EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — Coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern Wildcats will have a lot to be thankful for this week.

The Wildcats football team is up to No. 11 in new AP rankings. That is their highest national ranking since their Rose Bowl run in 1995-96, when Gary Barnett was at the helm and Fitzgerald was a player.

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It is also a jump of eight spots in the ranking, after their win over previously No. 10 Wisconsin on Saturday.

They are also up 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time in nearly 25 years.

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“We’ve got really, really good football players. We’ve got outstanding football players in my opinion. We’ve got a bunch of guys who are potentially going to be All Big Ten, potentially All-American, and potentially in the NFL, and you’ve got to earn it every rep. We’ve got to do that here,” Fitzgerald said. “Now, since I’ve been a part of the program, I just think our squad is a tough group of football players. I think they love the game, they love each other, they love playing for each other – and I think it shows in the physical toughness and mental toughness that they demonstrate on the field.”

Fitzgerald continued: “There’s not a lot of pomp. There’s not a lot of circumstance. There’s just playing the game the way we try to teach it. That’s the right way – playing tough, physical, four-quarter football. We’ve got to get ready to go be road warriors. We’ve got back-to-back games on the road. We’ve got to go up and play a rested Michigan State team that’s got us at home, so it’s going to be a huge challenge next week.”

The Wildcats are now the last unbeaten team in the Big Ten West, and dare we say on a path to a major Bowl Game appearance on New Year’s Day if they keep it up.

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