Northwestern won 10 games a season ago, its only losses coming against top teams in Michigan, Iowa and Tennessee.
Well, if the Wildcats are going to win 10 regular-season games in 2016, they'll have to win out.
Northwestern suffered another gut-wrenching loss Saturday, falling to 0-2 after FCS opponent Illinois State kicked a game-winning field goal with three seconds left to win an ugly 9-7 affair.
Neither team could do much of anything on the offensive end, and Northwestern was getting shut out for the vast majority of the afternoon. Illinois State scored a first-half touchdown but stayed at six points when it missed the extra point, the second missed kick of the game after the Redbirds missed a field goal try earlier in the contest.
Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Cats broke through, Clayton Thorson connecting with Austin Carr on a touchdown pass on a fourth-and-five play from 10 yards out.
The Redbirds had one final drive in them, though, marching 71 yards in 11 plays over the game's final three minutes to set up for a game-winning kick. Pat Fitzgerald spent two timeouts icing the opposing kicker, but Sean Slattery booted off the left upright and through for the game-deciding score.
For a second straight week, Northwestern coughed away a game late. In the season-opening loss to Western Michigan, Thorson fumbled on the goal line in the game's final minutes, leading to a 22-21 loss.
The Cats' offense was ineffective as could be Saturday, totaling just 277 yards and seven points. Northwestern rushed for just 86 yards as star running back Justin Jackson received just 11 carries for 39 yards. Thorson completed 17 of his 41 passing attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown, still without an interception on the season.
The Cats' defense picked off Illinois State twice but allowed 372 total yards.
Northwestern is off to a gruesome 0-2 start to the campaign and takes on Duke next weekend to close out the non-conference portion of its schedule.