2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 40
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 47

The Northwestern Wildcats surprised in 2009, winning 8 games under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Not known as a football school, Northwestern has done a good job staying competitive in a tough Big Ten conference. With four easy games to start the season and no games against Ohio State, the Wildcats have a chance to go bowling again.

Most of the offensive starters from last year will return, except for the most important one. Quarterback Mike Kafka led the Big Ten in total offense and passing yards last year. Out of the spread offense he threw for 3,430 yards and rushed for another 519.

Northwestern Wildcats College Football Cheerleader

Stepping in for him will be Senior Mike Persa who threw for 224 yards in 2009. Also gone are the starting receivers from last season. Drake Dunsmore and Jeremy Ebert are quality receivers who should be able to step in and produce. The entire starting offensive line returns, but they weren’t exactly amazing last year. Outside of Kafka, the next leading rusher had only 324 yards.

The Wildcats’ defense loses four of its best players in defensive end Corey Wooten, cornerback Sherrick McManis and both safeties. The front seven should remain strong with linebackers Quentin Davie and Nate Williams and end Vince Browne. This defense needs young players to step into key roles or teams will be able to slice them up through the air.

Losing so many quality players will definitely have an impact on Northwestern. As with most teams, new starters will have to perform in order for them to have a chance at another bowl game and continuing to build a new football tradition.

Northwestern’s odds to win the Big Ten: +2000

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