Northwestern closing talent gap on Ohio State

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Quite possibly the status of Northwestern’s football program won’t be defined by the highlight-grabbing plays it makes Saturday against Ohio State but by the mundane approach it will take in game planning for the Buckeyes this week.

Kain Colter put it best.

“You dream about this when you’re young, playing big-time games like this,” Northwestern’s senior quarterback said. “But at the same time we don’t want to overhype it. We don’t need to play out of this world. I feel like we just need to play our game in each phase of the game to be able to win.”

That’s the difference between previous Northwestern teams and the one that’s being considered a contender for the Big Ten championship this season.

In previous seasons the Wildcats needed to rely on astute game planning and near perfect execution to beat the best teams in the conference, let alone in the entire country. And that’s been the hallmark of Northwestern’s rise to national relevance.

It hasn’t really changed. They’ll emphasize the fundamentals as much as any team in the country. But this season Northwestern might be able to afford some mistakes even when it plays Ohio State on Saturday.

Colter wasn’t insinuating the team could play an average game and beat the Buckeyes. But Northwestern can matchup with Ohio State. Simple implementation of the game plan is enough to win.

Fitzgerald played diplomat Monday. He said any team in the top-five—where Ohio State falls in each of the major polls—is more talented than the rest of the country.

That’s true.

But the disparity between the Wildcats and Buckeyes is less than it has ever been.

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