Pickin’ On the Big Ten, Week 1: Appalachian State and Other Disasters

California at Northwestern

pat fitzgerald

Northwestern was not good last year, but Cal was just plain terrible. We didn’t know either of those things before last season’s opening day matchup, a game that Northwestern won handily. Sonny Dykes accused Northwestern of faking injuries in the second half (the Cats probably didn’t fake the injuries, in my opinion).

This season we have reason to suspect that neither team will be all that good. Cal finished 1-11 last season. Teams don’t leap from that to respectability without a season or two intervening. Northwestern will have to deal with the sudden departure of its one completely reliable offensive weapon, Venric Mark, who has decamped to West Texas A&M. The Cats faithful are putting a happy face on things but there is no way Mark’s transfer won’t seriously affect Northwestern’s season. The only positive spin you can put on it is that the “Northwestern is distracted by the unionization vote” narrative is derailed.

It won’t matter in this game, because I’m guessing Cal is still going to be terrible.

Pick: Northwestern 30, California 7

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