Since Brendan wanted to neither preview nor review the Michigan/Alabama game he attended last weekend, this weekend’s Vanderbilt/Northwestern matchup will be ALDLAND’s first live-covered football game of the season. I, along with CFB preview podcast guest Marcus and VSL‘s Bobby O’Shea, will be in Evanston this weekend for the meeting of these two institutionally similar teams.
In the abstract, both teams represent the smallest and only private schools in two of the nation’s biggest conferences. As the modified graphic above indicates, this isn’t the first time the Commodores and Wildcats have met to play FOOTBALL. Some light googling indicates that these two schools have met three times, and each has a 1-1-1 record against the other. This season, both teams have a record that, at least vis-a-vis this weekend’s game, probably is misleading. Vanderbilt is 0-1 after a close loss to a top-ten, in-conference opponent in a game they at least could have won. Northwestern is 1-0 on the strength of a 42-41 shootout win over one-time-sort-of-powerhouse-ish Syracuse. I’m not saying they should’ve lost to the Orange, but I am saying that their surrender of 41 points and the final possession to CNY’s favoritest tells me more than them posting 42 on a Big East defense, to say nothing of the margin of victory. (And their otherwise feisty supporters seem to agree.)
On Wednesday, Vanderbilt was a 3.5-point favorite on the road, and the line hasn’t moved since. Given the high hopes in Commodore Country James Franklin has built since his arrival before last season and the sense around the Midwest that Northwestern, while not a doormat, has plateaued, this feels a bit narrow. Still, NW will make a formidable host for the visitors, for whom this is an important game they absolutely should win on their way to higher heights back in the SEC. As O’Shea writes in his preview this week, a win in the Chicago suburbs would be a strong statement to the Black & Gold’s national recruiting base as well.
As with last year, find us on Twitter during the game, and come back here for a recap afterwards.
B1G Roadtrippin’: Michigan at Northwestern