Northwestern has finally made its way into the preseason rankings.
Pat Fitzgerald’s team stole the final spot in the annual USA TODAY coaches preseason poll that was released early Thursday. Here are the full rankings:
Coaches preseason poll:— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 1, 2019
5 Ohio St
9 Notre Dame
11 Texas A&M
14 Penn St
20 Mich St
21 Wash St
24 Iowa St
The Wildcats received 161 votes and cracked the preseason top 25 for the first time since 2013. NU had finished the 2018 season ranked No. 19 in the coaches poll after a thrilling Holiday Bowl victory.
Northwestern is one of an impressive seven Big Ten teams to earn a ranking, joining Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State. Sorry Huskers! Nebraska just missed out, receiving 152 votes (only good for 26th).
Stanford also slotted in at No. 23, meaning the first game of the season in Palo Alto will be one of just three Top 25 matchups during College Football’s opening weekend.
As mentioned above, it will also mark the first time in the history of the polls that the Wildcats begin the season both ranked and playing a ranked opponent. It’s only the second time they have even gone up against a squad that reached the polls in their opener since 1995, with the other such occurrence also featuring Stanford (in 2015).
Wisconsin, Io_a, Michigan State, and even Utah managed to crack the top 20, giving Northwestern a whopping four 2018 wins over currently-ranked foes. The Wildcats will face off against five teams within this poll over the course of the season, highlighted, of course, by No. 5 Ohio State.