1962. Gas was 31 cents a gallon. Kennedy was president. The Beatles released their first single. And Northwestern went 4-0. Unfortunately for the Wildcat program, that was the last time they had experienced that record…until today. A nice crowd (for Northwestern standards) showed up on a perfectly beautiful day to witness their Wildcats sweep their non-conference slate and reach 4-0 for the first time in 46 years.
The task was an ugly one, however. Northwestern tallied sixteen in the first half. Ohio mustered eight in the second half. 16-8 was the final score with a mess of turnovers, blocked field goals and offensive sputtering. However, the Northwestern defense has looked better than it has since the mid-90s when the Wildcats went undefeated in the Big Ten and found themselves in the Rose Bowl. Do I suggest that the same thing happen this year? Probably not. But, I would expect some surprises from this team.
Prior to the game, we soaked in Wildcat Alley, which is a pregame festival that takes place just outside Ryan Field. With food, games, the band, and Willie the Wildcat, it offers a nice family friendly atmosphere. Yet, in the middle of it all lies a beer garden with free beer. So, basically we have a few square yards of debauchery amongst the youth and innocent. Yet, still, this is Northwestern and the atmosphere remained somewhat sedate. It’s still a pretty fun place to hang out before the game, though.
At the conclusion of the game, students were chanting “undefeated” and celebrating with the team. The excitement level could definitely be felt. Northwestern has reached an expectation level that is on the rise, and if they allow the Big Ten schedule to intimidate them and destroy their nice start to the season, it’s going to take more than free beer to heal the wounds.