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DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT THE WILDCATS ARE GAINING STEAM
Posted By Ben Chiswick On Sep 27 2010 @ 12:36 pm In Northwestern | 1 Comment
Pat Fitzgerald is the man.
On Saturday, the Northwestern Wildcats finished the non-conference portion of their schedule at 4-0 after beating a good Central Michigan team, 30-25, at Ryan Field.
Listening to the coaches and players after the game, you would have thought they had just escaped some kind of upset threat from Northwest Central Mississippi A&M.
True, Saturday’s win was a sloppy one. The Wildcats committed 11 penalties for 106 yards, missed a field goal and an extra point, and gave up 423 yards of total offense. Arby Fields was irrelevant once again, rushing for 16 yards on seven carries and fumbling during a brief cameo appearance in the second half. After taking a 30-13 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter, Northwestern gave up two late touchdowns before recovering an onside kick to stave off a late Chippewas’ rally.
Those were the negatives. That is what Fitzgerald – and his players – were dwelling on after the game. They have their eyes on the prize. A 4-0 start is great, but they will have to play better to make a serious push once Big Ten play begins. You have to love the attitude and focus.
I, on the other hand, do not work out of Ryan Field. That means I can admit that the Wildcats are looking good right now – and the future is bright.
Consider the following:
Northwestern beat a good team on Saturday. Central Michigan has gone to four straight bowl games, won the MAC in three of the last four seasons, and has a history of launching their coaches to big time careers.
After beating the Chippewas, the Wildcats find themselves knocking on the door of the Top 25 polls as they head into their first Big Ten match-up in Minnesota next weekend. Northwestern received 21 votes in the Coaches Poll and four votes in the AP Poll this week.
And the future is even brighter.
With eight conference games remaining on the schedule, Northwestern will not have to play Michigan or Ohio State this year. Three of their next four games are against Minnesota, Purdue and Indiana. While the schedule gets tougher down the stretch – three of their last four games are against ranked teams in Penn State, Iowa and Wisconsin – things are shaping up very well for a Northwestern team that will continue to get better.
The Big Ten should take notice.
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