Northwestern focusing on Minnesota, not on Big Ten title
BY SETH GRUEN Staff Reporter October 13, 2013 9:46PM
Pat Siemian, Pat Muldoon
Updated: October 14, 2013 12:02AM
When asked what effect their 35-6 loss Saturday at Wisconsin would have on their chances of
going to the Big Ten championship game, Northwestern’s players tried to steer the conversation toward their next game against Minnesota.
But it’s hard to believe they didn’t at least think about the possibility that a chance at a conference title might have slipped away.
‘‘We’ve had the mind-set from the get-go that it’s one game at a time,’’ quarterback Trevor Siemian said. ‘‘Yeah, we’ve dug ourselves a nice little hole here, but we’ve got to get ready for Minnesota.’’
Luckily for the Wildcats (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten), their conference losses have come against Ohio State and Wisconsin, both of which are in the Leaders Division.
NU has its entire Legends Divi-
sion schedule remaining, but it likely will need to win the rest of its games to have a realistic chance to play in the Big Ten title game Dec. 7 in Indianapolis.
If the Wildcats were to win their remaining six games, they would vault ahead of every team in their division — except for Michigan State and Nebraska — by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Spartans and Cornhuskers are the only Legends Division teams with a 2-0 record in the conference. Should NU win out, it will have beaten both teams. But even if that should happen, Michigan State and Nebraska will have to lose another conference game for the Wildcats to force a tiebreaker.
First things first, though. NU must make adjustments in every phase of its game. Wisconsin is talented, and that was a big reason the Wildcats didn’t play well Saturday. But NU coach Pat Fitzgerald said the right plays were called several times; it just came down to a lack of execution.
‘‘We know we can play better across the board,’’ linebacker
Damien Proby said. ‘‘On defense, we know that we can play a lot better than what we showed out there, and we need to go out there and
execute this week.’’