I was working yesterday, so I couldn't get my typical YOOOO POLLS IS OUT post up, but I still feel like a day later, we should talk about this.
Well, not "this" -- nothing particularly surprising itself happened in the AP and Coaches Polls. In the AP, NU jumped a Notre Dame squad that couldn't stop Michigan, a Florida squad that turned the ball over five damn times in a loss to Miami, and a Texas squad which, well, everybody who complained about why Texas was so high in the preseason polls was right and preseason polls are dumb, and were passed by the Miami team that forced those five turnovers against Miami, although perhaps "allowed to happen" is a better term for a Florida offense that seemed aggressively displeased with the idea of holding the ball. The Coaches poll is the same, but Northwestern also jumps UCLA for reasons that don't seem particularly clear.
The chaff above Northwestern has, for the most part, cleared out. I'd probably give more confidence to every one of the teams above Northwestern than I have in Northwestern. (Except maybe you, Nebraska at No. 15 in the Coaches poll.)
This all doesn't matter, because it's Week 2, it's where you finish that counts, and, dammit, Northwestern finished No. 16 last year. So we still got work to do.
What matters, in my eyes, is that Northwestern's schedule came with a conditional reward. You know, "if you get good grades, Timmy, you'll buy you this bicycle," "if you don't violate this probation in the next 180 days, [joke about the first name of a player Urban Meyer has coached because jokes], you won't receive any jail time:"
The Wildcats get an opportunity to play a marquee matchup against an elite Ohio State squad. I can't promise they'll seize this opportunity, but after managing to go a whole season without a game against a ranked opponent last year, we'll be fine with the opportunity to make headlines.
However, they had to make it to OSU at 4-0. That road featured two very notable chances to fail, against Cal and Syracuse. One went sloppily, but NU still managed to win by 14 against the Golden Bears despite injuries. The other was a laugher, with NU legitimately trouncing the Orange.
Next up are Western Michigan and Maine. I don't know whose decision it was to make the Wildcats' non-conference schedule a steady talent decrescendo, but a) it's really harshing my ability to get hype and b) somebody should have told them Maine could possibly beat Western Michigan on a neutral field. These are not so much speed bumps as... acceleration anthills?
To the Northwestern Wildcats, these two games are important. They allow the team to continue establishing a game-week rhythm. They allow Venric Mark to get healthy. They allow Dwight White two more weeks to realize that he is now a starter for a college football team.
To us fans, they're not completely irrelevant either. There are things about this team to learn, and, as a reminder, Northwestern went 351,379,382 years without winning a single football game and we're going to be damned if we ignore a team winning even a single game. Sip, guys, don't chug.
But from a storyline perspective, that fast forward button has already been hit, and we can't slow it down until we see Oct. 5 under the lights.
NU will probably move to 4-0, and as the (very good) teams above them lose, they will probably move into the top 15 of the standings over the next three weeks. And then, after some modest intrigue during the prologue, it'll time for the legitimate narrative to begin.
Do I need to post the Bart Scott video, or will one of you post the .GIF in the comments?
Oh, by the way, here is the full AP poll:
|4||Ohio State (1)||2-0||1,327||3|
|Others Receiving Votes: Arizona State 64, Michigan State 26, Texas 26, Fresno State 26, Northern Illinois 21, Virginia Tech 15, Brigham Young 14, Georgia Tech 10, Illinois 9, Arizona 9, Penn State 7, Bowling Green 7, Boise State 3, Tennessee 1|