Northwestern Wildcats

About Northwestern Wildcats

The Northwestern Wildcats football team was first established in 1876, although did not start to compete in the intercollegiate game until 1882. Despite having higher academic standards than many other colleges, they have still achieved success and the program has produced some talented players. Their main rivals are the Illinois Fighting Illini, the Purdue Boilermakers, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes. Illinois are their most natural rivals and the two teams compete for the Land of Lincoln Trophy.

Northwestern were a founding member of the Big Ten Conference when it was first established in 1896 and have remained in the league ever since. The team's nickname is derived from a remark made by a writer, Wallace Abbey, in 1924. Abbey compared the Northwestern players who played in a game against Chicago to a "wall of purple wildcats."

In the first half of the 20th century, Northwestern won five Conference Championships, with those wins coming in 1903, 1926, 1930, 1931 and 1936. During Pappy Waldorf's spell as head coach, in 1936, they achieved their first #1 ranking; a feat they later repeated in 1962. In the following decades, success was less frequent until a return to prominence in the mid 1990s. Since 1995, the team has won three further Big Ten Conference Titles, with the wins coming in 1995, 1996 and 2000. The Wildcats have competed in a total of eleven bowl games, although they have a 2-9 record in them.

A number of former Northwestern players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, such as Otto Graham, Pat Fitzgerald, Ralph Baker and Ron Burton. Other notable alumni include Mike Kafka, Steve Tasker, Chris Hinton and Jason Wright.


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