Northwestern Wildcats 2023 College Football Preview
July 23, 2023
Record – 1-11
ATS – 5-7
The 2022 season put the “S” in STANK as the Wildcats managed to win just a single game all year. CORN fans have to be wondering what in the SAM HILL happened as they fell to Northwestern in the season opener in Ireland. The Cats proceeded to lose their next 11 (!) games in a row and look mostly-bad doing it.
Former HC Pat Fitzgerald and others were fired from the program recently following a hazing scandal, and that was the right move, even tho in the “old days” freshmen used to be buried alive in coffins for days at a time because “it was hilarious”. Times have changed, yo **.
** also in the old days, when players were “tough”, they often threw freshmen off 25-story buildings because, “it was hilarious”.
Northwestern Wildcats 2023 Outlook
We’re pretty sure that wasn’t “offense” on display last season as the Wildcats managed a mere 14 PPG (#128 FBS), and that was despite having one of the best dual-threat RBs in the Big Ten in Evan Hull (913 rush, 546 receiving). Hull is off to the NFL and the Cats also lose their top-two WRs from last season’s squad. Cincinnati transfer QB Ben Bryant (37-17 career TD to INT) was a good scoop via the transfer portal but they don’t have much proven talent at RB, WR, or TE. At least the WR group has some hope as they added a few interesting bodies over the offseason. The OL could be a major problem area as they lose an All-Universe LT (#1 NFL DC) and return fewer than 30 career starts up front. As our pal CLUBBER LANG would say, the prognosis for those watching the offense this season is “PAIN”.
Things look quite a bit better on this side of the football as they bring back eight starters and new HC David Braun did some great work as DC with North Dakota St before coming to Northwestern. Our favorite part of the defense is the 1-2 punch at LB in Bryce Gallagher and Xander Mueller who combined for 187 (!) tackles and 15.5 TFL in 2022. The DL and DB groups seem “average” to us but we concede that there’s probably more upside than downside in terms of performance. Our primary concern with the stop unit is the ability to achieve adequate PENETRATION as they only booked 18 sacks LY (last Big Ten) and they’ve tallied less than 20 in each of the last three campaigns (nine games during 2020 PLANDEMIC season).
RUH ROH. The intrepid PHIL STEELE ranked these guys at #128 on special teams LY (#124 in 2021) and we don’t see much reason for optimism this season.
Overall – Yes, guy. Some GOOD news. They miss Michigan and Ohio St from the East and get to face Penn St at home. The non-conference schedule is manageable as well (UTEP, Howard, at Duke). Note that they only have two (!) true home games after October 7th.
Potential ATS Trouble Spot – UTEP (Sept 9)
We’re not high on MINER NATION this season but this game pops up in a sandwich spot between their Big Ten opener (at Rutgers) and a rivalry game at Duke. Northwestern has covered the spread in just one of their last seven home openers.
Season Win Total
Market consensus July 23
Over 3 -115
Under 3 -115
Yes, they’re gonna beat Howard. After that? Hmm. We suppose they’ve got a shot to cobble together a few more wins but we’re not gonna bet on it.
Lost in the unfortunate drama of the hazing DEBACLE ** is the fact that Northwestern has been brutal in three of the last four seasons (1-11, 3-9, 3-9).
Evanston, Illinois is just a 40-45 minute drive from downtown Chicago which features a blood-curdling risk for tourists and shoppers alike. Come visit MOGADISHU ON MADISON AVENUE!
** It’s 2023. Not like the good old days where seniors could just glue freshmen to anchors and toss them off a pier because “it was hilarious”.
There’s no other way to say it. This looks like a long year ahead for the Wildcats. It’s not a complete lost cause, however, as they’ve got a solid veteran QB and a defense that just might pack more punch than we think. We’ll call for three wins and better things to come for Northwestern in 2024.