Football: Northwestern seeks to bounce back in matchup against Southern Illinois


Angeli Mittal/Daily Senior Staffer

Northwestern players run onto the field for the start of their home opener. The Wildcats will look for redemption against Southern Illinois.

Skye Swann, Assistant Gameday Editor

Following a tough home opener loss to Duke, Northwestern seeks to recover and return to the winning column.

Despite trailing by 21 in the second quarter, the Wildcats fought their way back and closed in on the Blue Devils’ enormous lead. The offensive momentum was unstoppable, looking like a comeback for the ages. But NU’s luck ran dry in the fourth quarter after fumbling a 75 yard drive into the end zone with the clock winding down.

The Cats will have the chance to avenge their home opener loss on Saturday against Southern Illinois. When the teams last played over a decade ago, NU cruised past the Salukis for a 33-7 victory.

With NU coming off a loss at home, Saturday’s matchup will give the Cats a chance to redeem themselves. Here are a few things to look out for as NU takes on Southern Illinois this weekend.

Northwestern’s offensive runs

Although the Cats struggled in the first quarter against Duke, the squad’s offense proved dangerous once it clicked. 

Junior running back Evan Hull caught 14 passes for 213 yards and rushed 17 times for 65 yards plus a touchdown. Earning a career performance, Hull is one of NU’s most lethal threats on the offensive end. Junior quarterback Ryan Hilinski also secured a career high 435 passing yards with two touchdowns against the Blue Devils.

The Cats’ offensive turnaround against Duke showcased promise, indicating once the team gathered themselves that they could prevail. With the odds stacked against the group, Hull and Hilinski brushed the dirt off and persevered on the ground.

NU’s redemption faceoff is a second chance opportunity to close in on a victory. If the Cats can finish this game strong, it will send a message to the rest of the competition.

Southern Illinois enters the game with a chip on their shoulders

The Salukis’ loss to Northwestern in September 2008 won’t be the only thing fueling the team on Saturday.

Southern Illinois currently holds a two-game losing streak, dropping the season opener to Incarnate Word and its home opener to Southeast Missouri. The Salukis’ offensive struggles in both contests will be a big area of focus this weekend.

Alongside NU, Southern Illinois is seeking a comeback, and a win over the Cats will be a milestone for the program. The Salukis’ offensive improvements against the Redhawks led to a 34-31 loss, a tight game compared to their season opener.

Will this weekend be a battle of the offenses? Saturday’s matchup will be the only way to see the answer.

The Wildcats’ defense 

NU’s defensive end held their own against Duke last weekend despite exiting the game without a victory. The Cats’ comeback in the second quarter started courtesy of the defensive momentum that shut down the Blue Devils.

After a successful performance against Nebraska, NU’s defensive presence has made strides compared to last year’s season. Junior defensive back Garnett Hollis Jr. led the Cats defensively against Duke, earning five tackles and one interception.

Senior defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore contributed with seven tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack and one forced fumble.

Hollis Jr and Adebawore should be a dynamic duo for NU’s defense and will look to be central players this weekend.

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Twitter: @sswann301

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