2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Northwestern at BC
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Sept. 3 Northwestern 24 … at Boston College 17
CFN Analysis: Northwestern came up with a … running game? Without Dan Persa, whose Achilles heel just isn’t quite ready yet, the Wildcats had to rely on more players and more diversity to get the offense moving, and while Kain Colter did his part completing 17-of-24 passes for 197 yards with a pick, and he ran for 71 yards and a touchdown, Mike Trumpy and Adonis Smith helped the cause. After so many problems against the run late last year, holding BC to 104 yards was a plus, even with Montel Harris out. With Eastern Illinois and Army up next, 3-0 is a must before getting an offweek to prepare for Illinois.
The Eagles got the offense, and they got the production needed from Chase Rettig and the passing game along with Andre Williams, who filled in for an injured Montel Harris, and the ground attack, but the points were too hard to come by. The offensive line didn’t have its best game and the sustained drives weren’t there on a consistent basis, but the Eagles didn’t take advantage of all their chances. This isn’t going to be an explosive offense, and it can’t come up with empty drives; Nate Freese has to hit all his field goal attempts. With UCF up next, BC has to turn the passing game into points, and that should happen if Ifeanyi Momah can come up with more games like this one – catching eight passes for 157 yards.
(AP) BOSTON -- Backup Kain Colter threw for 197 yards and ran for 71 more with a touchdown on Saturday to lead Northwestern to a 24-17 victory over Boston College in the season opener.
Colter completed 17 of 24 passes and Northwestern won for the first time since Dan Persa ruptured his Achilles tendon last Nov. 13. Persa, who had been touted as a Heisman Trophy contender by the school, was a late scratch.
Andre Williams, who replaced the injured Montel Harris, ran 22 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Luke Kuechly had 19 tackles, two for a loss, and an interception for BC.
BC brought the ball to the Northwestern 19 with 18 seconds left before a false start moved them back and took 10 seconds off the clock. Chase Rettig was sacked by Vince Browne on the final play and remained on the field for several minutes.
Ifeanyi Momah caught eight passes for 157 yards for the Eagles, but Nate Freese missed a pair of field goals. Rettig, a sophomore who took over as the started midway through last season, completed 24 of 44 passes for 375 yards with one interception, but he couldn't find anyone open on the game's final play.
Persa led the nation in completion percentage and total offense last year before he had surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon Nov. 13; Northwestern lost its final three games, including the TicketCity Bowl. Boston College was without Harris, the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason player of the year.
Neither absence seemed like much of a setback.
Harris' replacement, Andre Williams, broke free for 69 yards on the first play from scrimmage. But BC settled for a field goal, and got nothing on its next trip inside the Northwestern 15 when Freese missed a 31-yard field goal.
The Eagles made it 10-3 when Kuechly intercepted Colter and ran it back to the Wildcats' 3 yard-line. After a penalty, Williams scored on a 6-yard run to give BC the lead.
Colter tied it when he ran it in himself from 3 yards out to complete a 10-play, 80-yard drive just before the half and then led Northwestern on another just like it to start the second. Mike Trumpy scored on a 5-yard run to give the Wildcats a 17-10 lead, and they went up 24-10 on a perfect option pitch from Colter to Adonis Smith with 9:24 left.
Rettig hit Momah for 38 yards to the 2, and two plays later Williams ran it in to make it 24-17 with 6 minutes left. But Northwestern stopped the Eagles on fourth-and-10 with under 3 minutes left, and by the time BC got the ball back there was 1:37 left and they were on their own 36.
After an intentional grounding left the Eagles with third-and-16 from their own 30, Rettig brought them to the Northwestern 19 with 18 seconds left. But there was movement before the snap on the left side of the offensive line, resulting in a 5-yard penalty and a mandatory 10 second runoff from the clock.
With 4 seconds left, Rettig rolled right but could not get rid of the ball before Browne steamrolled him to end the game.
Northwestern (0-0) vs. Boston College (0-0)
Sept. 3, 12:00, ESPNU
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Here’s The Deal … Chestnut Hill will be the stage for the return of Northwestern’s Dan Persa, the All-Big Ten quarterback who missed the end of 2010 with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. His presence in the huddle gives hope to a Wildcats program that’s after more than just a fourth consecutive postseason appearance. Pat Fitzgerald’s team, which was 7-3 before Persa was shelved, believes it has the personnel to be the surprise of the Legends Division. Boston College also finished 7-6 a year ago, but with a very different trajectory. The Eagles, using true freshman Chase Rettig behind center, went on a tear with five consecutive wins to close out the regular season. Now that the green quarterback is a year riper, BC is hoping a sluggish offense can narrow the divide on the salty D. With a little more pop in the passing game, the Eagles could be an ACC Atlantic threat in Frank Spaziani’s third year at the helm.
Why Northwestern Might Win: Will Persa need to shake off some rust? Of course, but the senior has prepared in the offseason to be ready for this moment. Plus, he won’t have to test the injury too much against an Eagle defense that has issues creating pressure. The pocket will be well-protected by LT Al Netter, C Ben Burkett and one of the nation’s most experienced lines. With time, Persa can survey the field and pick up top targets, WR Jeremy Ebert and TE Drake Dunsmore. And if the Wildcats can dictate the tempo of the game on offense, it’ll drag Boston College into the kind of game its own attack can’t win.
Why Boston College Might Win: While the Eagles want Rettig to evolve as a sophomore, they won’t necessarily need him to match Persa on Saturday. Boston College will be content to liberally feed Andre Williams, the talented feature back until Montel Harris returns from a knee injury. The sophomore proved at the end of last season to be capable of shouldering the load, and will be thrust into the soft areas of a vulnerable Northwestern defense. The Wildcats will lose the battle at the line of scrimmage, particularly versus a BC line that excels in run blocking. If Fitzgerald presses his troops too close to the line, Rettig will hook up with TE Chris Pantale and WR Bobby Swigert on intermediate routes.
What To Watch Out For: Northwestern would like to spring someone on the ground other than Persa, especially since it’s the quarterback’s first game back. However, the Wildcats are more likely to be one-dimensional against one of the country’s top run defenses. The Eagles are fundamentally sound on D, with linebackers Luke Kuechly and Kevin Pierre-Louis covering huge chunks of the field. When Boston College has the ball, someone will need to get a hat on Northwestern DE Vince Browne, who’s capable of forcing Rettig into turnovers.
What Will Happen: Persa is terrific, but he’s also coming back from a serious injury. And a road test versus a rugged Boston College D won’t exactly be easing back into action. While he’ll show flashes of his first-half of 2010 form, it won’t be enough to pull out a physical, low-scoring alley fight. The Eagles will try to bully their visitors from wire-to-wire, wearing them down on both sides of the ball. Williams will excel as the focal point on the ground with 100 yards and a couple of scores on the ground.
CFN Prediction: Boston College 24 … Northwestern 17
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Boston College -3 O/U: 46.5
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