Scratching and clawing is the way wildcats fight, and the Northwestern Wildcats have been fighting for decades – scratching to be noticed and clawing for relevancy. The dark days of the 70s and 80s are long gone, but they still cast a long shadow over the present day program. Despite multiple visits to the top 25 and five straight bowl appearances, many outside the Big Ten (and still many within) struggle to view a victory over Northwestern as a notable accomplishment. Attempts to remedy the stigma include branding the program with the catch phrase, “Chicago’s Big Ten Team.” The moniker has caught fire, but has yet to engulf the city’s sports fan base. Nevertheless, the Wildcats keep scratching and winning. Last season, they recorded their first bowl victory since 1949 and that momentum is carrying into this season. Achieving respect as a conference title contender is still a hump to get over, but last week’s win over Cal and a win over Syracuse in Evanston tonight would get the season rolling in the right direction.
Chicago’s Big Ten Team brought in some Chicago icons including Mike Greenberg from ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning – he served as honorary captain. The national anthem was performed by famed Blackhawks anthem singer, Jim Cornelison. An energetic crowd aided a offensively potent bunch of Wildcats to a knockout of Syracuse.
This was College Football Tour’s third annual tailgate and we shifted locations to a tailgating spot more centrally located on campus. The campus lots on Sheridan Road provide free parking and shuttle service to Ryan Field – ideal for our group of nearly forty folks who joined the festivities this year. The weather cooperated and a shady spot under a few trees provided an oasis for food and bean bag toss. The victorious outcome of the game punctuated a fantastic day.
And now…a funny sidenote – Northwestern offers free ball caps and scoreboard recognition for large groups. Every year, I get “College Football Tour” flashed up on the board at Ryan Field. Usually, the group names are displayed as the only message on the board, sharing with no other group. This year, they must have received a surplus of groups because “College Football Tour” had to share the same screen with five other groups including “St. Joseph Girls 8th Grade” I suppose that diminishes my website’s credibility a tad.