The Northwestern Wildcats had an amazing run in 2012. The team started the season with five straight victories and ultimately finished with a record of 10-3. The season culminated with a victory in the Gator Bowl over Mississippi State. With several key starters returning and a favorable schedule, the Wildcats could be in the hunt for the Big Ten Legends Division title this year.
Last season, Northwestern was led by a stellar rushing attack which averaged 226 yards per game and ranked 19th in the nation.
Leading the way on the ground was running back Venric Mark, who will look to do the same in 2013. He rushed for 1,371 yards with 12 touchdowns and also excelled on special teams, leading the conference with 2,171 all-purpose yards. Mark returned two punts for touchdowns and was named an All-American punt returner.
Mike Trumpy, who added 349 rushing yards and three touchdowns, will also be in the mix to get carries this year.
Northwestern had a potent offense last season, averaging 31.7 points per game. The Wildcats were difficult to defend and prepare for, as head coach Pat Fitzgerald employed a two-quarterback system. Trevor Siemian, the more traditional passer, threw for 1,312 yards with six touchdowns. Kain Colter, the dual-threat quarterback, threw for 872 yards with eight touchdowns while also adding 894 yards on the ground with 12 touchdowns.
Both players will return for this season, giving the Wildcats another chance at a productive offense. The top three wide receivers from a year ago, Tony Jones, Christian Jones and Rashad Lawrence also return.
With all of this talent coming back for 2013, there’s no doubt that the Wildcats will once again put up points and be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten. Though they struggled at times on defense last year, there will be experienced players coming back.
Looking at the schedule, it sets up well for Northwestern to challenge for the division title. Tough division opponents Michigan and Michigan State both have to visit Evanston this season. The Wildcats lost by just seven in overtime at Michigan last season, and they were victorious in East Lansing over the Spartans.
Ohio State, arguably the best team in the conference, is also a home game for the Wildcats. Northwestern will have to travel to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but they lost by just one point to them last season.
With a talented offense, confidence from last year’s success and a home schedule that includes top opponents, Northwestern has a great chance to make a run towards the top of the Big Ten Legends Division in 2013.