It’s time for another rousing edition of Across the Web! This week, we chatted up our buddies over at Lake the Posts about the Ohio State @ Northwestern game. Enjoy!
The Buckeye Battle Cry: The Bye Week couldn’t have come at a better time for Northwestern, who’ve had some injury issues this season. How’s the health of Kain Colter and the rest of the Wildcats heading into B1G play?
Lake the Posts: Depends on who you ask. The stats for bye week teams is less than flattering. Kain Colter is fine after missing the Cal game with a concussion. The real focus has been on Venric Mark, who ‘Cats fans haven’t seen since the Cal game (he took a few snaps, but hasn’t played since). The vague “lower body” injury, which we know to be a hamstring injury, has sidelined our first All-American in eight seasons. Mark is a gamechanger. ‘Cats fans are worried that he hasn’t had game reps and now has to make his first real significant appearance on this stage after 5 weeks out. After watching OSU’s “D” against Wisconsin’s RBs, there is reason for concern.
tBBC: Pat Fitzgerald is a defensive guru by nature, but the Wildcat offense is what makes the headlines. Who are two standouts on the defensive side of the ball?
LtP: The defense has been only average so far this year, albeit with very mysterious and ultra conservative play-calling. NU fans are convinced that the NU coaching staff has been sandbagging it, knowing they can win the non-conference without showing much in preparation to spring things on OSU. Ibraheim Campbell at safety has Sunday certainty in his future. He’s a junior with a ton of experience (started as freshman), jumps routes, makes great reads and is an all-around gamesaver in our secondary. I’ll also point out DE Tyler Scott, who is the B1G’s leading sack returner from a year ago. High motor, wears guys down and seems to make big plays. We’ve got a lot of above average guys who seem to step up when we need them to. LB Chi Chi Ariguzo seems to always find himself in the middle of a takeaway play.
tBBC: Trevor Siemian has played fairly well at QB since coming on, unfortunately, due to Kain Coulter’s health situation. Is Siemian locked in as starter, or will Coulter get some starts if his health improves?
LtP: Actually, Kain had a concussion in week one, but the dual QB thing is very intentional. Siemian has better downfield accuracy and Kain is incredible on the read option. They get interspersed throughout the game. I expect to see them on the field on the same series, with Kain going to WR at times. Kain usually starts and Trevor gets worked in. Based on what the defense presents, usually dictates the split of touches.
tBBC: The Wildcat seems to be well balanced and efficient this season. Treyvon Green (101 YPG) is the workhorse runner and The Jones Boys (Tony and Christian) are the main receiving targets. Is there anyone else on offense that the Buckeyes need to watch?
LtP: Uhhh..yeah. That All-American, Venric Mark (see above). ‘Cats fans are salivating to see him out there again. He’s Devin Hester-like on PRs and he put up 1366 rushing yards last year. He’s lightning quick and is the key to the read option with Kain Colter. Also, Dan Vitale, the super back (TE/FB) is a great receiver and came on huge at the end of his freshman year. I expect a huge game from him making downfield catches. He presents match-up nightmares for folks.
tBBC: On occasion, Ryan Field has been a place where visiting fans often create a large presence; Ohio State has seen this in the past, and there was a ton of red when Nebraska visited last year. This is Homecoming in Evanston, do you see this changing for Saturday?
LtP: Sigh. OSU fans have no idea about this issue. It kills us. With only 8,000 students we lust for a student presence like you have. Yes, attendance is steadily rising, but compared to OSU, it’s puny. I do expect about 10,000 more purple than we would’ve had otherwise since you guys buy up season tickets so fast and use them for this one game. Make no mistake, the scarlet and gray will have a heavy presence. We’re at the point now where we average close to 40,000 in our 47,330-seat stadium. Nebraska was a fan low point in the Fitz era.
tBBC: Other than the end of the stupidity that was “Leaders” and “Legends”, what are your feelings about B1G reconfiguration heading into next season?
LtP: It’s hard to argue the west isn’t significantly easier than the east right now. Northwestern, along with Nebraska and Wisconsin would figure to be the top three. It’s nice to get Purdue and Indiana back on the schedule. Candidly, it sets up very nicely for us, which is good, because we’ve added the likes of Stanford, Cal and Notre Dame to future schedules.
tBBC: Gameday is coming! What are the chances that Desmond Howard can be dealt with “The Chicago Way”? We’d certainly consider it a favor, and it would be a great service to humanity.
LtP: Hmmm…not sure what “the Chicago way” means. (Ed- Seriously?) I’m a fan of Desmond as I’ve met him a few times. Just know you’ll become big NU fans on 11/16 when we face Desmond’s alma mater in the revenge for the Hail Mary game. I still can’t believe we lost that freakin’ game. (Ed – We’ll be rootin’ for you!)
tBBC: The last time Ohio State visited Ryan Field for a nationally televised night game, it ended well for Northwestern. How do you see Saturday’s game playing out?
LtP: I really, really hope we step up in to the limelight. Candidly, Fitz-era teams have not done well against ranked opponents. And, well, if you’re a 40-year old Wildcat, you’ve been alive for all of one NU victory in the series (that is just sick). I expect OSU to jump out big, NU to rally as OSU gets lulled to sleep and the Buckeyes to pull away late. However, I’ve come to know I have no clue when it comes to predicting games and I really hope for a competitive fun game. Screw that. I want this one – badly. NU fans have circled it on the calendar for two years now.
After last year’s three heartbreak losses, we’re due to pull out a close one.
Thanks for joining us guys!