The theme of Big Ten Media Day for the Northwestern Wildcats was the newfound expectations for the 2013 season. The Wildcats have 15 returning starters including quarterback Kain Colter and running back Venrick Mark. Mark was third in the Big Ten in rushing with 1366 yards. The Wildcats also return Big Ten sacks Tyler Scott who had 9 sacks.
The Wildcats also bring in the 47th best recruiting class in the nation. When talking about expectations, coach Pat Fitzgerald says, “We want to put that trophy in our case.” Fitzgerald, 50-37 in 7 season at Northwestern, has led the Wildcats to a school record 5 straight bowl game appearances, and the program’s first bowl win in a record 64 years in last season’s Gator Bowl.
The expectations come off of one of the greatest seasons in Northwestern history. The third 10-win season in program history returns all key contributors and brings new hype to the program. The 2012 season saw the Wildcats have late leads in all three of their losses. They were also the first Big Ten team in the BCS era to beat two SEC teams in the same season after beating Vanderbilt and Mississippi State in the 2013 Gator Bowl. The Wildcats also were the highest ranked team in the final coaches poll at 16th. The Wildcats are building on that momentum with a very impressive recruiting class for 2014.
The highest expectations come from head coach Pat Fitzgerald. “We’re not satisfied with just going to bowl games. That’s not acceptable. That’s the expectation,” coach Fitzgerald said when talking about his expectations for the program. Fitzgerald and his team expect to compete for a Big Ten title. They offseason motto was 5:03 because they trailed for a combined five minutes and three seconds in the fourth quarter, of their three losses. The Wildcats believe that they cannot only win a Big Ten title, but possibly a National Championship.