Halftime reaction: Cal 24, Northwestern 7

Bobby Pillote, Assistant Sports Editor

The ugly, the ugly and the ugly

ESPN babbled about unions and fake injuries during its pregame coverage, but Northwestern can’t use either of those as excuses for its poor play thus far.

The Wildcats simply looked lost in the first half, with just about everything that could going wrong for the team. The defense was shredded on the ground and in the air, with the only consolation being an athletic interception from senior safety Ibraheim Campbell.

Meanwhile, an offense that looked promising on its first drive repeatedly sputtered due to misfires and miscues. Four different running backs, including true freshmen Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault, received carries but none could get much going on the ground.

Junior wide receiver Cameron Dickerson restored some hope to the NU faithful midway through the second quarter with a 54-yard catch-and-run TD, perhaps answering the question of where big plays will come from for this offense.

But the defense responded to that by giving up a 76-yard touchdown bomb on Cal’s very next play from scrimmage. This secondary was supposed to be a strength for the Cats but has been a crippling weakness thus far.

Is the sky falling?

Yes it is. This is largely the same Golden Bears team that couldn’t beat a single FBS opponent last season.

Cal’s unexpected implementation of a two-quarterback system has made NU look silly, even though that is something the defense should be quite familiar with.

Meanwhile, the offense simply can’t string anything consistent together against what was one of college football’s worst defenses last year.

Perhaps the greatest sign of the apocalypse was that coach Pat Fitzgerald actually elected to go for it on a fourth down on the Cats opening drive (which, of course, they didn’t convert).

NU can still turn things around, but it needs to do so in a hurry. An opening day loss to what was supposed to be an easy opponent would be a huge blow to any bowl game aspirations.

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