Whether or not you watched the game last weekend, you heard that score.
The Northwestern Wildcats, a seemingly fruitless squad, handed Penn State their first loss of the season in overwhelming fashion at the Lyons’ homecoming game.
Not even ten minutes into the game, quarterback Trevor Siemian ran for a touchdown. By the end of the first quarter, the ‘Cats had posted 14 answered points against a powerful Big 10 defense. The team ranked dead last in the conference by ESPN finally started showing some claws.
Our defense, led by Chi Ch Ariguzo, Nick VanHoose and Dean Lowry, controlled the field that first quarter and beyond. Freshman Xavier Washington sacked PSU’s QB Christian Hackenberg, forcing a fumble. And of course Anthony Walker picked off Hackenberg for a 49-yard run into the end zone.
On the offensive side, we started addressing errors that plagued the first three games, like poor decisions in the pocket and overthrowing to receivers. Miles Shuler had a 42-yard punt return and Siemian completed over 70 percent of his passes in the first quarter.
We also capitalized on the Lyons’ mistakes, which included a missed field goal and a lineman blocking his own teammate.
But we made plenty of mistakes as well, with two missed extra points and a penalty for roughing the punter. Siemian also failed keep up the momentum after his big start; he was 21 for 37 by the end of the game.
This Saturday we face off against Wisconsin, a team that’s currently 3-1 and also hasn’t won in Evanston since 1999. If the defense can hold its own again and give the offense a cushion so they can focus on ironing out the kinks, the Badgers may have to wait another year to claim victory at Ryan Field.
So, does all this mean we’re good now?
It’s hard to say we’ve pulled a 180 after just one win, albeit an impressive one. Coach Fitz best answered the question in the post-game interview: “We’re an immature football team that’s maturing in front of our eyes.”
We may not be certifiably good yet, but we’re certainly growing up.