In 2022, how will Northwestern perform? – Northwestern has followed a bizarre trend in recent seasons, from winning the Big Ten West to falling to the bottom of the division and then repeating the cycle. It’s not how coach Pat Fitzgerald envisioned it. However, he would make another enormous leap.
After finishing in last place in the division in 2021, the Wildcats will attempt to continue their downward trend for at least one more season before reversing course. Fitzgerald said, “We have more competitive depth and maybe more experience than we had at this time last year.”
Fitzgerald, who was a great linebacker during Northwestern’s Cinderella run to the Rose Bowl in 1995, is by far the most successful coach for the Wildcats. Since 2006, he has coached the team to a 109-90 record and ten bowl games. But during the last four years, they have fluctuated like a yo-yo.
In 2018, Northwestern won the Big Ten West and qualified for the conference championship game for the first time. The Wildcats finished 9-5 after losing to Ohio State and defeating Utah in the Holiday Bowl.
The next season, they finished 3-9 and halted their streak of four straight bowl appearances. In 2020, they once again dominated the Big Ten West. They challenged Ohio State in the conference championship game and defeated Auburn in the Citrus Bowl to end the pandemic-shortened season with a 7-2 record.
With an offense and defense that rated among the poorest in the Big Ten, they concluded the season with a 3-9 record and a 1-8 conference mark. Fitzgerald anticipates that increased experience and depth on both teams will push another even-year leap.
If the Wildcats want to advance, their quarterback performance must improve. A daily sports newsletter sent to your email during your commute in the morning. Ryan Hilinski returns to Northwestern for his second season after transferring from South Carolina. He will likely face competition from the sophomore Brendan Sullivan and the junior Carl Richardson.
Last season, Hilinski started five games and passed for 978 yards in nine outings. He had more interceptions than touchdowns (four) and was a member of a team that was picked off 14 times. Indiana was the only Big Ten club with more interceptions, with 15.
Evan Hull, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, and Cam Porter, who missed last season due to a lower-body ailment, might form a solid running back combination for Northwestern. As a sophomore, Hull rushed for 1,009 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. Porter, a junior, was hurt during last year’s training camp following a strong 2020 rookie year. In December, he rushed for 142 yards against Illinois and 98 yards against Auburn.
Last year, Northwestern had one of the league’s worst scoring defenses, down from the best in 2020. The Wildcats allowed 29 points per game, a significant increase from 15.9 the previous year. In addition, they were 13th out of 14 teams in sacks with 19 and allowed the most running yards in the league with 213 per game.
Bryce Gallagher returns for his junior season after producing 89 tackles, including 54 solo stops, last year. However, the Wildcats have a need in the secondary. Safety Brandon Joseph, a 2020 freshman All-American, transferred to Notre Dame.
The Wildcats’ season begins on August 27 with a travel to Ireland to face Nebraska in the season opener. Last season, each club went 1-8 in conference play. Beginning in October, Northwestern must travel to Penn State before hosting Wisconsin at home. The Ohio State Buckeyes visit on November 5.
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