Michigan-Northwestern Football

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.

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Ratings power

3 stars. It's never flashy with Northwestern, and the way that offense has played in recent years has made it downright ugly. While games between these two teams are always close, nobody is exactly clamoring to see the matchup in prime time.

Sneak peek

Northwestern-Nebraska games are almost always close. This one will probably be that way, too. Nebraska won last year's game 13-10 in Lincoln. But the Huskers should expect the Wildcats to be much better offensively this season. They hired a new offensive coordinator, Mike Bajakian, who takes over a unit that last season averaged -- get this -- 4.5 yards per pass attempt. That ranked last nationally. 

Ah, but 14th-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald welcomes graduate transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who threw for 351 yards for Indiana in its 38-31 win in Lincoln last season. As for the Wildcat defense, it'll be ornery as ever, led by two-time All-Big Ten selection Paddy Fisher. 

Plot twist

Northwestern's offense will indeed be improved, in part because of the return of running back Isaiah Bowser. He logged only 59 carries last season because of injuries, but he'll be a bear on this day. Yep, it'll be yet another close game, but much more high scoring than last season. 

The main cast

QB Ramsey. Northwestern's offense has been in dire need of new blood for years, and the Wildcats get that with the graduate transfer. Ramsey threw for nearly 2,500 yards last season with the Hoosiers, which was 1,100 more than the four guys who played QB for Northwestern last season combined.

LB Fisher. One of those guys who feels like he's been around forever. Fisher is an All-American candidate who is almost automatic for 100 tackles in a season.

RB Bowser. After bursting onto the scene in 2018, Bowser was limited to 59 carries because of injury last season. A healthy outlook and a new scheme could help him find his old production.

Schedule

O24, Maryland; O31, at Iowa; N7, Nebraska; N14, at Purdue; N21, Wisconsin; N28, at Michigan State; D5, at Minnesota; D12, Illinois.

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Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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