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The comprehensive 2020 Northwestern football season preview

Here’s everything you may have missed.

Believe it or not, tomorrow begins the first game week for the 2020 Northwestern football season!

It’s been a rollercoaster of an offseason, but after multiple attempts, we’ve finally made it through our preseason content, breaking down every player, position and major question for the Wildcats in 2020.

Since our normal preseason build up took a little longer this year with some interruptions throughout, here is a brief reminder of everything you need to know for NU’s shortened, conference-only season that begins on Saturday.

We kicked off the summer in June previewing each position group, identifying key players in each room and answering the biggest questions on the offensive, defensive and special teams units. Then, each of our staffers weighed in on which position group they believed was the strongest and which was the weakest. Finally, we broke down the top offensive and defensive position group battles as the ‘Cats fought for playing time through camp.

Next, each staff member ranked their top 10 most important players and difference-makers on Northwestern’s roster this year. Based on the staff rankings, we compiled a composite ranking for the site and proceeded to break down each player’s game from Earnest Brown IV at No. 10 to whoever starts under center at No. 1.

As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on college football became more pressing, we had our staff share what they believed would be the biggest concern for Northwestern football this season. While some agreed the pandemic was the greatest threat to Northwestern’s success, others feared we could see a repeat of 2019 in NU’s offense or that injuries could be the Wildcats’ downfall.

While there are always reasons to be pessimistic, there’s a lot to look forward to this season including the hope that comes along with new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian. To better acquaint NU fans with the Bajakian-style offense, Inside NU’s resident film expert Daniel Olinger broke down what changes to expect in NU’s offense this year under the new OC.

Then, we began our 10-article series counting down Northwestern’s roster from 99 to 0 to preview every single Wildcat from Earnest Brown IV to graduate transfer TE John Raine. Now, in addition to Northwestern’s top 10 most important players, we provided background on every player on the roster.

For our last preview series before Big Ten football shut down, we began unpacking the five biggest questions facing Northwestern football this season. We discussed the pressing questions facing Northwestern’s receivers, defense and quarterbacks and were set to answer the most important question of how COVID-19 will impact the season. However, the Big Ten’s postponement came right before we could complete the series, but it isn’t unreasonable to say the coronavirus will remain the biggest question and concern throughout NU’s season.

We then took a break from the preseason content as the Big Ten debated whether or not it would play a season this fall. Once football was ultimately reinstated and the third edition of Northwestern’s 2020 schedule was released, we picked up where we left off and released our winnability rankings for each of Northwestern’s games. Each staffer provided their picks, which were compiled into a composite ranking and then further explained in a roundtable.

Then for the second time this year we began previewing every opponent on Northwestern’s schedule for the Know Your Opponent series. From Maryland to Illinois, we discussed each team’s performance in 2019, their offensive and defensive outlook in 2020 and big names to look out for when they take on the ‘Cats.

With the season soon approaching, we began to wrap up our “summer” content with two roundtables, one defining what success looks like this season and the other discussing who will be the breakout player in 2020. According to our writers, limiting COVID numbers and winning five games should be the goals this year, and many of the receivers, including sophomore Malik Washington, will likely standout.

Thank you for following along and reading our content throughout this crazy offseason. We hope we were able to shed some light on what to expect this fall despite the chaos. Keep checking back with us throughout the season for more in-depth content and analysis of the Wildcats!

This article will be updated throughout the week as we finish our preview coverage.