It has always been said you can learn a lot from losing, but this Northwestern Wildcats team can take the next step because of their winning. With their 30-28 victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Northwestern becomes bowl eligible for the first time since their 2013 Gator Bowl win.
A team comprised of such a young core could gain a lot of experience from postseason play. Players such as Anthony Walker and Justin Jackson, both sophomores, who are asked to be major contributors will take major strides in their development with playing in the post season.
Throughout the Wildcats’ five game winning streak players were crediting their work during the week for their success on Saturday. Not only did their work pay off on game day, but it got them into the bowl season. It was important the young players saw the work on the practice field result to wins so as they move on in their careers they can continue those practices and teach the new players what is need to win.
As the state of Northwestern football changes from a youth project into Big Ten contenders it is important the work during the practice week results in wins. For a coaching staff to develop young talent one of the best ways you can get players to listen to by winning. For Walker, Jackson and other players like Godwin Igwebuike and Clayton Thorson who are asked to step into big roles early in their careers, it is important the team wins and gains the knowledge of how to win.
Taking all they have learned from their five game winning streak the Wildcats now have to apply it their bowl game preparation. Practicing and game planning for this game will be unlike any other the young Northwestern players have done before. The biggest difference about this game, there isn’t one the following week. The coaches will be stressing there is no second chance to redeem themselves of a bad performance. The emotions and adrenaline is going to be high for Northwestern, but they do have experience with that already.
Their shut out defeat against Michigan showed the Wildcats what it was like to play in a truly hostile environment. While Northwestern did not handle themselves well enough to win, they vantage from that experience by learning how to control emotions and execute their game plan.
If Northwestern continues to win throughout the remainder of their schedule it will only increase the status of their bowl game. There I no doubt head coach Pat Fitzgerald will be telling his players he wants to plays as close to New Years Day as possible.