Football: Northwestern looks forward after losing bowl eligibility


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Quarterback Kain Colter walks off the field early in the first quarter against Michigan State. The senior didn’t return to the game. On Monday coach Pat Fitzgerald said Colter is day-to-day as the Wildcats look to play Illinois this weekend.

John Paschall, Assistant Gameday Editor

With bowl eligibility out the window, Northwestern will treat its matchup with Illinois on Saturday as a bowl game of sorts. Coach Pat Fitzgerald and the rest of his team want to send the seniors out with a bang in Champaign, Ill., against their in-state rivals.

“You can throw the records out in all these games,” Fitzgerald said at a news conference Monday. “It’s arguably the best weekend in sports. It’s a really fun week of college football.”

Offensive coordinator Mick McCall has received criticism for his play calling in recent weeks. But Fitzgerald, who said he fully expects all of his coaches back next year, stuck by his guy and praised not only McCall but also the whole staff.

“I don’t think there’s a staff that’s done a better job in the country keeping a team together through what we’ve been through,” Fitzgerald said. “Collectively as a group, they’ve won a lot of football games. I’ve got 100 percent confidence in our staff.”

For the first time in a long time, the Wildcats won’t be practicing for a bowl game in December. Fitzgerald said he’s not going to enjoy the vacation — except for family time — but will use it to prepare the team for competition in the offseason.

“When we get back going here in January, we have to get back to what’s been our staple,” Fitzgerald said. “It allows guys to go out there and learn and realize what it means to be their best and trust themselves to play at that level when none of the fans are around. I believe we’ve got a really good plan set for the offseason about how we are going to go about our business.”


  • Senior quarterback Kain Colter is listed as day-to-day heading into this week’s game against Illinois. Fitzgerald said he doesn’t think Colter will practice Tuesday and will make another assessment of the injury on Wednesday. “After taking a hit like that, he’s pretty sore, pretty banged up,” Fitzgerald said.
  • Fitzgerald said he will hit the recruiting trail hard after the game this weekend. NU is targeting four-star Bolingbrook, Ill., defensive back Parrker Westphal, who named NU in his top three recently, along with Michigan State and Vanderbilt.
  • Fitzgerald said he will look into the more “macro” decisions after the season, like scheme and what the team studies week-to-week.
  • Freshman quarterback Matt Alviti, who redshirted this year, will be in the running to start in 2014 depending on how well he performs in spring ball. Fitzgerald said he’s been impressed with his true freshman but knows it’s much different for a quarterback during a game compared to playing on the scout team.

— John Paschall