The Wildcat Way
On this week's edition of Breaking the Huddle, FOX Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt welcomed in Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald to discuss the Wildcats' impressive start, and also broke down his top 10.
(All odds provided by FOX Bet).
Northwestern is 3-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since the year 2000, the last time the school won the conference championship. And Fitzgerald credits the entire program – players, coaches, and staff – for the early success.
"Our guys are incredibly disciplined. We've just approached it with the mindset that we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity to play ... and hopefully demonstrate that on the field with great passion."
Fitzgerald went on to discuss the team's values and how simply playing hard is an important aspect of Wildcat culture.
"We define it as playing 'the Wildcat way.'"
Northwestern has also benefitted from the addition of new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian, as well as transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey, and the two worked tirelessly to develop a chemistry in the offseason.
"They [Bajakian and Ramsey] spent a lot of time through COVID-19 on Zoom making sure they were all on the same page."
Still, despite the clear improvements and unblemished record to start the season, Fitzgerald believes Northwestern has work to do.
"Man, we can be a lot better, play a lot cleaner in all three phases, and that's what we're working diligently to do right now."
Beyond Northwestern, let's find out who is impressing Klatt this season with his latest top 10.
At No. 10 sits Indiana, which is 3-0 with wins against Penn State and Michigan for the first time in program history.
Coming soon, they have a tough test against No. 2 Ohio State.
"Congratulations, Indiana. They are playing so well ... They are going to have Ohio State next week on Big Noon Saturday, so no look-aheads, Indiana."
If the Hoosiers can go on the road and take care of business at Michigan State, they will enter their showdown with Justin Fields and OSU undefeated.
Fields leads the Big Ten in passing yards (908), touchdowns (11) and ranks second in passer rating (222.4), while Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. is not far behind, sitting at sixth in passing yards (750), third in touchdowns (7), and seventh in quarterback rating (134.0).
Speaking of high-caliber quarterbacks, No. 6 is Florida, and that's largely due to the play of Kyle Trask.
"That offense [Florida's] was just too much for Georgia to handle, and Kyle Trask is playing at an elite level."
Trask tossed for 474 yards and four touchdowns against the Bulldogs, as he continued his record-breaking season.
Trask’s 474 passing yards is the second-highest total in a single-game in school history and just eight yards behind Tim Tebow’s record 482 yards in the 2010 Sugar Bowl.
However, Klatt still has the Bulldogs at No. 9 despite the loss.
"I kept them in the top 10. They are insanely talented and are a quarterback away from being a national championship contender."
Against the Gators, Georgia's two quarterbacks – Stetson Bennett and D'Wan Mathis – combined for just 112 passing yards, while tossing three interceptions.
Speaking of team's with losses, former No. 1 Clemson – now No. 4 – suffered a double-overtime defeat to new No. 3 Notre Dame. Clemson was without a few key players, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence, which is why the Tigers are still in the running.
But the Fighting Irish have a leg up in the race to a national championship.
"I do give Notre Dame a ton of credit ... and now they are in the drivers seat for a college football appearance."
If you missed this week's episode of Breaking the Huddle, check it out in its entirety below!
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