College football players have settled into their dorms and houses on their respective campuses and returned to the field for training camp.
While those players are still competing for a spot on the roster, CBSSports.com experts are making their preseason Top 25 predictions and three Chicago area team are in the mix.
Tony Barnhart and Jerry Hinnen were the only two experts to leave Northwestern out of the top 25. Dennis Dodd listed the Wildcats 21, above NIU, Baylor, Michigan and Arizona State, the highest ranking by the six experts. Jeremy Fowler listed NU at 23, Bruce Feldman, Tom Fornelli and Chip Patterson ranked NU at 24 and Jerry Palm squeezed the Wildcats in at 25.
The Associated Press ranked Northwestern 17 going into the 2012 Gator Bowl against Mississippi State. NU beat MSU 34-20.
Barnhart, Dodd, Hinnen and Patterson all believe Northern Illinois will continue the momentum from last season BCS bowl run into this season and end up in the Top 25 for the second consecutive year. While Dodd, Hinnen and Patterson give NIU the 25 spot, Harnhart predicted the Huskies to do a little better ranking them 24 on the list.
Northern Illinois was ranked 16 by AP going into the 2012 Orange Bowl against Florida State, where they suffered their second loss of the season.
Seven of the eight experts have Notre Dame in the mix but nowhere near the one spot the Fighting Irish entered last year's BCS Championship in when they lost to Alabama.
All but Dodd (who believes Ohio State will end up at the top of the list) predict Alabama will end up in the top spot.