Yes, the Northwestern Wildcats are 5-0 and ranked in the top 25!
They are walking on water having thrown just 3 TD for the entire season thus far. Kain Colter has been used as a receiver and running back, which only makes it more amazing to see them come out on top after September.
The Wildcats offense has been productive thanks to special teams and a guy named Venric Mark, who has been electric for Pat Fitzgerald.
Mark has 7 TD right now and is currently second in the nation averaging 25.83 yards per punt return (TCU’s Grey is 1st).
Northwestern does all the little things flawlessly averaging just 5.40 penalties per game, which ranks 37th in the nation (PSU is 20th, 4.40 per game).
Matt McGloin has thrown for 10 TD (2 INT) and 1,217 yards which has finally given the Nittany Lions the punch offensively to enable them to achieve solid success (despite having them go 5-7, looking like 7-5 or better).
While McGloin has really improved this team offensively, the backfield has come out of nowhere to give them the 86th ranked rushing team. While that is still borderline brutal, this rushing attack was actually expected to be a lot worse after several transfers (none bigger than Silas Redd).
Zach Zwinak has 196 yards and 2 TD, but the depth behind has been solid (Zordich, Belton, Dukes). The passing attack has been carried by sophomore Allen Robinson, who has hauled in 32 passes for 429 yards and 5 TD.
The defense is what has carried this team towards early season success, and the duo of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. The two have been the Big Ten’s best duo and clogging the middle of the line has been Jordan Hill (1 sack, 1 tackle for loss).
Mauti leads the team in tackles (48) and interceptions (2), but he is even second in tackle for losses as well (2.5). Playing at a near All-American level, we did not discredit the talent by the Nitanny Lions defense we just doubted their focus and ability to come through with the albatross of an offseason.
It was the worst offseason in college football’s history, but head coach Bill O’Brien has be up there for Coach of the Year if he continues to pull off victories despite being ineligible for a Big Ten title or any sort of postseason berth.
Both of these teams are among the Big Ten’s best right and while they may not look the part on paper, the conference would be nowhere without them. Ohio State is still ineligible which makes this one of the more important games in the month of October for the Big Ten.
Being at home, Penn State’s defense should bottle up a sneaky good ‘Cats squad, so give me the Nittany Lions in a Big Ten squeaker.
Time: Noon Eastern
Experts Pick: PSU by 3
Danny V’s Pick: Penn State 24, Northwestern 17