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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 28 Digital 6

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Page 73 of 91

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 6 74 THREE THINGS 1 Who will be the Wildcats' quar- terback to start the season? Fourth-year starter Clayton Thorson is coming off of a torn ACL suf- fered in the Music City Bowl last De- cember. Thorson, who has started 39 straight games, will play at some point, but no one is really sure if he'll be ready for the first few games. If he can't go, Northwestern will be forced to go with one of three backups, walk-on TJ Green, Aidan Smith or Andrew Marty, who have combined to throw one pass on the collegiate level. 2 Northwestern has had horrendous starts the last two seasons. In 2016, the Wildcats lost back-to-back games to Western Michigan and (gulp) Illinois State at home to start the year, and last year their 2-3 start included an ugly drubbing at Duke. The 2018 season begins with a tough Thursday night road game at Purdue. If they want to contend in the Big Ten West, the Wildcats have to get out of the gates better this season. 3 The offensive line returns four starters from last season, when its erratic play was the main culprit in the team's slow start. But the unit improved significantly as the year went on. This season, they will be under the microscope, particular- ly early if Thorson isn't ready to play and the Wildcats have to resort to the running game and defense to win games with an inexperi- enced QB. — Louie Vaccher, publisher at TIME: 8 P.M. | DATE: AUG. 30 | LOCATION: WEST LAFAYETTE | TV: ESPN COACH: PAT FITZGERALD (87-64, 13TH SEASON) 2017 RECORD: 10-3 STARTERS RETURNING (OFFENSE/ DEFENSE): 7/6^ SERIES VS. PURDUE: 31-50-1 LAST MEETING: NORTHWESTERN, 23-13 ON NOV. 11, 2017 AT RYAN FIELD ^ ATHLON GBI EARLY LINE: PURDUE -4 Game 1 | Northwestern Northwestern's 2018 Schedule 8/30 at Purdue 9/8 DUKE 9/15 AKRON 9/29 MICHIGAN 10/6 at Michigan State 10/13 NEBRASKA 10/20 at Rutgers 10/27 WISCONSIN 11/3 NOTRE DAME 11/10 at Iowa 11/17 at Minnesota 11/24 ILLINOIS Tom Campbell Clayton Thorson

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