Marut: Chin up, son — the Cats are here to play

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Mike Marut, Reporter

The time has come to get over Saturday’s loss to Ohio State.  In fact, that time came at about 11 p.m. Sunday night.

Back when I played football in high school, my coach, Pat New — a Northwestern football receiver and defensive back from 1987-90 — led my team similarly to how coach Pat Fitzgerald leads our Wildcats these days. I’m talking about “the 24-hour rule.”

Under the 24-hour rule, you can only celebrate a win or grieve a loss for 24 hours. Then you move on and look ahead to the next challenge. That doesn’t mean lose the emotion from the game. It means don’t worry about the result or the feeling about the result of the game. In our case, forget the result of the Ohio State game. The next challenge is Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has a star running back in Melvin Gordon, who averages 10.3 yards per carry and nearly 140 yards per game.  These statistics include the Badgers’ matchup with Ohio State.  The Buckeyes held Gordon to only 74 yards on the day, in 15 carries – causing him to average half of what he normally gains per carry.

Ohio State won that game by only a single touchdown: 31-24.

Last I checked, we just played a nationally ranked top-five team. We just played a team that could play with Alabama or Oregon or any of the best teams in the country and hold its own.  And we held our own against that team. We led 20-13 heading into halftime. We led 23-20 going into the fourth quarter. Although the scoreboard says we lost by 10, I firmly believe we only lost by 4. Four measly points.

According to NU alumnus and broadcaster of Saturday’s game Brent Musburger, we had to win the turnover battle to have a good shot at winning the game. We won that battle. We had a damn good shot at winning the game. Our defense forced and recovered two fumbles and picked off Braxton Miller once, whereas the Buckeye defenders only had one interception in the entire game until the last moments, when they forced a fumble.

Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave has thrown four interceptions in the five games so far this season: one in each match except the surprising 32-30 loss to Arizona State. Wisconsin’s opponents have forced three fumbles so far but only recovered one. We’ve forced eight fumbles and recovered three of them. If our secondary can put on another turnover-creating clinic, then we’re in good shape.

I have a message for the whole Big Ten, fans and teams alike.  The Cats are here to play.  We’re not a team you can just push around and assume a win against when looking at the schedule in the preseason.  Under Fitz we are 54-40 overall.  Since the 2008 season through this Saturday, our conference record is 21-20, and momentum is on our side.  Be wary Big Ten, the Cats of the Windy City are coming for you.

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Twitter: @mikeonthemic93