Before the beginning of the 2007 season, Northwestern showed potential for improvement upon the previous year's record. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach stated that Northwestern has the seventh easiest schedule in college football,  and SI.com's Steve Megargee claimed that Indiana was the only Big Ten school with an easier schedule.Running backTyrell Sutton was one of 64 players in college football to be put on the Maxwell Award watch list for the nation's best college football player.
The Wildcats began the season with their first shutout since 1997 in a 27–0 win against the Northeastern Huskies. On October 7, quarterback C. J. Bacher broke Brett Basanez's school record for single-game passing yards by throwing for 520 yards in a victory over Michigan State. Bacher went on to be named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week and the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Another strong performance in a win against Minnesota earned Bacher Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for the second week in a row.