November 21, 2007

2007 Year in Review

Inconsistent teams are often called Jekyll-and-Hyde, but that term doesn't begin to do justice to the 2007 Northwestern Wildcats, a team that was even inconsistent in its inconsistency. Yes, this was beyond a bipolar team - these Cats had multiple personality disorder.

Consider the rollercoaster that was the Wildcats' season. Not only did Northwestern exhibit a balanced ledger of strengths and weaknesses; these Wildcats' strengths often became weaknesses, and weaknesses strengths, from week-to-week.

For much of the year, the Cats' trademark was finishing strong, coming back in the fourth quarter to beat Nevada, Minnesota and Indiana, and in overtime to beat Michigan State. Yet, Northwestern also earned a reputation for failing to close out opponents, losing games against Michigan, Purdue and Iowa after taking leads into to the fourth quarter, and having its comeback fall short in a loss to - gulp - Duke.

Northwestern's offense, especially, displayed its split personality in myriad ways. The Wildcats had the top offense in the Big Ten, racking up 427.7 yards per game. Yet they were ranked just 10th in scoring offense because they failed to execute in the red zone and turned the ball over far too often. The Wildcats always strive for balance in their spread offensive attack, but they finished first in passing and last in rushing in the conference. One of their basic tenets is "respecting the football," yet they finished an ugly minus-9 in turnover margin on the season, second-worst in the Big Ten.

Quarterback C.J. Bacher took WildcatReport's Most Valuable Player Award for finishing first in the Big Ten in passing and total offense and setting a new Northwestern single-season passing record of 3,656 yards. But he also threw 19 interceptions, tied with Minnesota's Adam Weber for the most in the conference.

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