Pat Fitzgerald and the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats shocked the college football world on Saturday. The Big Ten West team upset No. 10 Wisconsin 17-7, clearing a path to a division championship.
Northwestern did so behind a stout defensive effort, complete with five forced turnovers. A hungry pass-rush and two more interceptions from redshirt-freshman safety Brandon Joseph shut down Graham Mertz and the Badgers offense. Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey did just enough on offense to scrape out the win, throwing for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The win was Northwestern’s first over a top-10 opponent since 2011.
The win comes after ESPN analyst Joey Galloway dismissed the Wildcats as serious Big Ten contenders earlier in the week. When previewing Saturday’s game against Wisconsin, the former Ohio State wide receiver called Northwestern players “a bunch of Rece Davis’s” running around on the field.
Fitzgerald and the Wildcats said they took the comment personally amidst the national media coverage this week. The Northwestern head coach felt insulted enough to jab back at Galloway after Saturday’s win.
“Not bad for a bunch of @ReceDavis’, eh @Joey_Galloway?” Fitzgerald tweeted.
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) November 22, 2020
Well played, Fitz.
With the win, Northwestern claims sole possession of the Big Ten’s West division at 5-0. The Wildcats need to win just two of their three remaining games to clinch a spot in the conference championship game on Dec. 19. For Fitzgerald, those three contests come against Michigan State, Minnesota and Illinois.
Most college football fans will still find it hard to believe that Northwestern can challenge Ohio State for a conference championship. However, behind defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz, the Wildcats boast one of the country’s best defenses capable of hanging with Justin Fields and the Buckeyes. If Northwestern can somehow sneak by Ohio State, they might find themselves in the College Football Playoff.
For now, Fitzgerald and the “Rece Davis’s” will celebrate this week’s win in Evanston.