There was just a simple television and radio and it was the last time the Northwestern Wildcats football program won a bowl game. 63 years later, the Wildcats not only have one of their best teams in recent memory but can finally put an end to a lengthy championship drought.
Northwestern hasn’t been associated with winning in sports but over the past three decades, the football program has made strides to become one of better teams in the Big Ten. Although the record won’t indicate it, the Wildcats haven’t had a losing season since 2006, head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s first season leading the team.
Since 2008 however, the Wildcats have appeared in four consecutive bowl games but haven’t won a single contest. The winless bowl streak could’ve been broken a few times but poor special teams and defense has led Northwestern in search of its first bow victory since 1949.
This season, the Wildcats will boast one of their better teams since possibly the 1995 Big Ten Championship team that lost in the Rose Bowl to USC. Northwestern has the players on offense, defense and special teams to make for an exciting season in Evanston, Ill.
Northwestern will be led this year by quarterback Kain Colter who will enjoy having one of the deeper wide receiver corps in the country. On defense, the Wildcats could possibly surprise a lot of teams as they will return defensive end Tyler Scott and linebacker David Nwabusi.
The Wildcats will begin the season with a favorable schedule as they face Syracuse on Sept. 1 before their home-opener against Vanderbilt. Northwestern will also take advantage of not playing either Wisconsin or Ohio State this season.
With the Legends division in the Big Ten being wide open, the Wildcats could find themselves playing in the conference championship game on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis. However, Northwestern will have to get past Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska.
After opening their conference slate with Indiana at home, the Wildcats will endure a stretch of five games in six weeks in which they play teams who had winning records in 2011 (Penn State, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State).
The Wildcats will have a lot of expectations this season but the players have already expressed that anything less than a conference championship is unacceptable. For Northwestern, another defeat in a bowl game could be heartbreaking.
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