The case for
The Wildcats' plan of attack remains the same as it was in 2012, when they went 10--3: Pound teams with a multifaceted ground game and make big plays on special teams. Northwestern presents a true dual threat at quarterback. Senior run-pass athlete Kain Colter starts, but he'll share time with junior Trevor Siemian, who's more of a pure passer. The two QBs and the breakaway speed of senior running back Venric Mark will allow coordinator Mick McCall to switch tactics and surprise opposing defenses. In addition, last year's starting receivers (junior Christian Jones and senior Rashad Lawrence) return, along with one of the nation's best kickers in senior Jeff Budzien. Then there's Pat Fitzgerald, a player's coach who understands the challenge since he played in Evanston in the 1990s. The 'Cats trailed for a grand total of 4:45 last year. Expect them to hold lots of leads again.
The case against
The secondary didn't surrender too many big plays last season, but it gave up a costly one at Michigan: a 53-yard pass at the end of regulation that set up a 38--31 OT loss. Three of the four starters return, but if they have not improved it will lead to more late-game difficulties for Northwestern.
Has this program reached the point where fans can expect seven to 10 wins every year?
It better have, or I'm going to lose my job. And it better not be seven, or I'm not going to be in a very good humor.