The Northwestern Wildcats are usually a scrappy bunch of guys, led by head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Over-achievers by nature, the ‘Cats won their final eight games in 2017, finishing the season 10-3, and proving they can compete with Wisconsin in the Big Ten West.
The Michigan Wolverines will have to travel to Northwestern in late September, and this road game will be no gimme, U-M will have to earn their victory.
With that in mind, here are four players to watch
RB Jeremy Larkin
Larkin could do some serious damage for Northwestern in 2018. As a backup in 2017 he made the most of his opportunities, rushing for 503 yards while only carrying the ball 84 times. This year Larkin will be the starter and he should stay in on most passing downs as well, he is a well rounded athlete who can haul in receptions as well. Larkin is a patient runner with above average speed and power.
QB Clayton Thorson
Thorson is the definition of a mixed bag. Sometimes he looks as dangerous as any quarterback in the nation, getting rid of the ball quickly and with authority. Then there are times you gasp and go “what is he doing?!”. On the last drive against Wisconsin in 2017, Northwestern still had a shot to drive down the field, Northwestern’s chance of a win ended with Thorson running around in the end-zone like his head was cut off, taking an unnecessary safety.
Thorson threw two interceptions in five games last season, not exactly a stat you want to keep duplicating. With that said, the senior has been a starter since his freshman season and on any given Saturday he can figure things out enough to put his team in a position to win.
While Thorson isn’t exactly the fastest quarterback, he has racked up 18 rushing touchdowns in his career, and that’s certainly something to look out for.
DE Joe Gaziano
Gaziano is a player who performs well against the top competition in the Big Ten and he can really disrupt a backfield. In 2017 Gaziano tallied 9 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.
Watch Gaziano annihilate Brian Lewerke below
LB Paddy Fisher
Fisher was everywhere last season. He recorded 113 tackles (65 solo), 4 forced fumbles, and 9 tackles for loss. Fisher can really limit the effectiveness of a rushing attack, he loves to fly down field.