As Spring football season is in full swing around the Big 10, we're going to go around to each team in the conference and check in to see where the programs are at in the offseason. For each team, we'll provide a Spring Football primer that contains some of the pertinent information for each team including looking back at 2010 and looking forward to the the 2011 season. Today we check in with the Northwestern Widcats. Can Northwestern and Dan Persa match their impressive performances more consistently in 2011? Let's check Northwestern's Starting 11...
1) 2010 Record: 7-6, (3-5, T-7 Big Ten)
2) Bowl Result: Loss 45-38 vs Texas Tech in TicketCity Bowl. Northwestern fought gamely without Dan Persa, but fell just short in the Cotton Bowl, the stadium not the bowl game, that's being played in Cowboys Stadium. Makes sense, right? Anyways, it was NU's 8th straight bowl defeat, continuing their winless streak that dates back to 1949.
3) 4 Year Average: 7.5 Wins, 5.25 Losses overall. 4 Wins, 4 Losses in Big Ten play
4) Best Win: Nov 13, 21-13 Win vs #13 Iowa
5) Worst Loss: Nov 20, 48-27 Loss vs Illinois at Wrigley Field
6) 2010 Season Headline: A season ending achilles injury to star QB Dan Persa dampered what was a bright season for Northwestern. Even with Persa's injury late in the year, the Cardiac Cats made it to their second straight New Year's Day bowl game under Pat Fitzgerald.
7) 2010 MVP: Dan Persa, QB - Persa was named First Team B1G by the coaches even though he missed the last three games of the season, suffering a torn achilles late in the upset win over Iowa. NU was 7-3 with Persa and 0-3 without him. Persa's 75.3% completion percentage was best in the nation and best in Big Ten history. Perhaps no player outside Denard Robinson was more valuable to his team's success than Persa.
8) Key Losses: WR Sidney Stewart, DT Corbin Bryant, LB Nate Williams, not much else - NU returns 16 of 22 starters on both sides of the ball and may barely sneak a player into the NFL Draft
9) Key Returners: Persa, RB Mike Trumpy, TE Drake Dunsmore, DB Brian Peters
10) 2011 Recruiting Rankings: Rivals - #11 Big Ten, 17 commits, 2.88 stars average score.
11) Big Question For 2011: How far can Dan Persa take Northwestern?
-Assuming Persa completely recovers from his achilles injury, Northwestern will go as far as his talented arm and feet can take them. When healthy, he accounted for over 75% of the total offense for the Wildcats! There are questions with every team in the Legends Division this year, so why not the Wildcats? Northwestern can contend for a division title in the first year of the B1G's realignment, but they have to travel on the road to Iowa and Nebraska. Persa has a special leadership quality about him and can seemingly will Northwestern to victory at times. If NU can stabilize on defense and provide a little offensive balance in the running game, they have a great chance to be the first ever Legends division champs.