Chicago Sun-Times
with Tina Akouris

Storylines to watch during Wildcats bowl prep

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Texas A&M is located about 90 miles or so from Reliant Stadium in Houston. So when Northwestern plays in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Dec. 31, it won't feel like a neutral site. It's going to feel like an Aggies home game. Kind of like what happened last year at the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas when the Wildcats faced Texas Tech.

"It's going to be a road game for us," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

The Wilcats are going to be facing an Aggies team that has been through the drama of a coach's firing in Mike Sherman, who was let go last week after the Aggies finished the regular season 6-6. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has taken over as an interim coach.

Those storylines aside, here's a few more nuggets that came out of the NU press conference Sunday night:

* The Wildcats have five Houston natives on their roster in cornerback Demetrius Dugar, defensive lineman Will Hampton, receiver Christian Jones, kick returner Venric Mark and linebacker David Nwabuisi.

Did those ties to Houston and the Wildcats' strong fan base in the area help put the Wildcats' over the top in the eyes of bowl executive director Heather Houston?

"I hope so," Fitzgerald said. "I think the brand of football that we play is pretty entertaining and we've been pretty salty in bowl games. We haven't won, but we've been pretty entertaining, to say the least." 

* Considering that bowl projections had the Wildcats going anywhere from Detroit's Little Caesar's Bowl to a non-Big Ten bowl as an at-large team, atheltic director Jim Phillips deserves high praise for getting the Wildcats in at Meineke. NU leaped ahead of Penn State, Purdue and Illinois in the Big Ten pecking order for bowl bids.

* "We're four practices in and we're not very pleased with the way we played this year and I think I made that crystal clear after the Michigan State game [a 31-17 Wildcat loss]," Fitzgerald said. "We're going to get some things fixed and we're going to get some guys playing more consistently or they're not going to play.

"I'm tired of sitting here and talking to you [the media] guys after games when we don't play and coach the way we are capable of. The only way to get those things fixed is through consistent execution and effort and practice."


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This page contains a single entry by Tina Akouris published on December 5, 2011 5:35 PM.

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