Northwestern Football Predictions 2020
Written by: Ben Pekay
Sept. 5 @ Michigan State- Loss
Sept. 12 Tulane- Win
Sept. 19 Central Michigan- Win
Sept. 26 @ Penn State- Loss
Oct. 3 Nebraska- Loss
Oct. 17 Maryland- Loss
Oct. 24 @ Iowa- Loss
Oct. 31 @ Purdue- Loss
Nov. 7 Wisconsin (at Wrigley Field)- Loss
Nov. 14 Morgan State- Win
Nov. 21 @ Minnesota- Loss
Nov. 28 Illinois- Loss
The 2020 Northwestern football season will be a repeat of the last year. In 2018, the Wildcats lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship 45-24 and beat Utah in the Holiday Bowl. They were looking to take a step forward in 2019 and maybe win the Big Ten Championship. They took a large step backward in 2019 and went 3-9. Last year, Northwestern was poor on offense. They scored 15 points or fewer seven times. They have Mike Bajakian replacing Mick McCall at offensive coordinator . Bajakian was Boston College’s offensive coordinator last year. Their starting quarterback will be Indiana transfer, Peyton Ramsey. Last year, Ramsey threw for 2,454 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will struggle because of the level of talent around him. Northwestern’s best wide receiver is Senior Riley Lees who had 430 yards and 2 touchdowns last year. They are very inexperienced at the wide receiver position otherwise. Northwestern returns 2018 leading rusher Isiah Bowser who had 866 yards and 7 scores in 2018, but was injured in 2019. He will carry most of the offensive load this year. The Northwestern defense will be okay this year. They finished 25th in the nation overall last year. They return Paddy Fisher who was on the Big Ten First team in 2018. Last year he had 88 tackles and in 2018 he had 116 tackles and 4 forced fumbles. He will continue his dominance this year. They are not very experienced besides Fisher and will struggle against teams in the Big Ten.
Northwestern opens up the season with Michigan State. This is a rebuilding year for Michigan State. Mark Dantonio stepped down over the summer and is being replaced by Mel Tucker. Michigan State loses starting Quarterback Brian Lewerke to the NFL. Replacing Lewerke is Rocky Lombardi. Michigan State returns Running Back Elijah Collins who ran for 988 yards last year and had 5 touchdowns. The Michigan State defense is very inexperienced. They lost 8 starters over the offseason. They return Linebacker Antjuam Simmons who had 90 tackles last year and 3.5 sacks. This game will be an old fashion Big Ten game. Both teams will rely on their running game. Michigan State will win this game because Lombardi will outplay Ramsey and Collins will be able to run on Northwestern. Tulane returns Quarterback Keon Howard who threw for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns last year as a backup and Running Back Corey Dauphine who threw for 575 yards and 7 touchdowns. They also return Safety Chase Kuerschen who had 76 yards and 2 interceptions last year. This Tulane team will compete against Northwestern but the Wildcats will prevail because of the level of talent on their team. After Tulane, Northwestern has Central Michigan. Central Michigan returns Wide Receiver Kalil Pimpleton who had 894 yards and 6 touchdowns last year and Quarterback David Moore who had 1,143 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. The Central Michigan defense will not be great this year. Northwestern will win this game because of the solid play of Bowser and the level of talent on their team.
Next up for Northwestern is Penn State. This is one of the most talented Penn State teams ever. They return starting Quarterback Sean Clifford who threw for 2,654 yards and 23 touchdowns and Tight End Pat Freiermuth who had 507 yards and 7 touchdowns last year and is an excellent pass blocker. On defense, they return Linebacker Micah Parsons who had 109 tackles and 5 sacks last year and is arguably one of the best linebackers in the country. Penn State will win this game because of the strong play of Clifford and the poor play of the Northwestern defense. Next up for Penn State is Nebraska. Nebraska returns Quarterback Adrian Martinez. Martinez had 1,956 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions last year. He will continue to have a problem with turnovers this year. Their best returning wide receiver is Wan’Dale Robinson who had 453 yards and 3 touchdowns last year. The Nebraska defense is weak. Their best player is Linebacker JoJo Domann who had 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year. Nebraska will win this game because Martinez will outplay Ramsey. Next up for Northwestern is Maryland. Maryland's starting quarterback will be either Taulia Tagovailoa or Josh Jackson. If Taulia’s waiver gets approved, he will probably be starting when they play Northwestern. Maryland has incoming 4-star recruit Rakim Jarrett who will make an immediate impact. Last year, they finished last in the Big Ten in total defense and no returning Terps defensive lineman had more than one sack. This game is a toss-up. I think Maryland will win this game because they will find their passing attack and win in a close game.
Next up for Northwestern is Iowa. Iowa’s Starting Quarterback will be Spencer Petras who was Nate Stanley’s backup last year. They have one of the most talented receiver groups they have had in a long time including Ihmir Smith-Matsette who had 722 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. On the defensive end, they lost 3 starters including Defensive End A.J. Epenesa who was drafted in the 2nd round by the Buffalo Bills. Replacing him will be Defensive End Chauncey Goldston who had 47 tackles last year and 3 sacks. He will have a bigger role on the team with Epenesa gone. Northwestern will lose this game because their defense won't be able to stop Iowa’s offense. Next up for Iowa is Purdue. Purdue has a very talented offense. They return starting Quarterback Jake Plummer who threw for 1,603 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. The strongest part of the team is their wide receivers. They have 2018 All-American Rondale Moore and 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the Year David Bell. On the defensive end, they are not as strong. Last year, the defense allowed 31 points per game and was second-to-last in the Big Ten in total defense. The best player on the defense is George Karlaftis who was second-team All-Big Ten in 2019 with 54 tackles and 7.5 sacks. This game is a toss-up. I think Purdue will win this game because Rondale Moore will make some big plays to help Purdue to win the game. Next up for Northwestern is Wisconsin. During the offseason, Jonathan Taylor, their star running back,went to the NFL. They return starting Quarterback Jack Coan who threw for 2,727 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. Their offense always has a strong running game but will struggle to throw the ball. On the defensive end, they return almost every player including Isaiahh Loudermilk who is poised for a breakout season. He had 24 tackles last year with 3 sacks. Wisconsin will win this game because of the level of talent on their team and the strength of Jack Coan.
Next up for Northwestern is FCS Morgan State. Morgan State went 3-9 last year. Northwestern will easily win this game because of the level of talent on their team. Next up for Northwestern is Minnesota. Minnesota is very talented on offense this year. They return Quarterback Tanner Morgan who threw for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and Rashod Bateman who was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year last year. On defense, they lost All-American safety Antonie Winfield Jr. to the NFL draft. They return Defensive Back Jordan Howard who had 57 total tackles last year with 6 pass deflections. Minnesota will win this game because of their level of talent on their offense and the big plays from Bateman. In the final game of the season, Northwestern plays rival Illinois. Illinois returns its starting quarterback, Brandon Peters, who threw for 1,884 yards and 18 touchdowns, and its best wide receiver, Josh Imatorbhebhe, who caught 9 touchdowns and had a total of 634 yards last year. On the defense, they return Linebacker Jake Hansen who had 72 tackles last year and 7 forced fumbles. Illinois will win this game because Peters will outplay Ramsey and the Illinois defense is better than the Northwestern defense.
The 2020 Northwestern football season will be just like 2019. They have an unreliable defense and will struggle to produce offense. If Peyton Ramsey can carry over his solid play from Indiana, Northwestern could have the potential for the 2020 season. Northwestern will end the season with a 3-9 record and will miss a bowl game for the 2nd consecutive year.