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Odds and Schedule
If you follow college football, it should be a known fact that Northwestern just won their first bowl game since 1949. Not only that, but they have now been to five straight bowls and won 10 games for just the third time in school history last year. To say that expectations are high for a Wildcats team that returns 15 starters is an understatement. Northwestern believes they have what it takes to make it all the way to the Rose Bowl this year.
Do the oddsmakers concur? Not really. Northwestern is a 180 to 1 shot to win the BCS title this year and they are a 7 to 1 shot to win the Big 10, behind Ohio State, Michigan and Nebraska. Those odds are courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Returning on the offensive end will be all of their skill players. That includes both quarterbacks from a dual QB system. Kain Colter rushed for 12 touchdowns while Trevor Siemian passed for 1,300 yards. Also in the backfield is running back Venric Mark who totaled 1,366 yards and 12 TDs last year. They have a lot of depth at wide receiver, but no one that stands out from the pack. The one problem for the Wildcats is on the offensive line where they're losing three starters. Not only that, but they are dealing with a ton of injuries. Two tackles and a guard missed most of spring practices due to injuries. And instead of having a spring game, Pat Fitzgerald was forced to change it to an open practice because of too many injuries across the team.
That includes on the defensive end where they have a couple starters ailing. Northwestern's pass defense was last in the conference last year and will be a major focus point coming into this season. They'll be losing a few guys out of the secondary which means younger players that were recruited for speed will be scouring the passing lanes. The Wildcats did have 29 takeaways and 28 sacks last year which is a good sign for an improving squad.
2013 Northwestern Football Schedule
Aug. 31 at California
Sept. 7 vs. Syracuse
Sept. 14 vs. Western Michigan
Sept. 21 vs. Maine
Oct. 5 vs. Ohio State
Oct. 12 at Wisconsin
Oct. 19 vs. Minnesota
Oct. 26 at Iowa
Nov. 2 at Nebraska
Nov. 16 vs. Michigan
Nov. 23 vs. Michigan State
Nov. 30 at Illinois
The problem for Northwestern this year is that their schedule will be a lot tougher. They open the season on the west coast at California. Even though the Golden Bears struggled last year, it's going to be tough travelling that far in the first game. Fortunately for Northwestern, they get Syracuse at home this year, a team that's losing plenty of players and coaches.
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The even bigger problem for the Wildcats is that they have to play Ohio State and Wisconsin this year, something they didn't do last season. Those two will be their first games in Big Ten play so they could easily start 0-2 in conference play.
From there, they get two road games at Iowa and Nebraska which will not be easy at all. Nebraska does not lose many games at home and have an offense that can match anything Northwestern has. The Wildcats will get both Michigan-based schools at home, but neither of those is a free win as both will be fighting for the Legends lead at that point.
Getting to 10 wins would be a major accomplishment for Northwestern this year, more so than last. In all likelihood, they'll lose a couple more games than last year and finish with around eight wins.
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