The Northwestern Wildcats football team represents Northwestern University as an NCAA Division I. Founded in 1876, the Northwestern Football mascot is the Wildcat, a term coined by a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1924, after reporting on a football game where the players appeared as "a wall of purple wildcats". Northwestern Football is also known as "Chicago's Big Ten Team" with its proximity and ties to Chicago.
The Wildcats have won three Big Ten championships or co-championships since 1995, and have been "bowl eligible" five times between 2015 and 2020. Northwestern consistently ranks among the national leaders in graduation rate among football teams, having received the AFCA Academic Achievement Award four times since 2002. The Wildcats have played their home games at Ryan Field (formerly Dyche Stadium) since 1926.