Northwestern doesn’t beat itself. That’s a fact B1G teams know too well.
Over the years, the Wildcats have been one of the more consistent teams in the league, primarily because of consistent quarterback play, a solid defense and, of course, team discipline. It’s something Pat Fitzgerald takes a lot of pride in.
Last year, Northwestern was the least penalized team in the B1G and college football by a pretty wide margin. In 14 games, the Wildcats were flagged just 40 times for 363 yards, an NCAA best by eight penalties and over four yards per game.
“We’re an incredibly disciplined football team. We were the lowest penalized team in the country last year,” Fitzgerald said during Northwestern’s media day this week. “I think that’s not a some-of-the-time thing, that’s an all-the-time thing. It’s things we coach every day, things we talk about every day.
“What I’m getting at is, when the heat’s up, when plays are on the line, we don’t panic, we don’t flinch, we don’t beat ourselves. And when you beat us, we tip our hat, we take it off, we shake your hand and congratulate you, because we know you beat us.”
Northwestern was only beaten once in B1G regular season play last year, a home loss to Michigan. The Wildcats finished conference play with an 8-1 record and earned a trip to the B1G Championship Game, winning their first division title in school history.
Overall, Northwestern went 9-5.
As long as Northwestern continues to stay disciplined, it will be one of the more difficult teams to beat in the B1G. Fitzgerald sounds pretty set and making it a recurring theme in Evanston.