The Northwestern Wildcats football team, representing Northwestern University, is an NCAA Division I college football team and member of the Big Ten Conference, with evidence of organization in 1876. The mascot is the Wildcat, a term coined by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1924, after reporting on a football game where the players appeared as "a wall of purple wildcats". Northwestern achieved an all-time high rank of No. 1 during the 1936 and 1962 seasons, then plummeted to extended levels of futility from the mid-1970s to 1994.
The Wildcats have won three Big Ten championships or co-championships since 1995, and have been "bowl eligible" in six out of the last seven seasons.
Northwestern consistently ranks among the national leaders in graduation rate among football teams, having received the AFCA Academic Achievement Award four times since 2002. Despite the stricter academic standards, Northwestern has produced many notable athletes, such as former first-round draft picks Luis Castillo and Napoleon Harris, as well as current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Trevor Siemian.
The Wildcats have played their home games at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois, since 1922.
Willie the Wildcat