Northwestern Wildcats


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Northwestern Wildcats

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The Northwestern Wildcats compete in the Big Ten Conference, one of the toughest leagues in the country when it comes to college football. This football program has had some periods of great success throughout history, but that isn’t typical at Northwestern.

It has been more than 20 years since Northwestern won the Big Ten Conference, but they have had a pair of West Division titles since that time. The Big Ten is split up into two divisions, East and West, and the Wildcats have been a factor in the West.

The University of Illinois is Northwestern’s biggest Big Ten Conference rival, but the school has also enjoyed a rivalry with Notre Dame at points. Northwestern has struggled to put together great recruiting classes as there are pretty serious academic standards at the school.

The program was founded back in 1882, and Northwestern is closing in on 550 wins.

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The Northwestern Wildcats have been a surprise team in the NCAAF this season, as their stats and standings indicate. With a balanced and efficient offense and a tough defense, they have been able to compete with the best teams in the conference. The Wildcats have a strong coaching staff and a group of talented players, and they will be a tough test for anyone they face.

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Northwestern Wildcats Team History

The Northwestern Wildcats have had some terrific individual players in the program’s history, but putting together a roster that is competitive on a national level has been a challenge. There is a long list of consensus All-Americans that have starred at Northwestern, but that hasn’t led to a ton of team success.

Safety Brandon Joseph is the most recent All-American at Northwestern, earning the honor in 2020. Pat Fitzgerald was selected for the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008, and he is the last member of this program to receive this honor.

Recent History

There is a reason that Pat Fitzgerald is considered the greatest coach in the history of Northwestern football. There have been some lean years for Northwestern, but Fitzgerald has brought some life back into the Wildcats.

Since 2006, Fitzgerald has led the Wildcats to a record of 108-84 through his first 192 games as head coach. Fitzgerald has also taken Northwestern to 10 bowl games during that time, making this the best stretch in program history.

Northwestern was able to win the West Division in both 2018 and 2020, and they were considered longshots to do so before each season began. Fitzgerald is now tasked with trying to get Northwestern even better and contending for a national championship.

Key Players in History

While some college football programs produce players that turn into legends in the NFL, that just hasn’t been the case at Northwestern. 11 different former players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, but it would take a big football fan to know any of the names.

Linebacker Pat Fitzgerald was a celebrated player during his career at Northwestern, and that was a big reason that he was hired to lead the program. Outside of Fitzgerald, quarterback Otto Graham is also considered one of the best players in Northwestern football history.

You won’t find a long list of NFL legends that played college football at Northwestern, but this program has had several stars along the way.

Key Championships

The only national championship in the history of Northwestern football came all the way back in 1903, and that is an accomplishment that is celebrated within this program. Since Northwestern is never really considered a national title contender, the Big Ten Conference championships are also celebrated.

The most recent conference title for Northwestern came all the way back in 2000, ending a pretty solid run for the Wildcats. Northwestern was a force in the Big Ten in the 1990s, winning the conference three times.

Recently, Northwestern was able to win the West Division twice, and those were big-time accomplishments as well. Each time, the Wildcats have fallen to Ohio State in the conference title game, but getting to Indianapolis was still a great accomplishment.

Conference Outlook

The SEC is largely considered the best college football conference in the country, but the Big Ten isn’t too far behind. The Big Ten has now grown up to 14 teams, and this has created even more competition.

When the Big Ten did expand this most recent time, the league was split up into two different divisions. Northwestern is a member of the West Division, and that has been the weaker division since this realignment was made.

There are some legendary college football programs in the Big Ten, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State. Finding a way to compete with these schools consistently has been a challenge for the Wildcats and one that hasn’t always worked out favorably.

Coaching History

There have been 29 different coaches in the history of Northwestern football that have coached at least four games. Pat Fitzgerald is far and away from the most successful coach at Northwestern, both in terms of wins and tenure.

Fitzgerald has been the head coach at Northwestern since 2006, and he has over 105 wins at the school. No other coach has more than 49 wins.

Randy Walker was the head coach before Fitzgerald took over, and he led the team to three bowl games while at the helm. Nearly all of the coaches at Northwestern went without leading the team to a bowl game.


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Northwestern Wildcats FAQs

What conference do the Northwestern Wildcats compete in?

The Northwestern Wildcats compete in the West Division of the Big Ten Conference.

What is the name of the home football stadium at Northwestern?

The Northwestern Wildcats play their home games at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. The capacity there is 47,130.

Has Northwestern won any National Championships?

Northwestern has just one claimed the national title in program history, and that was all the way back in 1903. The Wildcats have eight conference titles in program history.

Who is the winningest coach in Northwestern football history?

Pat Fitzgerald, the current head coach at Northwestern, is the all-time winningest coach in the history of Northwestern football. Fitzgerald has led his teams to more than 100 wins.

Who is the most famous football player from Northwestern?

Quarterback Otto Graham is arguably the most famous football player in the history of Northwestern football.

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