While it might not be the amount of respect Pat Fitzgerald and his team think they’ve earned, the ‘Cats are gaining more national recognition.
Following their defensively dominant win over No. 10 Wisconsin (2-1) on Saturday, Northwestern (5-0) rose from 19 to 11 in the AP Top-25 rankings, their highest rank since the 1996 season when they entered the Citrus Bowl vs. the Tennessee Volunteers ranked 11th.
In the coaches’ poll, Northwestern came in to the Wisconsin match at No. 20 and only rose to 13, somehow ranked behind fellow Big Ten surprise team Indiana, who fought admirably against Ohio State (4-0) but ultimately dropped to 4-1 on the season. Northwestern and Ohio State are the only remaining unbeaten teams in the Big Ten.
As for the Badgers, they fell to 18th in the AP poll, while the Hoosiers are one spot behind the ‘Cats in the rankings. Ohio State slotted third in both the Coaches’ and the AP polls. No other team in the conference is ranked, with Iowa (3-2) being the only other to receive votes.
The College Football Playoff Committee is set to release their first set of playoff rankings this Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN. Northwestern’s last CFP Top-25 ranking came in 2018, and their highest ranking in the CFP to date was No. 13 in Week 14 of the 2015 season.