9:50 PM EDT, Mon September 01, 2014

California 31, Northwestern 24

Jared Goff threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns as California topped Northwestern 31-24.

Wildcats expect to weather latest storm

KENOSHA, Wis. -- Northwestern's practice Thursday began with some players, mostly baritone offensive linemen, singing Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a prayer." It ended with the annual watermelon eating contest. The Wildcats didn't exactly look like a team in crisis. They've endured a lot in the past 10 months, from a season-crippling Big Ten losing streak to the potentially locker room splintering unionization campaign with no resolution. The latest blow arrived Wednesday, as star running back Venric Mark announced he would transfer, the day after he oozed optimism about the 2014 season.

Northwestern Wildcats season preview

Previewing the 2014 season for the Northwestern Wildcats: 2013 overall record: 5-7 (1-7 Big Ten) Key losses: QB Kain Colter, DE Tyler Scott, LB Damien Proby, K Jeff Budzien Key returnees: QB Trevor Siemian, RB Venric Mark, WR Tony Jones, WR Christian Jones, SB Dan Vitale, C Brandon Vitabile, LB Chi Chi Ariguzo, S Ibraheim Campbell Instant impact newcomer: WR Miles Shuler. He arrived on campus last year but was forced to sit out a season following a transfer from Rutgers.

Venric Mark's transfer stunner for Wildcats

After a season of bad breaks (and often bad play) and a spring under national scrutiny, Northwestern hoped its toughest days were in the past. But Wednesday proved to be a very tough day for the program, as standout running back Venric Mark announced he will transfer to play closer to his home in Houston. If that stunner wasn't enough, Northwestern also lost veteran wide receiver Christian Jones to a season-ending knee injury sustained in practice.

Venric Mark leaving Northwestern

One day after Venric Mark said he planned to “hit the ground running” after returning from a two-game suspension, Northwestern announced that its star tailback is leaving school.
Chicago Tribune Aug 12, 2014

NU's Mark reflects on his 'shocking' suspension

KENOSHA, Wis. – Venric Mark termed his suspension “shocking,” but Northwestern’s star tailback and return man did have time to prepare. He found out over the summer he’d have to sit out NU’s games against Cal and NIU.

Best case/Worst case: Northwestern

Football practice is in full swing, and we're just three weeks away from kickoff. To get you ready, we're looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each Big Ten team in 2014. Do not view these as predictions in any way, shape or form. They are meant to illustrate the realistic potential highs and lows for a team's season, and any game-by-game breakdowns are more of a means to an end than anything else. And we're trying to have some fun here.

Big Ten Friday mailbag

It's almost the weekend, and only three more of these without football. Use it wisely. Don't forget that I'm hanging out in a new space on Twitter, and you can follow me here. Now, I'm 'bout to 'bag it up: Chasmo from Greenwich Village writes: I know you were anti-union last spring when Northwestern's players were about to vote but after writing your story about how the Big Ten football coaches want autonomy for their sport and a commissioner who will pay attention to just football all year long, can you still support coaches like Pat Fitzgerald when they make argument that Big Ten players...