Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ag Football Preview: Northwestern Football History

When it was announced that we were selected by the Mineke Car Care Bowl I was glad only because it is in Houston and it would be the easiest bowl game to ever navigate since I live in Houston.

After playing some big premier opponents in our last few bowl games (LSU, Georgia, Penn State, Cal, Tennessee) I was disappointed to find out that our opponent was Northwestern. I was really hoping that we would land a down Ohio State who finished tied with Northwestern in the Big 10 this season - but their traveling passionate fanbase got them snatched up by the Gator Bowl who matched them up against Florida (pitting newly hired tOSU HC, Urban Meyer's new and old teams against each other).

While the Wildcats are not the sexiest opponent, they are our opponent and I like to take the time to to learn about the history of our bowl opponents as the actual team prepares for them.

Quick hitters:
  • Only private school in the B1G
  • <8,000 students
  • Traditions include a wildcat "growl" over the PA System and hitting a 2x4 with "Trust" written on it
  • They wear purple
  • Ross from Friends and Elaine from Seinfeld both went to school there
  • Pretty much a horrible football history
The Wildcats were horrific until 1995 when they went 10-1 in the regular season under HC Gary Barnett, winning the Big 10 title and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl. It was their first winning season since 1971.

They followed up that season in '96 with a 9-3 campaign but fell off once Barnett left for Colorado.

Current Head coach Pat Fitzgerald was a consensus All-American linebacker for the Wildcats in both 1995 & 1996 - he also brought home both the Bednarik Award & Nagurski Trophy in both seasons. He took over as head coach in '06 and has brought the longest stretch of success the program has seen with bowl games in each of the last 4 seasons....remember they had only 6 bowl appearances from 1876-2006.

That's really it. I did some digging and that was all I could come up with. The moral of the story....go better than 6-6 and make a real bowl game against a legit football school.

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