Vikings backup quarterback Trevor Siemian said it is no surprise that Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern Wildcats have secured their first Big Ten West title after starting the season 1-3 with losses to Duke and Akron.
Siemian played at Northwestern from 2011 to 2014 when they went 26-24 overall and Siemian, who officially started just 14 games, finished fourth all-time in passing yards for the Wildcats.
Northwestern will come into TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday to face the Gophers, who are trying to reach their first bowl game under head coach P.J. Fleck after a surprising win over Purdue last Saturday.
Northwestern hasn’t won the Big Ten since 2000, but Siemian said he believed Fitzgerald, who took over the team in 2006, was going to take the team to these kind of heights.
“He is a heck of a coach, a better person,” Siemian said. “He was so good to me and really fortunate for my time there. I am just glad to see he has those guys rolling and hopefully they can get another one this weekend.
“I am not surprised. It is really a cool time to be an alum and a fan. I couldn’t be more proud. It’s a lot of fun to watch those guys and I am really happy for them.”
Northwestern is led by quarterback Clayton Thorson, who has thrown for 2,335 yards, 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
But they have also dealt with a lot of injuries to players like cornerback Greg Newson II, wide receiver Jalen Brown and linebacker Nathan Fox. On Saturday they’ll be without cornerbacks Montre Hartage and Trae Williams, safety Jared McGee, and their kicker Charlie Kuhbander.
How does Siemian account for that?
“It’s obviously a really resilient group. I mean it’s just a testament to those guys and the character to keep chipping at it and keep coming together and again just so fun to watch those guys,” he said.
And while the Vikings backup went 0-2 as a starter against the Gophers, losing 20-17 at home in 2013 and 24-17 at TCF Bank Stadium in 2014. He did put up some impressive numbers. In total he completed 57 of 96 passes for 503 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“You know Minnesota has always been a tough place to play, to come up here,” Siemian said. “It will be fun to watch. I’m hoping the Cats get another one.”