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NCAA Football Team History - Northwestern Wildcats - History
1903 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
1926 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
1930 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
1931 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
1936 Big Ten Conference Champions
1995 Big Ten Conference Champions
1996 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
2000 Big Ten Conference Co-Champions
The Wildcat Nickname
Football players had not come down from Evanston; Wildcats
would be a name better suited to (Coach) Thistlethwaite's
boys ... Stagg's boys, his pride, his 11 that had tied Illinois
a week ago, were unable to score for 57 minutes. Once they
had the ball on the nine-yard line and had been stopped
dead by a Purple wall of wildcats." These lines were
written by Wallace Abbey in the Chicago Tribune following
the memorable Northwestern-Chicago game in 1924 that heralded
a new era in Northwestern football. From that day on, all
the Northwestern athletic teams have borne the nickname
Following the Chicago contest, which NU lost 3-0 on a last-minute
field goal by Bob Curley, Northwestern met the famed "Four
Horsemen" of Notre Dame and battled the Fighting Irish
to a standstill before bowing 13-6. Northwestern's points
were scored on two drop kicks by All-American Ralph "Moon"
Baker. After that, there could be no question of the appropriate
nature of the new nickname.
Years later, Major General Robert H. Wienecke, captain
of Northwestern's 1924 squad, recalled: "We were just
an average team which developed a spirit that carried us
to superb heights against Chicago and Notre Dame. I feel
that the reputation gained by the team in those two final
games of the 1924 season launched a momentum that was to
lead to the Big Ten championship two years later."
Sweet Sioux Tomahawk
The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk goes annually to the winner of
the Northwestern-Illinois football game.
The Sweet Sioux initially was designed as an authentic
wooden Indian, like those that used to stand in front of
cigar stores throughout the nation. It eventually posed
a transportation problem and was replaced by the current
Northwestern gained possession of the first trophy with
a 13-7 victory over Illinois in 1945. Entering the 1998
season, the Fighting Illini hold a 28-23-2 series lead over
the Wildcats since the symbolic award was established, but
Northwestern has won the last three meetings and five of
the last seven.
The color purple (with white) was selected by a special
committee in 1894 as the official school color, not only
for the athletic teams, but for the entire university.
The mascot known as "Willie the Wildcat" was
developed in three stages. The nickname "Wildcats"
was initiated in 1924. Nine years later, in 1933, the Northwestern
athletic department teamed up with an advertising firm to
create the first caricature of Willie. In 1947, the first
mascot was actually brought to life when four members of
the Alpha Delta fraternity dressed up as Willie for their
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