Who is Chicago’s true college football team of choice?
It may very well never wind up being Northwestern but the plucky Wildcats are defending their home turf well against No. 4 Notre Dame, taking a 7-all tie into the locker room after a half of play on Saturday night.
The Irish can certainly blame missed opportunities for the scoreboard reading like it does, fumbling on their opening possession and then missing a field goal later on in the first quarter. The lone scoring drive was an impressive effort — 14 plays, 79 yards — but that was just about all there was as both sides were playing a bit of a throwback game.
Quarterback Ian Book was just 7-of-14 for 107 yards in the half as the offense was lackluster in converting just 1-of-5 chances on third down. Dexter Williams was responsible for the lone touchdown but, in limited carries, it appeared that Jafar Armstrong was a tad more effective running the ball with 13 yards.
As a result of all… that, whatever it might have been, perhaps the most notable thing that actually happened in the game came before the two sides even took the field in an interesting bit of gamesmanship between the two head coaches:
The Wildcats were able to move the ball as the game went on and surprisingly did so running the ball in the first half. Isaiah Bowser led the way in that department with a robust 51 yards on 14 carries to pick up the slack from QB Clayton Thorson, who threw for just 53 yards.
Needless to say, adjustments at halftime will be key and that’s an area where Notre Dame has excelled this season so far while it’s been a bit of an Achilles heel in non-Big Ten play for Northwestern. There’s plenty of local, regional and national interest in the outcome of this one with the Irish eyeing a bid for the College Football Playoff but both sides need to pick it up if they want a win after a rough first few quarters.