NCAAF Northwestern Wildcats

General Information

Conference: Big Ten
NCAA Division: Division 1
City: Evanston, Illinois
Stadium: Ryan Field


  • National Championships: 0
  • Conference Titles: 8
  • Divisional Championships: 2

Past Conferences


Northwesten Wildcats Stats & Analysis

Check out all the information related to team stats.

All-Time Northwestern Wildcats Stats & Records

Passing yards

  • Clayton Thorson: 10,731
  • Brett Basanez: 10,580
  • Len Williams: 7,487
  • C.J. Bacher: 7,319
  • Trevor Siemian: 5,931

Rushing yards

  • Justin Jackson: 5,440
  • Damien Anderson: 4,485
  • Tyrell Sutton: 3,886
  • Darnell Autry: 3,793
  • Dennis Lundy: 3,062

Receiving yards

  • D’Wayne Bates: 3,370
  • Richard Buchanan: 2,474
  • Jeremy Ebert: 2,400
  • Ross Lane: 2,068
  • Eric Peterman: 2,011

Northwestern Wildcats – NCAAF History

Team History

The Northwestern Wildcats are one of the older college football programs, their first intramural games going back to 1876. The Wildcats won their first Big Ten Championship in 1903 under coach Walter McCornack. The Wildcats won the Big Ten in 1926, 1930, 1931, and 1936 but wouldn’t win another title until 1995.


Ara Parseghian became head coach in 1956 and brought something special to the program. In 1958, the Wildcats beat both Ohio State and Michigan and finished with a 5-4 record. This season was followed by the Wildcats being ranked in the preseason top 10. Parseghian was a masterful recruiter.

The Wildcats weren’t as stout as Ohio State or Michigan, but he knew how to recruit and get certain players that were undervalued by other schools in the recruiting process. He finished with a record of 36-35-1 but his impact was felt.


From Quiet to Champs

The 60s, 70s, and 80s were rather quiet for the Wildcats. In 1992, the Wildcats brought on Gary Barnett as head coach. Barnett was successful and won two Big Ten championships in 1995 and 1996.


In the year 1999, Randy Walker was brought on as head coach. In the year 2000, Walker and the Wildcats introduced the spread offense at Northwestern. It was very successful, and they won the Big Ten.

Additionally, Walker won Big Ten coach of the year. The Wildcats’ offense averaged nearly 30 points per game. Running back Damien Anderson accumulated 2,000 rush yards to go along with the dynamic aerial attack.


Pat Fitzgerald has been head coach of the Wildcats since 2006. The Wildcats posted losing records in each of his first two seasons. However, his next three seasons were all winning seasons. Unfortunately, the Wildcats lost bowl games in each of those seasons. In 2012, the Wildcats finished with an astonishing 10-3 record, including their first bowl win.

They beat Mississippi State 17-16, marking their first bowl win since 1948. Fitzgerald and the Wildcats have posted a winning record in nine of his seventeen seasons at the helm. In 2018 and 2020, the Wildcats won the West division of the Big Ten. The Wildcats are 5-5 in bowl games under Fitzgerald.

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What is the highest win total in program history?

The Wildcats finished with ten wins in 1903, 1995, 2012 and 2017. The 1903 and 1995 seasons ended with the Wildcats winning conference championships. 

What was the worst season in program history?

In 1980, 1981 and 1989 the Wildcats finished 0-11. 1981 was the worst of the three. Offensively, the Wildcats averaged an abysmal 48 rush yards per game, while the defense gave up more than 500 yards per game. 

How many bowl games have the Wildcats made?

The Wildcats have appeared in 16 bowl games. They currently have a 6-10 record in bowl games.

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