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

NU Vs California: Five Things To Watch For In The Wildcats' Season Opener

The college football season is here. The first college football games of the 2013-2014 season will be played on Thursday.

For the Northwestern Wildcats, their season begins against California on Saturday.

This is a highly anticipated season for the Wildcats after the college won their first bowl game since 1949.

The Wildcats enter this season  ranked 22nd in the first AP poll.

The goal for the Wildcats this season is to make the Big Ten title game, however facing a tougher schedule this season, that will be no easy task for Northwestern.

For the Wildcats, it starts on Saturday against California. Here are five things to watch for in their season opener.

  1. Style Points. Until there is a playoff system, there will always be a need for style points from a ranked college football team. Ranked teams need to defeat the teams that they are expected to defeat and look good in the process. That will be the case for Northwestern on Saturday. Cal was 3-9 last season and should provide the Wildcats with an impressive season-opening victory.
  2. Line Play. The two areas of concern for the Wildcats this season will be the offensive line and defensive line. Two players to watch on the offensive line are Shane Mertz and Ian Park, both of whom received extra work on the offensive line during Spring practices. With Brian Arnfelt no longer in the picture, the contributions from veteran defensive linemen on Northwestern need to improve.
  3. Heisman Campaign. Senior running back Venric Mark burst onto the scene for the Wildcats in 2012. Venric’s All-American 2012 season put the running back on many offensive award watch lists to begin the season. In his farewell season for the Wildcats, Mark is expected to have a special season. One that may make him a Heisman candidate by the end of the season. The campaign begins this Saturday for Mark.
  4. Two QB System. The two quarterback system worked out well for the Wildcats last season. Northwesten will implement the same strategy this season. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemmian will split time at the Wildcats’ quarterback position this season. There have been doubters of this type of system from the Wildcats, but as the saying goes, there is no need to fix what isn’t broken.
  5. Avoid being that team. The opening weekend of the college football season always brings a plethora of upsets. Similar to how Northwestern needs to have style points on Saturday, the Wildcats also need to avoid being that team on Saturday. That team that is not ready to play a team that is widely believed to be inferior to them.

Tags: California Golden Bears Northwestern Wildcats

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