Three weeks into the Big Ten football season, Northwestern has cracked the rankings. In the latest release of the AP Top 25 poll, the Wildcats were ranked 23rd while they slotted in at the same spot in the Coaches Poll. Last week they received the most votes of any non-ranked team in the AP Poll, essentially ranking them 26th.
With a 21-13 win over Nebraska on Saturday, NU started the season 3-0 in conference for the first time since 2000. The last time the ‘Cats started 3-0 overall was 2015, when they won their first five games.
It’s been tough to get a read on the Big Ten thus far, with Blue Blood teams falling and lots of parity. Northwestern’s 43-3 drubbing of Maryland now looks much stronger with the Terps’ wins over Minnesota and Penn State, teams that were expected to vie for their respective divisions.
While NU’s offense has shown itself to be serviceable, the team has been led by its defense, which has given up an average of 12 points per game and has allowed zero points in the second half through three games. Furthermore, it hasn’t given up a touchdown drive longer than 45 yards.
The Wildcats take on Purdue (2-0) Saturday in primetime in a critical West division matchup.