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Pat Fitzgerald in his prime.
Zach Clark (8:41 am) Follow Zach on Twitter @Zach_TSB

Team: 

Northwestern Wildcats

Head Coach:

Pat Fitzgerald (7th year at Northwestern)
2011 Record: 6-7 (3-5 Conference)
Overall Head Coaching Record: 40-36

Schedule Preview:

The Wildcats open up 2012 with two middle-of-the-road opponents: at Syracuse and vs. Vanderbilt.  Northwestern has won their first two games of the season for 5 straight years, and I expect them to continue the tradition.  In fact, I anticipate Coach Fitzgerald and his Wildcats to win their next five games (vs. Boston College, vs. South Dakota, vs. Indiana, at Penn St, at Minnesota).  Not one of these opponents has particularly strong squads, and like most college football fans, I have great respect and admiration for Coach Fitzgerald and his coaching abilities.  I have heard nothing but rave reviews about him, and as tough a task as it is coaching at NU, never underestimate Coach Fitz, especially with 6 years under his belt.  And after searching for a clever Northwestern football YouTube video to insert into this article, I found a video that makes it nearly impossible to say anything bad about the man currently in charge of the ‘Cats.  Check out a poor man’s James Earl Jones narrate the 1980’s-looking gem here: 

After my bold prediction of the Wildcats starting the season 7-0 comes to fruition and the entire nation is abuzz over the men in purple and black, naturally, I assume they will fall apart.  They finish up the season vs. Nebraska, vs. Iowa, at Michigan, at Michigan St and vs. Illinois.  If they are lucky, they win 2 games.  However, I see their only victory in these last five games vs. the Illini.  According to my sure-fire calculations*, the Wildcats will finish the season with an 8-4 record, their best regular season record since 2008. 

*Calculations and predictions are entirely dependent on Coach Pat Fitzgerald suiting up and starting at LB for the entire season.

Incoming Players:

According to Rivals.com, the Northwestern Wildcats’ 2012 recruiting class is ranked 60th in the nation and 9th in the B10.  However, as many know, the ‘Cats stole a STUD young man from Ohio from right under the Buckeyes’ noses.  Ifeadi Odenigbo, a 6’4” 210 pound DE/OLB from Centerville, OH, chose the Wildcats over the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and USC.  I have heard and read from multiple sources that Odenigbo is a class kid and all one can ask for in a top recruit.  Look for this easily-spelled name to wreak havoc in the B10 immediately, and I predict, eventually on Sundays…

Vital Departures:

Northwestern returns 5 starters on offense and 5 starters on defense in 2012.  Although we all remember electric playmaker QB Dan Persa from 2011, Kain Colter (another ridiculous athlete) becomes the full-time starter this fall.  He will be throwing to returning starter and senior WR Demetrius Fields.  Fields looks to replace the production of WR Jeremy Ebert, the 2-time All-B10 star.  On the defensive side of the ball, the ‘Cats return all three linebackers, but lose three lineman, both corners, and one safety.  Here is where I see Coach Fitz’s carefully chosen crop of 2012 recruits stepping up to contribute.  The biggest loss on defense by far was S Brian Peters, a playmaker who led the B10 in interceptions in 2011.

Zach’s Weak Effort at an Interesting Tidbit on Northwestern:

Here is video of a Q&A with Ifeadi Odenigbo where he comments on Ohio State and Braxton Miller.  Seems like a great kid and I wish him the best of luck with his choice and career.
Predictions: 

Overall Record: 8-4
Conference Record: 4-4
Offensive Team MVP: QB Kain Colter
Defensive Team MVP: LB David Nwabuisi
 


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