Three things to know about No. 16 Northwestern:
Playing serious ‘D’, just like Coach
Pat Fitzgerald was Sports Illustrated’s Defensive Player of the Year when he was a Wildcats linebacker in the mid-1990s. This year’s Wildcats are playing just like their coach. They held Stanford to six points in their opener, shut out Eastern Illinois and then held a Duke team that just put up 34 on Georgia Tech to only 10 points. In their most recent game they gave up 19 to Ball State but held the Cardinals to a field goal in a tight fourth quarter.
Jackson is their David Cobb
Last season was The Year of the Running Back in the Big Ten, so you’re forgiven for missing Justin Jackson’s 1,187-yard freshman campaign. The Wildcats tailback, now a sophomore, is making sure you notice his second season. He bulled Stanford for 134 yards, and since then he’s gone for 78, 120 and then 184 yards against Ball State. Jackson, a smaller back at 5-11 and 190 pounds, had 106 yards against the Gophers last season. Watch out for No. 21.
Watching the polls
The Wildcats are ranked No. 16 by the Associated Press, the highest of any Big Ten West team. A victory Saturday likely bumps them into the top 15, while a Gophers victory could put Minnesota in the top 25 for the first time this season.