After this week's 48-27 win over Syracuse, Northwestern continued its trek up the polls, landing at 16th in the Coaches Poll and 17th in the AP Poll. That's up two spots in the AP and four in the Coaches. In the AP Poll, the Wildcats jumped Florida, Notre Dame and Texas — that's some good company, huh? — and were jumped by Miami (FL), which beat the Gators this week. In the Coaches Poll, they jumped the same three teams, plus UCLA, while staying ahead of Miami.
The Wildcats are the third-ranked Big Ten team in the AP Poll, behind Ohio State (4) and Michigan (11). They're also ahead of Wisconsin (20) and Nebraska (23). In the Coaches Poll, they come in behind Ohio State (3), Michigan (12) and Nebraska (15), and ahead of Wisconsin (18).
Overall, there isn't much to argue with. We've only seen a small sample size so far — most of these teams have only played cupcake opponents — so we'll learn more once conference play starts. Among Big Ten teams, Nebraska seems a little bit high at 15th in the Coaches Poll, while Michigan has been awfully impressive and probably deserves some top 10 consideration.
This poll also means it's likely that NU will be ranked in the top 15 when Ohio State comes to Evanston on October 5. Someone ahead of the Wildcats will likely lose and fall behind them, and their next two opponents are, well, not all that high-quality. Western Michigan — next week's opponent — just lost to Nicholls State, an FCS team that hadn't beaten a non-NAIA team since 2010. The final "test" before Ohio State is Maine, an FCS team. As long as Ohio State can take care of business — including games at Cal and at home against Wisconsin — Evanston is looking more and more likely as a host for ESPN's College Gameday.