Northwestern Football Hopes to Make B1G Title Games the New Normal

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For Northwestern football, the goal is to have it so Big Ten title game appearances are no longer novel or new, but instead routine. The Big Ten has gotten so used to seeing Wisconsin and Ohio State (sometimes both at the same time) in the league title game that when we do see another program earn a place in Indianapolis, it’s a bold change of pace.

#20 Northwestern lost 45-24 to #6 Ohio State tonight in a game that saw the Wildcats claw back into it during the third quarter, but fade away early in the fourth. After the game, Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald expressed his ambitions of making this game essentially part of the annual schedule.

“I’d like it to be the new normal. I look forward to being here every December,” he said.

“For the maturation of our program this was the next step. I got asked during the week ‘how are you going to get over with just being happy to be here?’ I think we proved that, that we weren’t just happy to be here. Our guys understand to get to this game you have to earn it.”

“Our guys did that.”

Although the loss was very disappointing, things are definitely trending in the right direction for Northwestern football. They’ll learn their bowl game destination in a matter of hours, with the Holiday Bowl or the Gator Bowl the most likely scenarios. Any bowl other than those two would be a surprise at this point.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson discussed what the team will use as motivation from the loss to Ohio State as they head into their bowl game:

“Starting better and coming out right from the gate like we did in the second half. I think it will be something we stress and just getting the ball out and just making plays.”

The Wildcats will have 14 games in total this season, instead of the typical 13. They will look to win three bowl games in a row for the first time in school history.

Perhaps the experience of this week, the bowl game like atmosphere in Indy, will give the team an advantage as they transition from game 13 to game 14.

“I hope it ends up being, especially for the young players we had out there tonight, a great lesson,” said Fitzgerald.

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“Not only for the bowl game, but then for the future. I really think they prepared very well. I don’t think the moment was above ’em.”

“I don’t think they panicked, I don’t think they pressed, but now they know what it takes to win a Big Ten championship, and i think until you’re in this game, you really don’t understand all that extra work that needs to go into getting out of that field with a celebration.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation. 

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Lineups.com and Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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