Northwestern Football Has School Single Season Wins Record in Crosshairs

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With a 39-0 blowout over Minnesota on Senior Day, Northwestern football is in prime shape now to tie the school record for single season wins (1995, 2012, 2015). Next week they’ll head to Champaign for what is the easiest game on the league schedule by far, against the hapless Illinois Fighting Illini.

Illinois lost 52-14 at #9 Ohio State, in a game that saw the largest point spread in a B1G conference game ever on record (41 points). Obviously, the Illini covered, so give them credit for that, but expect Vegas to open tomorrow with Northwestern football as 25 point favorites, give or take.

northwestern football tyler lancaster

Unless an Earth-shaking upset occurs, NU gets win #9 on rivalry Saturday, and then aims for #10 in their bowl game, which will probably be one of these four: Holiday, Foster Farms, Outback or Citrus. Win number eight game in extremely dominant fashion, and this time the victim was P.J. Fleck and Minnesota, as the Wildcats won the yardage battle 363-182 and ended up +5 in the turnover margin.

Unfortunately, they did so in front of proverbial friends and family only, as the horribly adverse weather conditions meant that only the truest purple hearts showed up for this one.

“Thanks to everybody for being here on such a beautiful Chicago day,” said Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald.

“And thanks to all of our fans, it was not a country club day. You’re a true Wildcat if you were at this one.”

minnesota at northwestern

northwestern football gophers

As Axl Rose taught us in the early ’90s, “nothing lasts forever, even cold November Rain.” The rain became sleet, which then became snow, and the wind was no picnic either. Commuting to Ryan Field was treacherous too, as many roadways and sidewalks were flooded. In some places, the flooding was almost bad enough but you couldn’t help but think of Fleck’s trademarked slogan: “row the boat.”

Fitzgerald is an admitted massive weather nerd.

“If you ask our coaches I’m a freak about it. I check it when I get up in the morning before I brush my teeth, after lunch….just want to give our guys their best chance,” he said.

Fitz really enjoys the work of noted Chicago weather expert Tom Skilling. (Outdoor grilling? Better watch Skilling!)

“I’m a big Skilling fan, I always have been…I’m just a weather.com guy, I keep it pretty simple. It’s been pretty accurate.”

Skilling is a meteorology legend, much like Justin Jackson is a Northwestern football legend in the making.

Jackson, already NU’s all time leading rusher, became just the ninth player in FBS history, and second in B1G history to rush for a 1,000 yards in all four years. He also moved into 17th all-time in the NCAA in career rushing yards with 5,139. Bread and Butter finished with 166 yards on the day, leaving him just one yard behind Montee Ball for fourth all time among B1G rushers.

He’s 160 behind Anthony Thompson for third and 450 behind two-time Heisman trophy winner Archie Griffin for second place.

The great Ron Dayne is that other B1G back to go one large in four different seasons, and he sits atop the list with 7,125 yards. It’s fair to say that his mark is well out of reach.

justin-jackson

Still given how dreadful the Illini run defense is this year, and the fact that the Wrigley Field game is still fresh in the minds of many in the Northwestern football community, look for NU to hand it to the ball-carrier over and over and over, and watch him pile up the yardage.

The Illini absolutely destroyed Northwestern in that game, as Mikel LeShoure’s piled up a school record 330 yards rushing. Perhaps this Saturday brings the Northwestern football program answer to that?

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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