Northwestern Wildcats: CFN College Football Preview 2021

Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern Wildcats: CFN College Football Preview 2021

2021 Preview

Northwestern Wildcats: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Northwestern season with what you need to know.


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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Northwestern Wildcats Schedule Analysis
– Northwestern Wildcats Previews
20202019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 7-2 overall, 6-2 in Big Ten
Head Coach: Pat Fitzgerald, 16th year, 106-81
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 10
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 53
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 110

Northwestern Wildcats College Football Preview 2021: Offense

Northwestern’s 2019 offense was just plain sad. It was among the most inept in college football, was dead-last in passing efficiency, and it averaged 297 yards and 16 points per game. The offensive line play got stronger, the quarterback play was better, and the 2020 version was night-and-day more efficient. It wasn’t that great, but it worked like the Northwestern offense is supposed to – it controlled games.

The rise of Peyton Ramsey had a whole lot to do with that, but he’s done. Out goes the Indiana transfer to the NFL, and in comes South Carolina transfer Ryan Hilinski to battle with former Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson to keep it all going. Johnson was named the starter, but Hilinski should still push for time.

Getting WR Stephon Robinson from Kansas is a huge help – he was a nice playmaker in 2019 with over 16 yards per catch and eight scores – but the Wildcats have to replace their top four pass catchers. There’s size, and there’s promise – TE Charlie Mangieri caught a few touchdown passes and Bryce Kirtz is a quick target who can grow into a job – but the corps takes a massive hit.

The running game has found its guy, and now it’s in trouble. Cam Porter didn’t do much for most of his freshman season, and then he ripped up Illinois and took over the offense over the last three games. About to be the star of the attack, he was lost for the year after suffering a leg injury in fall camp.

No. 2 back Drake Anderson is leaving for Arizona and Isaiah Bowser is a Miami University RedHawk, but Bowling Green transfer Andrew Clair comes in after running for close to 2,000 yards with 13 scores over the last four years. Now Clair goes from being a key backup to the main man.

Three starters are back on a line that was good enough in pass protection to be a plus. There isn’t a ton of bulk and this group won’t blast away, but it’ll be solid around excellent all-star tackle Peter Skoronski.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Northwestern Wildcats Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Northwestern Wildcats College Football Preview 2021: Defense

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