Moving right along in our previews of Penn State opponents for 2014, its time to start looking at the Big Ten portion of the schedule.
The Northwestern Wildcats invade Beaver Stadium on Saturday Sept. 27 at 12 PM in Penn State’s annual Homecoming Game. This will be the second time in three years that Northwestern will be the Nittany Lions homecoming opponent. Many Penn State fans will remember the last encounter was a 39-28 come-from-behind win in 2012 where the Nittany Lions outscored the Wildcats 22-0 in the fourth quarter.
Since Pat Fitzgerald took over as head coach of Northwestern in 2006, Penn State is one team that he has not been able to defeat, going 0-4 against the Nittany Lions. Will 2014 be any different?
Northwestern is the Big Ten’s most enigmatic team. Each year the Wildcats posses explosive weapons both offensively and defensively, which leads to talk of a division crown. Each year since 2007 the Wildcats have quickly bolted out of the gate winning at least their opening two games. And, each season, save for 2008 and 2012, following their hot start, they have cooled off just as rapidly, losing at least the next two games following the opening win streak.
In order for Northwestern to avoid the same fate this season, it is going to need to embody the same hunger and tenacity, on both sides of the ball, that head coach Pat Fitzgerald did when he was an All-Big Ten player for the school from 1993-1996.
- Head Coach – Pat Fitzgerald, 9th season (55-46)
- Conference – Big Ten, West Division
- 2013 Record – 5-7 (1-7 Legend’s Division)
- Key Departures – QB Kain Colter, RB Venric Mark, RB Mike Trumpy, WR Rashad Lawrence, DL Tyler Scott, LB Damien Proby, PK Jeff Budzien
- Key Returners – QB Trevor Siemian, RB Treyvon Green, WR Tony Jones, DL Dean Lowry, LB Chi Chi Araguzo, CB Nick VanHoose, S Ibraheim Campbell