Hot Stove Football 2005

<b>CFN</b>'s Preseason Rankings suggest a really tough Big 10 Schedule for the Wildcats.<br> <br> New Coaches, fight for Bragging Rights and Revenge just might be the stories of the <b>Northwestern </b>2005 season.<br> <br> College Football News has their preseason rankings out and here's how the Big 10 and the non conference teams stack up against the <b>Cats </b>in this very early preseason ranking.<br>

Yeah, its really too early to predict the Big 10 Season...
But the gang at College Football News had done it and if it all comes true, the Big 10 will be an even bigger dogfight this year, with a few big changes.

First off - CFN ranks the Iowa Hawkeyes as the #3 team. Once again, they're back on our schedule, and is potentially one of the top teams in the country, not just the Big 10.
Ohio State is ranked #4 - Revenge at home will probably be theme of this contest, November 12th. Of course the mini Soap Opera that has taken hold in Columbus could shake this bunch to their core, but this is Tressell's 3rd year. He should have them all going the same direction now.

Michigan is another top 15 team that the Cats face in 2005. CFN predicts a fall off from last year's season because of graduation. Yes, we get them at home, but they're still a formidable foe, and they're the first in a 3 game stretch where we face the top 3 preseason teams in the Big 10.

The other top 15 team on the list is Purdue. Even though the star QB is gone, along with his star receiver, most of the Boilermaker defense returns for 2005, and they've got a few things to prove. Of course PU has to score, but when was lack of scoring a hallmark of a Joe Tiller team?

The CFN gang expects Penn State to rebound this year, we'll see. Wisconsin is also expected to take a tumble after they lose their D-Line. MSU is a questionmark - this could be their year to suddenly reappear. Indiana and Illinois both have new high profile head coaches but they're also a year or two away. The Illini do have a decent recruiting class but...
The non-conference teams are also intriguing
Ohio University also has a new head coach, one who like the run the option. The good news is that it usually takes a year or two to get the option running. The bad news is that NU really doesn't like to build a defense around stopping the option. Its the opening game - played with few students around.

Northern Illinois is another dangerous foe and they'd like nothing more than to come down to Chicago and beat up a Big 10 team. They've tasted the heights, beating Maryland a few years back, and their recruiting in Chicago would take another big jump if they can showcase a decent team in Evanston.

Our revenge game has to be Arizona State. Its one of the preconference games we should have won last year and this time its down on their turf, where its hot in September.
All and All...
Its another tough schedule for the Wildcats. Two of our home games are played before the students arrive in September against opponents who should be able to travel down to Ryan and grab a bunch of seats.

There's nothing tougher than a home game where the fans are all from the other side.

But for better or worse, there it is - the CFN's full Big 10 rankings are below.

CFN's Big 10 Rankings
[with our game dates in parens]
:

  • Iowa #3 [11/5] - Kirk Ferents has most of his team back and a long list of "stud" recruits to fill in an already strong team. They follow Michigan into Ryan. - We get them at home in Evanston
  • Ohio State #4 [11/12] - lots of distractions off season as the NCAA might be nosing around Columbus, but they've got everything in place, except maybe a QB - To make matters worse, our game with the Bucks is the week after we play Iowa.  Cats have to play them on the road.
  • Michigan #13 [10/29] - Several NFL quality players gone from defense, and a top WR from offense. Question will be can they reload enough. This game is Homecoming and leads off a 3 game "murderers row" schedule. We play them in Evanston.
  • Purdue #14 [10/15] - They get almost their entire Defense back, and have to rebuild the offense. NU knocked them out of the Big 10 race last year - don't expect to sneak up on them this time. We have to play them on the road.
  • Minnesota #19 - We don't play them this year
  • Penn State #29 [9/24] - The Defense is all back and JoPa has recruited a bunch of blue chippers for Offense. They lost QB Zack Mills, but the rest of the team is already working towards 2005. Another game where revenge could sneak in. Game in Evanston as we open the Big 10 season.
  • Michigan State #35 [10/22] - Drew Stanton is the key - he stays healthy and MSU could be tough too. We play them on the road
  • Wisconsin #41 [10/8] - Their star running back is gone [Davis] so is the D-Line. They have receivers and a decent O-Line, but who will call the signals? We have them at home this year
  • Northwestern #55 - We lost 3 front 5 starters, but at least there's backups who should step up. McGarigle returns to lead the defense and Loren Howard is still there.
  • Illinois #64 [11/19] - The Ron Zook factor is the question mark. They've got a lot of decent players returning and a QB, but the D is still open. Zook did retain most of those coaches. This one is on the road
  • Indiana #84 - Watch out for Terry Hoeppner - he only turned Miami of Ohio into a MAC powerhouse after taking over from Randy W and is a defensive expert, but he's got a big recruiting effort to mount before he'll have a top notch defense. We don't play them this year.
And the other teams on the 2005 Schedule
  • Ohio #110 [9/3] - New Coach and new system - maybe the option, one of the banes of NU's defense over the years. Game is in Evanston.
  • Northern Illinois #62 [9/10] Wouldn't they like to beat NU at home this year - talk about bragging rights.  Game is in Evanston.
  • Arizona State #11 [9/17] and we play them on the road
Anyway, here are the links to the CFN rankins 1-119


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