Jul 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Northwestern Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks during the Big Ten media day at the Chicago Hilton. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern Football Ranked No. 22 in USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll


Northwestern finished their 2012-2013 campaign with a 10-3 record and a 34-20 Gator Bowl victory over in Mississippi State, the Wildcats are ranked No. 22 in the USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll, released on Thursday.

Northwestern returns 18 starters (eight offense, seven defense, three special teams) from last year’s squad, including Maxwell (nation’s best college football player) and Doak Walker (nation’s top running back) candidate Venric Mark.

Last season Mark was a second-team All-Big Ten selection at running back for recording 1,366 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. He was also named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and the 2012 season Northwestern Offensive MVP. His all-purpose yard total (2,137) was short by 29 yards of setting the school record in a season, he did rank No. 1 in the Big Ten with 166.6 all-purpose yards per game.

Northwestern is among five Big Ten schools named to the preseason poll and two Legends Division foes: Ohio State (No. 2), Michigan (No. 17), Nebraska (No. 18), and Wisconsin (No. 23).

Northwestern will begin its first practice for the 2013-2014 campaign on Monday, Aug. 5 at 4 p.m. Wildcats’ head coach Pat Fitzgerald will start his eighth season on the road at Cal before making their home debut at Ryan Field against Syracuse on Saturday, Sept. 7.

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Tags: Football Northwestern Northwestern Football USA Today/Coaches Preseason Poll