|2018 Northwestern Wildcats football|
Big Ten West Division champion
Holiday Bowl champion
|Conference||Big Ten Conference|
|2018 record||9–5 (8–1 Big Ten)|
|Offensive coordinator||Mick McCall (11th season)|
|Defensive coordinator||Mike Hankwitz (11th season)|
|Base defense||Multiple 4–3|
|Home stadium||Ryan Field|
|2018 Big Ten Conference football standings|
|No. 3 Ohio State xy$||8||–||1||13||–||1|
|No. 14 Michigan x||8||–||1||10||–||3|
|No. 17 Penn State||6||–||3||9||–||4|
|No. 21 Northwestern xy||8||–||1||9||–||5|
|No. 25 Iowa||5||–||4||9||–||4|
|Championship: Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24|
Rankings from AP Poll
The 2018 Northwestern Wildcats football team represented Northwestern University during the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Wildcats played their home games at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois and competed in the West Division of the Big Ten Conference. They were led by 13th-year head coach Pat Fitzgerald.
Northwestern began the year with a 1–3 record after winning its conference road opener against Purdue but falling to non-conference foes Duke and Akron, as well as Michigan in their conference home opener. The team won their next four games, including wins over ranked opponents Michigan State and Wisconsin, before falling to Notre Dame, which secured a winless non-conference slate. Regardless, the Wildcats clinched their first Big Ten West Division title by defeating No. 21 Iowa the following week. They won their remaining two conference games to finish the regular season with a conference record of 8–1. In the 2018 Big Ten Football Championship Game, they lost to East Division champion Ohio State 45–24. The team was invited to the Holiday Bowl to play Pac-12 Conference runner-up Utah. The Wildcats won by a score of 31–20, their third consecutive bowl victory, which was a program first. In the final AP Poll of the season, the Wildcats were ranked 21st.
Quarterback Clayton Thorson led the team's offense, finishing with 3,183 passing yards, third most in the Big Ten Conference, to go along with 17 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns. Thorson, a fourth-year starter, finished his career as the school's all-time leading passer. Freshman running back Isaiah Bowser led the team in rushing with 866 yards, and wide receiver Flynn Nagel led the team in receiving with 780 yards. On defense, linebacker Blake Gallagher led the Big Ten in total tackles with 127. Fellow linebacker Paddy Fisher was named first team all-conference by the coaches, while defensive back Montre Hartage was named to the first team by the media. Head coach Pat Fitzgerald received the conference's coach of the year award.
Award watch lists
|Lott Trophy||Nate Hall||LB||SR|
|Chuck Bednarik Award||Joe Gaziano||DE||JR|
|Maxwell Award||Clayton Thorson||QB||SR|
|Doak Walker Award||Jeremy Larkin||RB||JR|
|Butkus Award||Paddy Fisher||LB||FR|
|Bronko Nagurski Trophy||Paddy Fisher||LB||SO|
|Outland Trophy||Tommy Doles||OL||SR|
|Wuerffel Trophy||Tommy Doles||OL||SR|
|Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award||Clayton Thorson||QB||SR|
|August 30||7:00 p.m.||at Purdue||ESPN||W 31–27||47,410|
|September 8||11:00 a.m.||Duke*||ESPNU||L 7–21||40,654|
|September 15||6:30 p.m.||Akron*||BTN||L 34–39||40,014|
|September 29||3:30 p.m.||No. 14 Michigan||FOX||L 17–20||47,330|
|October 6||11:00 a.m.||at No. 20 Michigan State||FS1||W 29–19||72,850|
|October 13||11:00 a.m.||Nebraska||ABC||W 34–31 OT||47,330|
|October 20||11:00 a.m.||at Rutgers||BTN||W 18–15||32,514|
|October 27||11:00 a.m.||No. 20 Wisconsin||FOX||W 31–17||47,330|
|November 3||6:15 p.m.||No. 3 Notre Dame*||ESPN||L 21–31||47,330|
|November 10||2:30 p.m.||at No. 21 Iowa||FOX||W 14–10||66,493|
|November 17||11:00 a.m.||at Minnesota||No. 24||BTN||W 24–14||32,134|
|November 24||2:30 p.m.||Illinois||No. 20||BTN||W 24–16||37,124|
|December 1||7:00 p.m.||vs. No. 6 Ohio State||No. 21||FOX||L 24–45||66,375|
|December 31||6:00 p.m.||vs. No. 20 Utah*||FS1||W 31–20||47,007|
|No. 14 Wolverines||0||7||6||7||20|
at Michigan State
|No. 20 Spartans||3||3||13||0||19|
|No. 20 Badgers||7||3||0||7||17|
|No. 3 Fighting Irish||7||0||14||10||31|
|No. 21 Hawkeyes||0||3||7||0||10|
|No. 24 Wildcats||7||6||0||11||24|
|No. 20 Wildcats||7||14||3||0||24|
vs. Ohio State (Big Ten Championship Game)
|No. 21 Wildcats||7||0||14||3||24|
|No. 6 Buckeyes||14||10||7||14||45|
vs. Utah (Holiday Bowl)
|No. 20 Utes||14||6||0||0||20|
|CFP||Not released||NR||NR||22||19||21||22||Not released|
|2018 Northwestern Wildcats football team roster|
Awards and honors
|Pat Fitzgerald||Hayes–Schembechler Coach of the Year
Dave McClain Coach of the Year
|HM = Honorable mention. Reference:|
Players drafted into the NFL
|5||167||Clayton Thorson||QB||Philadelphia Eagles|
- "Northwestern clinches first Big Ten division title with win at Iowa". ESPN.com. Associated Press. November 10, 2018.
- Friedman, Caleb (January 5, 2019). "Clayton Thorson left Northwestern better than he found it". InsideNU.com. Vox Media.
- "2018 Big Ten Conference Year Summary". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
- "2018 All-Big Ten Football Teams and Individual Award Recipients" (PDF). BigTen.org. Big Ten Conference. November 28, 2018. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
- "2018 Watch List | Lott IMPACT Trophy | Honoring College Football's Defensive Best". lottimpacttrophy.org. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
- "2018 Bednarik Award Watch List - Maxwell Football Club". Maxwell Football Club. 2018-07-16. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
- "2018 Maxwell Award Watch List". July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
- "2018 Doak Walker Award Candidates". July 18, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- "Butkus Award - 2018 Collegiate Watchlist". The Butkus Award. July 23, 2018. Retrieved July 23, 2018.
- "2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List". July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
- "22018 OUTLAND TROPHY WATCH LIST UNVEILED". July 24, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2018.
- "Wuerffel Trophy Unveils 2018 Watch List". July 26, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
- "Watch List for 2018 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award ® Presented by A. O. Smith Announced". August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
- "Duke vs. Northwestern - Game Summary - September 8, 2018". ESPN. Retrieved 8 September 2018.