5 Questions: Northwestern

Five questions about Northwestern are answered by PurpleWildcats.com publisher Nick Medline.

1.) With so many expectations coming into the year, describe the mood in Evanston at the moment with the recent losing streak.

"It's grim in Evanston at this point. About one month ago, Northwestern led Ohio State in the fourth quarter on College GameDay, but since then, the success evaporated. The Wildcats suffered from untimely poor quarterback play, a lousy offensive line and some occasional defensive lapses. And right now, people truly doubt this fan. Casual fans–from what I've heard–are disappearing. They expected victories, and an 8-4 season at the very least. Now, Northwestern needs to crack bowl contention. Some fans are sticking around. Otherwise, it's difficult to believe in this Wildcats team; they badly let down our expectations."

2.) The running back position has been a hard one to track, what do you expect this Saturday?

"Another theme, sadly, has been the injuries. Three Northwestern running backs were listed as inactive for Saturday's game, leaving only Treyvon Green and Stephen Buckley in the backfield to take on the maligned Nebraska run defense. Green had an outstanding September, and was then limited by some minor injuries. Buckley, meanwhile, broke onto the scene against Minnesota—when he racked up 58 yards and a touchdown in his first significant action. Last week, eh almost reached the 100-yard plateau, and earns the "speedy back" label. These two need to have some big-time games (and avoid injuries), or else Northwestern will get blown out on Saturday."

3.) Northwestern lost a heart breaker last year to Nebraska, has that game up a lot this week and if so, is fueling extra motivation for the Wildcats??

"Northwestern seems more comfortable in recalling the 2011 game, when the Wildcats (just 3-5) went on the road and showed some emotional toughness. After an outstanding performance by Kain Colter, they knocked off then-No. 10 Nebraska. The Wildcats need all the confidence they can get this weekend, mired in a four-game losing streak. They're struggling at times on the practice field to maintain their composure. It's been difficult on the team, but they want, simply, to remember what it's like to win. The Wildcats do benefit from strong defensive leadership, with guys like Tyler Scott, Ibraheim Campbell and Damien Proby trying to keep the team focused."

4.) Give us a name that Nebraska fans should be ready for on defense?

"On the defensive side of the ball, Nebraska fans should watch true freshman cornerback Matt Harris. The former three-star local player arrived on campus and burned his redshirt before the first game—a rarity for Pat Fitzgerald-coached teams. Then, he quickly climbed his way into the starting lineup, an experiment that began last week. He tackles well, shows terrific maturity and could be an impact–or even All-Big Ten–player for years to come. It's been the offense hurting Northwestern; the defense is holding up in large part due to a strong youth core."

5.) Your prediction and why?

"I have absolutely no confidence in Northwestern anymore. The Wildcats are certainly not who we thought they were. I expect Tommy Armstrong to find some success, and for the Nebraska offense to move the ball easily. If Northwestern throws the ball well and thrives on the two-RB system, the team could make this a contest. Otherwise, the Huskers can get back on track against this struggling Northwestern team. — Nebraska 38, Northwestern 24

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Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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