The 2013 Northwestern Wildcats have the potential to win their first Big 10 title since
The Wildcats are coming off of only their third 10 win season in school history, and they are return almost all key contributors. The Wildcats are looking to build on their first bowl win in 64 years after defeating Mississippi State in the 2013 Gator Bowl.
Heading into the 2013 season, Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald maintains that just being bowl eligible is not enough. He believes that the Wildcats cannot only win a Big 10 title, but eventually even contend for a national title. “We wanna be consistent champions,” he said. The Wildcats open their season on Saturday night at Cal. The game can be seen on ESPN2 at 9:30pm central time. The Wildcats then square off with Syracuse in their home opener on Saturday, September 8.
The Wildcats will open up Big Ten play at home against Ohio State on October 5. The homecoming football game has the potential to be one of the biggest games in program history. The primetime game which has possibility of being the ABC game of the week. This also means that ESPN’s College Gameday could be coming to Evanston. If Northwestern and Ohio State both enter the game undefeated, it could be a matchup of top 10 teams.
The Wildcats open the 2013 season ranked 22nd in both the AP and Coaches Polls. They are one of five Big 10 teams in the preseason top 25. The Wildcats finished last season ranked 17th in the AP Poll and 16th in the Coaches Poll. This is the first time in Fitzgerald’s coaching career that the Wildcats have been in the preseason top 25.
The Wildcats are returning starting quarterback Kain Colter, running back Venric Mark, and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Mark was a firstteam AllAmerican punt returner as he led the nation with an average of 20.1 yards per return. Mark also was Northwestern’s first firstteam All American since offensive tackle Zach Strief in 2005. Mark looks to build off of his AllAmerican junior season in 2013. The Wildcats also return senior quarterback Kain Colter who threw for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns last season. Junior quarterback Trevor Siemian will also play a lot. Colter and Siemian will split playing time at quarterback, as Colter will line up as a wide receiver when the strong armed Siemian enters the game.
Though they have a tougher schedule, the Wildcats look improve upon their 10 win 2012 campaign. The Wildcats had 4th quarter leads in all 3 of their losses. Their motto is “5:03” because according to coach Fitzgerald, “We were 5 minutes and 3 seconds away from being undefeated…That’s an incredible motivator.” The Wildcats know how close they were to doing something very special. This year, they bolster a very similar, yet more experienced squad. Led by Heisman contender Kain Colter, I predict that the Wildcats will go 112 in the regular season, with both of their losses coming to Ohio State. They will win the legends division but fall to the eventual national champion Buckeyes for a second time. I predict they will face Stanford in the Rose Bowl, but not be able to win their second consecutive bowl game.
They key for the 2013 Wildcats is to have a strong start to the season. In 2012, they won all four of their nonconference games, and they will need to duplicate that feat for 2013 to be as special as 2012 was. Opening at Cal and then at home against Syracuse, Western Michigan, and Maine. The Wildcats will not take these games lightly because they know how crucial they are to their season.
The 2013 season has the potential to be the best in Northwestern history, or the biggest let down in Northwestern history. For the first time in a long time, pundits have high expectations for the Wildcats. The 2013 look to take the next step and become a national power. Pat Fitzgerald’s team knows that they can have an impact greater than any other on the program. Northwestern has a very strong 2014 recruiting class that can only get stronger if the Wildcats can duplicate their 2012 success.