Coming off a surprising appearance in the Big Ten title game, Northwestern and coach Pat Fitzgerald replace a four-year starting quarterback with a former five-star recruit this season.
Northwestern defense stuns No. 20 Utah 31-20 in Holiday Bowl
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A cold, hard rain in normally warm, dry San Diego made the Northwestern Wildcats feel right at home, especially as they enjoyed a downpour of Utah turnovers in the Holiday Bowl.
In a dizzying nine-minute stretch of the third quarter, the Wildcats turned three turnovers into 21 points to stun the No. 20 Utes 31-20 Monday night.
The highlight was Jared McGee's 82-yard fumble return for a touchdown, the middle turnover in the nightmarish stretch for Utah.
Haskins, Bush receive top honors on AP All-Big Ten team
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. is the offensive player of the year and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush is defensive player of the year on The Associated Press All-Big Ten Conference team released Wednesday.
Freshman receiver Rondale Moore of Purdue was voted newcomer of the year, and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald was named coach of the year after leading the Wildcats to the Big Ten championship game for the first time.
Fitzgerald, Northwestern eye Big Ten title upset, Rose Bowl
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Safety Jared McGee recalled how little he knew about Northwestern early in the recruiting process and the impression coach Pat Fitzgerald made during a campus visit.
It's safe to say the coach played a major role in luring McGee to Evanston.
Big Ten: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald voted coach of year
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is the unanimous choice for Big Ten coach of the year.
The conference on Tuesday announced half its postseason awards based on voting by coaches and media. Fitzgerald led the Wildcats (8-4) to the West Division title after going winless in nonconference play and losing several starters to injuries.
For Northwestern, Big Ten title game presents big chance
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — The last time the stakes were this high for Northwestern, coach Pat Fitzgerald was a star linebacker on a team that captured the nation's imagination. A Rose Bowl run snapped a string of 23 losing seasons and made the Wildcats a feel-good story in 1995.
More than two decades later, No. 21 Northwestern is one win away from a return trip.
Thorson helps No. 20 Northwestern beats Illinois 24-16
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — With nothing really to play for, and with the Big Ten championship game looming next weekend, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald decided to pull many of his starters in the second half Saturday against rival Illinois.
Fitzgerald stuck with the plan in spite of unexpected tense moments down the stretch.
Northwestern looks to maintain edge over rival Illinois
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — No. 20 Northwestern wants to keep the Land of Lincoln Trophy, so it's taking nothing for granted heading into its annual showdown with Illinois.
Northwestern has won the last three meetings by a combined score of 108-42, and the Big Ten programs appear to be on decidedly different levels this season. But that trend doesn't mean very much to Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald at the moment.
Northwestern stays in stride with 24-14 win at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When he was an assistant at Northern Illinois, Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck once cold-called Pat Fitzgerald for a lunch meeting to learn about being a head coach.
A decade later, Fitzgerald and his Northwestern Wildcats are still teaching teams like the Gophers how to win in the Big Ten.
Northwestern beats Iowa 14-10
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Northwestern clinched bowl eligibility and a spot in its conference title game on the same day.
Only in the Big Ten West.
Isaiah Bowser ran for 165 yards and a touchdown and Northwestern upset Iowa 14-10 on Saturday to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Championship.
The Wildcats will now await their opponent for the league title game in Indianapolis next month.
Northwestern hopes to continue Big Ten West push at Iowa
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Despite a 5-4 record, Northwestern holds all the cards in the Big Ten West title chase.
The underdog Wildcats will look to solidify their division position at Iowa, a team looking to rebound from back-to-back road losses and finish 2018 on a high note.
West title in reach, Northwestern tops Big Ten surprises
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern came into the season with its star quarterback limited, lost its top running back early on, dropped three straight games and went winless in nonconference play.
Sounds like a recipe for one long season, except take a look at the Big Ten West standings. That's right, the Wildcats lead the lead the division.
"Yeah, it's been a really unique year," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
With Frost eyeing first win, Nebraska meets Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — As a coach leading his alma mater, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald can imagine what this season has been like for Nebraska's Scott Frost.
"There's just something a little bit more when you're at your alma mater," he said. "It just means more. It means more when you win. It hurts more when you don't win."
A win against Northwestern sure would be meaningful, considering the Cornhuskers come into their game Saturday still seeking their first victory under Frost.
No. 14 Michigan looks to keep rolling against Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — On the surface, this seems like a good time for No. 14 Michigan to visit Northwestern.
The Wolverines come rolling into the game on Saturday with three straight blowout wins since they dropped the opener and the Wildcats are reeling.
Not only has Northwestern (1-2, 1-0 Big Ten) lost two in a row, top running back Jeremy Larkin informed his team Monday that he had to stop playing football because of a spinal condition.
Streak over, Northwestern looks to bounce back against Akron
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — After winning nine in a row, Northwestern hopes to avoid a different kind of run.
The Wildcats will try to avoid back-to-back losses when they host Akron on Saturday now that their streak is a thing of the past thanks to a 21-7 home loss to Duke.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald sees potential trouble against Akron.
Larkin helps Northwestern extend streak with win at Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Jeremy Larkin proved he could be Northwestern's workhorse Thursday night.
He also showed he's more than capable of replacing career rushing leader Justin Jackson.
In his first game as the Wildcats' feature back, the sophomore carried 26 times for a career-high 143 yards, scored two touchdowns and helped close out a season-opening 31-27 victory at Purdue with a final drive that consumed more than 7½ minutes.
Northwestern hoping to earn respect with rare fast start
The Northwestern Wildcats understand the early-season stakes.
They enter Thursday night's season-opener at Purdue with eight straight wins, the longest active streak among power conference teams. They've also won eight straight against Big Ten foes. And if they beat the Boilermakers, the Wildcats will match their longest streaks since the 1995 Rose Bowl season.
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EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Former Clemson quarterback and highly touted recruit Hunter Johnson is transferring to Northwestern.
Johnson will have to sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and have three years of eligibility left. Northwestern has senior Clayton Thorson coming back from a knee injury and set to start at quarterback this season.
OSU football: The most interesting thoughts from Mike Gundy during his ESPN MegaCast appearance
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy joined five other college football coaches in room sitting in semi-comfortable chairs eating pizza and drinking beverages just like most of Americans while enjoying the College Football Playoff championship game.
Northwestern hires former LB McGarigle as safeties coach
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern has hired former Wildcats star linebacker Tim McGarigle as safeties coach.
The FBS record-holder with 545 tackles, McGarigle is joining coach Pat Fitzgerald's staff for the second time. He served as a graduate assistant in 2011.
OSU football: Mike Gundy to be part of ESPN MegaCast during College Football Playoff championship
Oklahoma State fans will have a reason to watch the College Football Playoff national championship game between Alabama and Georgia tonight.
The OSU head coach will be part of ESPN's College Football Playoff MegaCast providing real-time analysis along with former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, Colorado State coach Mike Bobo and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald in the Coaches' Film Room on ESPNews starting at 7 p.m.
Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, throwing his future up in the air.
The school said Tuesday he will work with the athletic training staff to prepare for surgery in mid-January. There was no timetable for his return.
Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson tears ACL in right knee
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, throwing his future up in the air.
The school said Tuesday he will work with the athletic training staff to prepare for surgery in mid-January. There was no timetable for his return.
No. 20 Northwestern edges Kentucky 24-23 in Music City Bowl
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Go ahead and question Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's decisions to go for it over and over on fourth down, even late in a move that nearly cost the Wildcats dearly.
His defense had their coach's back.
The Wildcats broke up Kentucky's 2-point conversion, and No. 20 Northwestern held off Kentucky 24-23 on Friday in a Music City Bowl that might be remembered more for injuries, ejections and a wild finish.
No. 20 Northwestern looking for history at Music City Bowl
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and his 20th-ranked Wildcats have a chance to make school history with victory against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
They could walk away with back-to-back bowl victories for the first time in Northwestern history. It would also mark a 10-win season for the second time in three years and be the 27th victory for the Wildcats' seniors.
Northwestern clearly moved on from an early season loss to Duke and a 2-3 start that generated plenty of criticism toward Pat Fitzgerald and his program.
The Wildcats lost back-to-back Big Ten games to Wisconsin and Penn State in that stretch but they refocused and finished the season with a flourish and a seven-game winning streak, including a 42-7 dismantling of Illinois last Saturday.
Jackson, defense lead No. 23 Northwestern past Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Justin Jackson ran for 144 yards and a touchdown and No. 23 Northwestern won its seventh straight, beating Illinois 42-7 on Saturday.
The bowl-bound Wildcats (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten) held Illinois scoreless after giving up a first-quarter touchdown, and put 42 straight points on the board.
"I thought we would have to weather a storm there early, and we did," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "After that, I thought our defense was absolutely dominant."
No. 23 Northwestern faces Illini, looking for 7th straight W
No. 23 Northwestern (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten, CFP No. 22) at Illinois (2-9, 0-8), Saturday, 4 p.m. ET (FS1)
Thorson, Jackson lead Northwestern to 39-0 rout Minnesota
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — It was cold, rainy and windy at Ryan Field on Saturday. Just the way Northwestern wanted it.
Clayton Thorson had three touchdown passes, Justin Jackson added 166 yards rushing on 31 carries and Northwestern won its sixth straight with a 39-0 rout of Minnesota.
The Wildcats (8-3, 6-2 Big Ten) also forced five turnovers on defense. Cornerback Montre Hartage had an interception and a fumble recovery to set up two touchdowns.
For Fleck, advice over lunch from Fitzgerald still resonates
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — All those years later, Minnesota's P.J. Fleck recalls the advice about running a program he got from Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald over lunch.
It still resonates to this day.
"'Just make sure you don't manage anybody,'" Fleck recalls Fitzgerald telling him. "'Make sure you lead people. Managing, we manage machines. We lead people.' And that was the greatest quote that I could have learned at the time to become the leader of whatever I wanted to become."
Big Ten Spotlight: Michigan’s Kugler laments gaps in slate
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Big Ten football players who stay in school for five years can still end up not playing in every stadium in the conference.
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said it would be a good idea to try to change that by scheduling at least one visit to each Big Ten stadium every four years.
Gophers’ P.J. Fleck, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald go way back in coaching careers
In 2007, the first-year wide receivers coach at Northern Illinois had ambition in his belly, a 26-year-old someday hoping to be a major college head coach. So, he contacted a young, up-and-coming head coach, a 32-year-old a couple of hours drive away at Northwestern, hoping to pick his brain.
The two met for lunch in Evanston, Ill., with P.J. Fleck gaining the knowledge he sought from Pat Fitzgerald.
Charboneau: Fitzgerald’s Wildcats continue to purr
It turns out Northwestern doesn't have to go overtime to get a win in the Big Ten.
The 23-13 victory over Purdue on Saturday night was your standard, garden-variety four-quarter game that moved along at a fairly brisk pace, a pleasant revelation for those braving the cold at Ryan Field.
But after playing overtime games in each of the three previous games, the Wildcats didn't mind getting things taken care of in the requisite amount of time.
Thorson 1-yard run gives Northwestern 17-10 OT win over Iowa
EVENSTON, Ill. (AP) — After completing a short pass, quarterback Clayton Thorson saw two defenders approaching running back Justin Jackson and thought it was a mismatch — against the defense.
Jackson's 23-yard reception on third-and-9 set up Thorson's 1-yard touchdown run as Northwestern rallied from a sluggish first half for a 17-10 overtime victory over Iowa on Saturday.
Jackson, Thorson carry Northwestern past Maryland 37-21
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — With record-setting Justin Jackson leading the way, Northwestern got its groove back on offense and cruised to a much-needed victory.
Jackson scored two touchdowns and ran for 171 yards to become the Wildcats' career rushing leader , and Northwestern beat Maryland 37-21 Saturday for its first Big Ten win of the season.
Penn State’s Franklin sees possible trouble in Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Penn State coach James Franklin sees the talent Northwestern has and the success the Wildcats have experienced under Pat Fitzgerald.
That's why he sees potential trouble for the Nittany Lions.
No. 4 Penn State looks to remain unbeaten and in line for a playoff spot when it visits Northwestern on Saturday.
BIG TEN SPOTLIGHT: Dominant ‘D,’ a conference characteristic
Twenty-five years ago, Pat Fitzgerald was a two-way player for Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois, in the southwest part of the suburban crescent around Chicago.
He soon blossomed into a star linebacker for Northwestern, leading the once-woebegone Wildcats to consecutive Big Ten championships. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the national defensive player of the year twice in a row. He even bounced back from a badly broken leg to reach the second round of accolades.
Northwestern hopes to start turnaround against Bowling Green
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Just like last year, Northwestern is struggling in the early going. Don't think coach Pat Fitzgerald is buying the comparisons, though.
The Wildcats come into Saturday's game against Bowling Green trying to shake off a blowout loss and find their footing.
"I get it," Fitzgerald said. "But there's way too much stock put in what happened last year. This is a totally different team."
Thorson’s late TDs lift Northwestern over Nevada 31-20
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Quarterback Clayton Thorson scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes and Northwestern beat Nevada 31-20 in Saturday's opener for both teams.
Trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter, Thorson directed a 75-yard drive that culminated in his following the block of right guard Tommy Doles to crash the end zone for a 24-20 lead. Thorson scored on another 1-yard plunge with 52 seconds to play, ending Nevada's upset hopes in Jay Norvell's first game as Wolf Pack coach.
Big Ten’s new coaches chasing breakthrough seasons
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Tom Allen and Jeff Brohm remember watching the Big Ten at its rugged best.
P.J. Fleck just heard the stories about the emotional sideline antics of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler being as entertaining as the games. Back then, three yards and a cloud of dust was all the rage and massive offensive linemen overpowered defenders while big running backs crashed through holes.
Ara Parseghian remembered by coaches, former players
Reaction from around college football on the death Wednesday of Ara Parseghian, who won two national titles at Notre Dame and also coached at Northwestern and Miami University, at 94.
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Carrying the load for Northwestern is a seven-day-a-week job for Justin Jackson.
On Sundays, the Wildcats' day off, Jackson is back at the football facility stretching and straining the lactic acid out of his aching muscles for two, three, maybe four hours.
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern locked up its homegrown football and basketball coaches for the long term.
Football coach Pat Fitzgerald signed a new contract that runs through the 2026 season. Basketball coach Chris Collins' contract was extended through the 2024-25 season. Both are Chicago-area natives.
AP source: Northwestern extending Fitzgerald, Collins
Northwestern has agreed to a new contract with football coach Pat Fitzgerald that runs through the 2026 season, according to two people with direct knowledge of the deal.
Jackson powers Northwestern past Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl
NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Jackson has the last name made for the bright lights at Yankee Stadium.
He had the kind of postseason game worthy of the setting.
"Big city. Big stage," he said. "We walked into Yankee Stadium and everything kind of really hit us."
Jackson made his case in the home of the Yankees to become Northwestern's Mr. December.
N’western runs over Illinois, 42-21, behind Jackson, Moten
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Justin Jackson ran his way into the Northwestern record books in just three seasons and could finish his career as the school's all-time leading rusher.
Still, he is content right now to share the running back position with emerging newcomer John Moten.
Jackson rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns, Moten added 128 yards and two touchdowns and Northwestern became bowl eligible with a 42-21 victory over Illinois on Saturday.
Northwestern looks to become bowl eligible against Illinois
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald feels like he has been living through one of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories this season.
He sees things going as planned during the week. Things get dicey once the weekend hits — and this is a big one.
The Wildcats become eligible for a bowl if they beat Illinois in Saturday's season finale.
Badgers football: Northwestern turning its season around after brutal start
Coach Pat Fitzgerald blames himself for the Northwestern football team's shocking loss to FCS opponent Illinois State in Week 2 of this season.
The Wildcats were coming off another upset loss at home to Western Michigan in which quarterback Clayton Thorson fumbled at the 1-yard line with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Fitzgerald, whose team won an impressive 10 games in 2015, wasn’t happy with the performance, and he let his team know about it on the practice field.
Northwestern throttles Indiana 24-14 for third straight win
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Indiana and Northwestern have the look of two Big Ten teams passing in midseason.
Quarterback Clayton Thorson threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, and the resurgent Wildcats bolted to an early lead then coasted past the Hoosiers 24-14 for their third straight victory.
In a reversal of its 1-3 start to the season, Northwestern (4-3, 3-1) took a 24-3 lead and wasn't seriously threatened the rest of the way.