Northwestern had a pretty successful 2012 season with a 10-3 record. Vegas has the over/under in 2013 set at 9.5, so let's take a look at the schedule and see what's happening.
8/31 @ Cal: Cal wasn't good. Tedford got fired. Sonny Dykes got hired. Youth and potential are probably the two words that best describe the Cal Bears, and that youth will more than likely be exploited by Northwestern. With two freshmen (Jared Goff and Zach Kline) competing for the Cal starting QB position, and a new head coach, this looks like a victory for the Wildcats.
9/7 Syracuse: Saturday, Saturday, Saturday! Journalists everywhere will come to write and broadcast their hearts out as Medill takes on Newhouse to see who will come out on top as the best journalism program in the country. Medill vs. Newhouse! Be there,
and or be square! Oh, and there's a football game, too. Week number two, and another coach in his first year with the program. It could be a tough outing for Otto the Orange.
9/14 Western Michigan: Northwestern is very lucky that this game is at home, because if this was played in Kalamazoo...well, the Wildcats would still win, but at least they can destroy a team without needing to hop across the big lake. Yet another week facing a first-year coach bodes well for a 3-0 start for Northwestern.
9/21 Maine: In case you didn't know, Maine plays in the CAA. They finished in 7th place last year, which wasn't last place. Do you know how many teams are in the CAA? Eleven. Hmm, interesting. Notable alumni include Stephen King and Harold Beverage. Everyone knows about Stephen King, but did you know that Harold Beverage invented drinking? I'm pretty sure that's accurate. Their hats with the black bear on it look kinda cool, so I bought one. I really like it. This is all to distract you from the fact that they will lose this game, and there really isn't anything interesting to say about the football team.
10/5 Ohio State: John Tortorella and Gary Thorne also went to Maine, and...oh, crap! Sorry about that. Maine just has some interesting alumni. Um, so...Ohio State; well, (SPOILER ALERT) Urb's going to be doing just fine in the B1G this year, and will not have any problems beating the Wildcats.
10/12 @ Wisconsin: Here's where things get really, well, real. As I stated in Wisconsin's schedule post, the Badgers have issues with Northwestern. This may or may not be a win for the guys in purple, but this one is going to be very entertaining. Watch for a turnover at the end of the game to decide this one. With this game Northwestern also starts a four-game stretch of what is the soon-to-be Corn-Fed Division in the B1G.
10/19 Minnesota: Poor, poor Goldy. Sorry to say that this one won't go in your favor. However, with Kill in his third year and things looking up for the Gophers, this could be as entertaining at the Wisconsin game the previous week. The big question for Minnesota is probably their receiving corps.
10/26 @ Iowa: Iowa OC Greg Davis will be in his second year. Although he had some great success with the Texas Longhorns, none of the QBs in Iowa City are named Colt McCoy or Vince Young.
11/2 @ Nebraska: Here was yet another close game in 2012. The rushing game was fairly evenly matched: Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah ran for 101 yards, but no touchdowns, while NW's Venric Mark had 118 yards and one TD. The difference in this game was Taylor Martinez, who threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns. With Kain Colter, Trevor Siemian, and Venric Mark returning, look for another good game in 2013.
11/16 Michigan: Michigan's coming off of consecutive wins against Northwestern in '11 and '12 after the record-setting horror that was the 2008 game. Fitz is very good at what he does, and he will have the Cats actually competing in games for as long as he's in Evanston. Although I doubt that Northwestern is going to turn into the dominant team in this series, Fitzgerald will definitely make things more competitive. It is entirely possible that Northwestern could win this, but the Wolverines will win on the road.
11/23 Michigan State: Sparty goin' down! Woo! This was a close game in E.L. last year. Although State has a pretty stout defense, and NW probably got lucky, I have a feeling that they'll be able to win this one at home. It's just a feeling, though, and my feelings are usually what prevent me from gambling.
11/30 @ Illinois: Should I go with my usual, "I will laugh my ass off if..."? No, I won't beat that dead
The Wildcats will finish no worse than 8-4 in 2013. The two toss-up games are going to be Wisconsin and Nebraska, which means that another 10-win season is absolutely within reach, and perhaps even likely. Fitzgerald's 50 wins have made him the winningest coach in Northwestern history. Add the fact that he and his staff are doing a fantastic job on the recruiting trail as well, and there's no reason why he shouldn't be proclaimed Emperor Pat I Porphyrogenitus of Evanston. It may be only a matter of time before he has a strong claim to the throne of the B1G as well.