All of the analysis and ephemera for this week’s meeting between the Huskers and Wildcats can be found below. Welcome to Encyclopedia Athletica, Northwestern edition.
BELL, KENNY – Nebraska’s top wide receiver, with a little luck, could become the first Huskers receiver in school history to top 1000 yards in a season. He’ll likely need a bowl game, and maybe the Big Ten title game, to do it, but it’s possible. Bell comes into the game averaging 23.15 yards per catch, tops in the country. It would only be just if Bell had a big game this week. Last year his childhood friend, Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, came in and stole the show in the Lincoln. Be nice to repay the favor.
CLOCK TOWER, THE — The clock tower at the Rebecca Crown Center on campus glows purple following every football victory and stays purple until the Wildcats lose. Nebraska fans in Chicago will be hoping to walk out to a white clock tower after Saturday.
COLORS — Purple and white since 1851. The athletic department made a minor switch in 2009, darkening the purple from “royal” to just plain purple which is better. Personally, I’m just happy Nebraska gets to play a Big Ten team that isn’t red. Makes identifying friends and foes so much easier.
COLTER, KAIN – QB 1A is the Wildcats’ running threat. He also, according to defensive coordinator John Papuchis, might be Northwestern’s best receiver. He’ll play there too. While running back Venric Mark is pretty dangerous, Colter is the guy Nebraska needs to stop on Saturday. The easiest way to do that? Put Northwestern in pure passing downs. They have a different quarterback for that. (See Also: SIEMIAN, TREVOR)
FIELD POSITION — Football’s a simple game and few things matter as much as where you get the ball on the field. It’s been a struggle for Nebraska so far this season. On statistically significant drives — no garbage time, no kneel downs — the Huskers rank second to last (and 97th nationally) in average starting field position. Defensively, Nebraska’s opponents have had the second-best average starting field position. That equation needs to flip for Nebraska. It may not seem like a huge deal given how successful Nebraska’s offense has been, but if this game is close watch where the Huskers are starting from. It’s one of the most certain predictors of success out there.
FIGHT SONG — “Go U Northwestern” is the most popular fight song though it occasionally loses that crown to the somewhat frighteningly titled “Rise Northwestern.” (It doesn’t sound like this, but that’s what it makes me think of.) Appropriately enough, “Go U Northwestern” is sort of like the purple of fight songs: Nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not really for me.
LAKE THE POSTS — Northwestern’s rallying cry came from one of the most fun traditions in college football. In 1982 Northwestern beat Northern Illinois, ending a then record 33-game losing streak. The students tore down the goalposts and, here’s the great part, threw them in Lake Michigan. The Big Ten Network has the full story below:
MOTTO — The official Northwester University seal features the following: Quaecumque Sunt Vera. Just seeing the word “quaecumque” — which, I must admit, is sort of absurdly beautiful — sent me spiraling back to bad memories of college Latin. The motto itself is translated as: “Whatsoever things are true.” It’s part of a longer quote from Philippians which finishes with “…think on these things.” Pretty good motto for Northwester, I think.
SERIES HISTORY – Saturday’s game is just the sixth all-time meeting between Nebraska and Northwestern. The Huskers have a 3-2 edge in the series. This will be Nebraska’s first trip to Evanston since 1931, a game that had “Scarface Al” Capone in attendance. Really. According to a UPI report, he was not given a warm welcome, receiving a round of boos when he left prior to the fourth quarter. Or, as the paper put it, “the cheers were bronx.”
SIEMIAN, TREVOR – QB 1B is the Wildcat’s passing threat. Siemian struggled last week against Minnesota, going for 1-for-7 on the day, but that as much to do with the Gophers’ coverage than any of his own errors. Siemian is more than capable of fitting the ball into tight openings but he’s not particularly fast and can be mostly ignored in the run game. That makes him the quarterback the Huskers would prefer to see this week. (See Also: COLTER, KAIN)
UNIFORMS –Nebraska is pulling off a rare double here, playing two teams in one season who have a namesake stripe. It didn’t go so well against UCLA – progenitors of the UCLA stripe – but Saturday’s a new day.
Northwestern’s Northwestern stripe is placed right on the chest this year. Cheers to the designers for highlighting its connection to the school, but it does make their football jerseys look like soccer kits. That’s not all bad, but I have a hard time deciding if its great or terrible. Either way, the Wildcats will be debuting black jerseys for the first time this season on Saturday.