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Northwestern

Fall camp opens: Monday.

First game: at California, Aug. 31.

Big man on campus

Senior running back Venric Mark. He’s an explosive and versatile back who rushed for 1,360 yards last season. What Husker fans will remember is his 80-yard TD run against Nebraska last season that put Northwestern up 21-10.

To-do list

It’s hard to believe about a team that hadn’t won a bowl game in 60-plus years before winning the Gator Bowl last season, but Northwestern will have to guard against complacency coming off a 10-3 season. Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl. Now the goal is to compete for division and Big Ten titles. “What I said as I put the Gator Bowl trophy up above my head is that we’re just getting started at Northwestern,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said at Big Ten Media Days. … One of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten last season loses three starters. That group coming together will be key to the success of quarterback Kain Colter, Mark and the team. 

What’s new

A program that has now gone to five straight bowl games and has an attractive home schedule, with several night games, already has set a record for season-ticket sales. Northwestern hosts Ohio State in its Big Ten opener in a night game at Evanston, Ill. … The season opener at California will be a 9:30 p.m. (CDT) kickoff, so Northwestern will adjust its practice schedule leading up to the game. … This will be the third straight year the Wildcats' full-time coaching staff remained the same, giving the program some consistency.

-- Brent C. Wagner

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