while fumbles should be roughly 50-50 propositions, they've jumped on top of 14 of 18 balls put on the ground by their opponents. Like NU, they're ballhawks on defense and stingy with it on offense. There's either going to be no turnovers or Mississippi State will come away with the ball more.
Northwestern will win or lose: I'm not gonna be the one to jinx it, guys.
WHAT ARE YOUR DUMB PREDICTIONS, FRIENDS?