CFN Gator Analysis - NWestern 34, Miss St 20
Posted Jan 1, 2013

CFN's thoughts and analysis on Northwestern FINALLY winning a bowl game again

Richard Cirminiello

Go ahead and party like it's 1949, Northwestern. You've earned it after snapping a nine-game losing streak in bowl games.

Hard not to feel good for Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald, one of the really good guys in the business, who has waited a very long time to bring a bowl win to this school. The fact that Northwestern defeated an SEC opponent in a historically significant game makes the outcome even sweeter.

After watching a lot of Tyler Russell in 2012, I can say unequivocally that the Bulldogs quarterback is not nearly as bad as he looked this afternoon, throwing four picks and a couple of others that could have been intercepted. Off day for the junior, but also Northwestern prepared extremely well, and was air-tight in coverage.

For those who didn't witness much of Northwestern this season, the team lost to three Big Ten opponents with winning records. And led all three of those games in the final quarter. Can someone coordinate an exhibition between the Wildcats and Northern Illinois, which are separated by only 70 miles.

Don't be deceived by the uniqueness of his name. Northwestern's Chi Chi Ariguzo is not a flamenco dancer. He's one of the Big Ten's more underrated linebackers and a big reason why Mississippi State RB Ladarius Perkins had a quiet start to his New Year.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

-Taxes weren't the only things being slayed today. FINALLY--We can now thank Pat Fitzgerald because we'll never have to hear how Northwestern has won only one bowl game, and is in the midst of nine straight bowl losses again. That streak came mercifully to an end with the victory over Mississippi State.

- Can we now agree that the Bulldogs simply weren't that great this year. MSU made magic hay against a very, very weak early schedule. It got out of the gates fast against ponies rather than real-live horses. In their first seven games--all victories-- the Bulldogs' best win was against Tennessee. After graduating to big-boy football, Mississippi State tripped across the finish line--losing five of its last six.

- What a solid year for Northwestern. Pat Fitzerald is known as a very good coach, but it is simply amazing how the Wildcats just keep showing solid seasons year after year. With high academic standards, the recruiting classes won't make you do a second take. Yet still, Fitzgerald takes his team to a bowl game nearly every year.

- There are plenty of games to go still, but the Big Ten--despite being the brunt of many jokes this year--is having a solid showing in the bowls thus far. It was the underdog in each and every bowl matchup yet has pushed out of the starting blocks with two wins and just one loss after this one.

- What happened to Tyler Russell in this game? Posters were made for his ability to take care of the football going in, but the four completions he threw to Wildcat defenders likely cost his team the game.