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Northwestern: Contender or Pretender?

Jerry Lal-US PRESSWIRE

At any point during the off-season, did anyone envision Northwestern being 5-0 to start the season? The Wildcats have cracked the Top 25 this week and are pushing to move up in the rankings with their ability to score and stop the run.

One of the reasons for Northwestern’s success has been do-it-all quarterback/running back/receiver Kain Colter. He’s recently been named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week along with Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Coming in to the season as the starting quarterback, Kolter has seen his duties change as Trevor Siemian has been taking most of the reps while Kolter has been taking the field as a wide receiver and runner. He’s boosted the passing game and helped Venric Mark in the backfield.

Pat Fitzgerald’s crew passed their non-conference games with flying colors and got things off on the right note against Big Ten foe Indiana. They’ve scored more than 20 points in every game this season and cracked the more than 40 mark twice. The real test is ahead when they travel to Penn State this week. That should provide us with a good idea of this team and where they stand as among the best in the conference.

They ranked ninth overall in the country in rushing (255.8 ypg) and add a different dimension with Kolter running the wildcat. They will be challenged significantly in the next few weeks. The big question is: can they handle the rest of their schedule? They get Nebraska at home and travel to Michigan and Michigan State. These are all winnable games for a team that looks like they are playing with extreme confidence.

Fitzgerald is building something very special just north of the windy city.

Will Wilson is a writer for Rant Sports covering College Football and the Big Ten Conference.

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