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Northwestern included in several Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings for 2019

The Wildcats get a little love after a Holiday Bowl win.

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NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Northwestern vs Utah Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The season-end AP Top 25 dropped on Tuesday morning, placing a 9-5 Northwestern team at No. 21. According to Matt Brown of The Athletic, NU’s inclusion in the Top 25 marked only the third time in program history where the Wildcats have finished in the Top 25 in back-to-back seasons (1940-41 and 1995-96).

The final AP Top 25’s release also means it’s #WayTooEarlySZN, as pundits dish out their piping hot 2019 college football takes nine months away from kickoff. Here’s where the experts have Northwestern:

Stewart Mandel, The Athletic:

Mandel, a NU grad, slotted the Wildcats in at the No. 19 spot, one spot ahead of Utah and two spots ahead of Penn State. The only Big Ten teams ahead of NU, according to Mandel, are Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa.

Mark Schlabach, ESPN:

Schlabach placed NU at No. 19 as well, just behind Utah and Penn State. Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State are the three Big Ten teams ahead of NU in Schlabach’s poll. Looks like NU is winning the Big Ten West, everyone.

Scooby Axson, Sports Illustrated:

Scooby (awesome name) has NU at No. 20 amongst a host of Big Ten teams. He slotted Iowa and Wisconsin ahead of the Wildcats.

Chris Hummer,

Northwestern is on the outside looking in according to Hummer. He’s bullish on Penn State (No. 10) and Wisconsin (No. 15), and he includes Nebraska and Purdue in the “Just Missed” category. In the Iowa description, Hummer writes “Nebraska and Purdue are rising in the Big Ten West, but Wisconsin and Iowa are the teams to beat until further notice.” No love.

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports:

You don’t have to scroll too far to find Northwestern at No. 24 in Lassan’s rankings. He ranks Big Ten West opponents Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska (!) ahead of the Wildcats.

Alex Kirshner, SBNation:

Buoyed by Bill Connelly’s S&P+ stats, the mothership is usually pretty bearish on the Wildcats, but Kirshner has the Wildcats slotted in at No. 23. Nebraska is the only other Big Ten West team in the rankings, at No, 25.

Bill Bender, Sporting News:

Northwestern slots in at No. 24, just ahead of ... Minnesota? Row the damn boat. Wisconsin is two spots ahead of the Wildcats, and Week One opponent Stanford is No. 21. There is no Io_a to be found.

Yahoo Sports:

The Yahoo Sports staff picked NU at No. 23, three spots behind Iowa and seven spots behind Wisconsin.