I know that Michigan held Northwestern to zero points in the second half last week, but do Wildcats have that short of a memory. Remember your team, Wildcat fans? If not, allow me to help you remember – your team is known for their potent, yard gaining, point scoring, spread ‘em out offense that relentlessly baffles defenses and pulls out thrilling last minute victories. Please print out this description and laminate it. Put it in your billfold or purse and refer to it when another situation arises like that of the Iowa game. I apologize for my rant, but it always has remained a pet peeve of mine when fans give up on their team when there is still a chance for them to come back from behind. Evanston was the scene for this situation this past Saturday.
Iowa fans hopped on their tractors and made their way to Chicago buzzing in their black and yellow and some literally wearing straw hats. Culture lives in college football and Hawkeye fans are a piece of the fabric that makes it truly vibrant. Northwestern is your classic wine and cheese crowd that treats Wildcat football more like the appetizer before watching Masterpiece Theater. Granted, a few raindrops fell this Saturday, but Big Ten fans are known for their grittiness undaunted by Mother Nature’s decisions. Wildcat fans are about as gritty as cotton. But, those who show always attempt to spruce up the atmosphere.
The Hawkeyes vaulted to a 24-7 halftime lead and looked psyched to pack-up a conference victory. With about five minutes left in the game, Iowa’s lead was cut to 27-14 and the Wildcats were punting. This is not a situation fans would want their team to be caught in, but it shouldn’t inspire everyone to start finding the exits. The often maligned Wildcat defense stopped Iowa and began a drive that tailback Tyrell Sutton finished cutting the score to 27-21 with just over two minutes left. By now, there were more Iowa fans in the stands than Wildcat fans. Most had gone home. An onside kick awaited. The perfectly bounced ten-yard kick landed directly in the hands of the Wildcats and Northwestern set up their offense immediately. Without hesitation or fear, the ‘Cats drilled their way down the field and with 42 seconds left, Bret Basanez connected with Ross Lane to take the lead 28-27. A stunned bunch of Hawkeyes were unable to recover from the Wildcat surge and Northwestern became bowl eligible with yet another dramatic victory.
For those who went home early: Did you feel badly when you flipped on the TV and saw the final score flashing on the bottom of the screen. Did you do a double take? Did you look at your ticket and think, “I didn’t get my money’s worth.” Luckily, the players didn’t give up and for those who stayed, it was a game to remember. But, I’m sure Iowa fans wish they had left early.