Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.


Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site
Wesley Avenue residents call for action amid recent move-out
The 23rd annual Chicago Pride Fest features JoJo Siwa, Sapphira Cristál and Bob the Drag Queen
Queering The Map shows queer love on campus
‘You know absolutely nothing’: Students frustrated with NU’s handling of academic integrity cases
NU’s Summer Class Schedule offers flexibility, opportunities for academic advancement
Community awards, advocacy headline Evanston’s fifth annual Juneteenth parade
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

Northwestern hosts groundbreaking ceremony at Ryan Field construction site

Derrick Gragg appointed as Northwestern’s vice president for athletic strategy, search for new athletic director begins

June 13, 2024

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

June 13, 2024


The secret (and short) lives of cicadas on campus

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Football: What to Watch For: Northwestern looks to return to .500 against Howard on Homecoming Weekend

Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
Graduate student quarterback Ben Bryant throws a pass against Minnesota. Bryant’s status for Saturday’s game against Howard remains unclear.

In 30 minutes of football last Saturday, Northwestern put No. 6 Penn State on upset watch, with the two teams knotted up 10-10 at the intermission.

However, the Nittany Lions promptly quelled any notion of a Wildcat triumph, hanging 31 points on interim head coach David Braun’s squad in the third and fourth quarters.

With “plenty of positives to pull from,” according to Braun, NU turns its focus to Howard this Saturday. As droves of University alumni pour into the stands and parking lots for Homecoming Weekend, the ‘Cats will cap off a three-game homestand against the Bison before their bye week.

Here are three storylines to note before NU’s clash with Howard this weekend:

1. NU looks for four full quarters of football

Braun has preached about playing “complimentary football” for a full game, most recently in his Monday press conference.

“The challenge moving forward is what this team can truly be capable of when it finds a way to play a full four quarters,” Braun said.

It’s become one of Braun’s most-used maxims as the ‘Cats enter Week 6, still searching for a complete 60 minutes of football. NU’s lead man expressed optimism that the team will get itself there soon, though.

The ‘Cats got off to a blistering start against Penn State, forcing a turnover on the game’s opening play. But after staying level with the Nittany Lions for two quarters, a third quarter surge from coach James Franklin’s squad all but put the game to bed.

“We prepared to win a football game, prepared to play a full four quarters, or however long it takes,” Braun said. “I think that gives us an opportunity as a team to continue to take full ownership in our performance and continue to fake full ownership of the things that we need to continue to improve upon moving forward.”

2. Bryant’s health will be under center Saturday

Gritty. Tough. Warrior.

Those were the words Braun used to describe graduate student quarterback Ben Bryant, who suffered an upper-body injury in the second half against Penn State. Braun provided little clarity on Monday regarding Bryant’s status for Saturday’s contest.

“(Bryant) is going to do everything in his power to get back to full health and be ready to play,” Braun said. “Not sure what that looks like in terms of timeline by Saturday.”

If Bryant were not to suit up for NU, all eyes will turn to junior quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who has seen action in three games this season. With Bryant sidelined at the end of regulation last weekend, Sullivan attempted six passes, completing two for eight yards and throwing an interception. Despite the struggles through the air, the Davison, Michigan, native recorded a season-high 25 rushing yards.

Braun said the team anticipates Bryant will be available in a few days’ time, but if he’s not, Sullivan will be the starter under center.

“If Ben weren’t able to go, as of right now, (we) would anticipate Brendan going,” Braun said. “Brendan’s earned that opportunity. He’s played well in his opportunities to come in and spell Ben.”

3. Getting the ground game going

Sullivan, who ran the ball a mere seven times against Penn State, was NU’s leading rusher last weekend. The ‘Cats managed just 45 yards on the ground on 32 carries, good for only 1.4 yards per rushing attempt. In NU’s comeback Week 4 win over Minnesota, the numbers were slightly better: 29 carries for 92 yards.

The ‘Cats are the only team in the Big Ten averaging fewer than 100 rushing yards per game. NU has only eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice this season — against UTEP and Duke in mid-September.

Braun said the team’s ability to play complimentary football with a lead will open the team’s rushing attack, namely senior running back Cam Porter, to more opportunities.

“Our running back room is going to be at their best, our O-line is going to be at their best when we can find ways to be up two scores in the third quarter,” Braun said. “Control the clock, run the football, and all of a sudden (offensive coordinator Mike) Bajakian has the entire call sheet available to him.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @CervantesPAlex

Related Stories:
Football: Captain and student of the game: Cam Porter embraces three-down role
Football: Northwestern’s special teamers jolt first half effort against No. 6 Penn State
Football: Northwestern still searching for four full quarters of football, falls victim to second-half surge from No. 6 Penn State

More to Discover