NU–which could find itself in the preseason top 20–will host one of the most anticipated games in program history. With new life under Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes did not lose last season but fell victim to sanctions that excluded them from bowl season. OSU scored early and often, perfectly utilizing dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller. Meyer hauled in another exceptional recruiting class—only adding to the hype in Columbus.
It's different here. Just last season, we wondered whether the Wildcats could recover from the loss of key offensive linemen and their two best pass-catchers. Now, we're in the midst of unbridled optimism. The biggest question on Monday involved College GameDay. Will Lee Corso and Desmond Howard arrive in Evanston and indulge in Buffalo Joe's before televising the Ryan Field showdown? It seems like a distinct possibility.
At the end of the day, the 10-win season marked an immeasurable step forward for the program. Sure, the Gator Bowl selection was somewhat anticlimactic. For several days, a game with Alabama or Texas A&M was within the realm of possibility. But the resulting national exposure and built-up program confidence from 2012 has carried over in multiple ways.
The recruiting class has come together nicely. Players wore workout shirts labeled "5:03," highlighting just how close NU was to an undefeated season. Now, fans can prepare for thrilling Berkeley road trips and the promise of primetime—perhaps even GameDay. Regardless, the recognition continues to pour in for the 2013 Wildcats, a team that looks as confident as ever.