Wildcats have only just begun to impress

Northwestern University shined in the national spotlight last week thanks to the Wildcats historical encounter with Ohio State on the football field last Saturday.

The result is not what the Wildcats faithful wanted (a 40-30 loss), but there were plenty of good things that came out of it. Moral victories, if you will.

>> The ratings. The university and the program have reached a new level of recognition. The Ohio State game scored a 2.2 rating, and more than 6 million viewers. It was one of the highest rated games in Northwestern history.

>> The City of Evanston reaps the benefits of NU's elevated fame. Evanston showed it can handle circus of ESPN's "College GameDay" and everything that follows.

>> The "Cardiac Cats" proved they are just as athletic as any team in the country. Northwestern had been known as one of the greater academic institutions in the United States that seemed to lack in athletic competition. Last weekend's performance (at one point Northwestern had a 10-point lead) has changed the perception of NU athletics.

>> Pat Fitzgerald. He has cemented himself as one of the more consistent coaches in the game. Coach Fitz's stock has risen so high that there are rumors about him being a candidate to take over USC at football program (let's hope not).

>> Fringe benefits. In the end, getting the most media exposure since the Rose Bowl season of 1995 is good for business. It will help with recruiting, it will help the other sports programs and it could help Northwestern's enrollment increase.

Gabe Salgado is a RedEye special contributor.

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