All September afternoons need to be this beautiful. Temperatures in the low seventies and sunshine that glistened off Lake Michigan provided the perfect environment for our 7th Annual College Football Tour Northwestern Tailgate. Colleagues and family, old friends and new all joined for food, drink, and games. Tailgating at Northwestern is spread out, but there are some magnificent spots that can rival any Big Ten venue – we found one today.
We wrapped up the festivities and walked in mass toward Ryan Field. Waves of purple motioned toward the stadium as anticipation for a new season buzzed through the crowds.
The underdog Wolfpack would keep that crowd firmly in their seats as Nevada howled to a 17-7 halftime advantage. As the 18 bands from high schools around the Chicagoland area took over the field at halftime, Wildcat fans anxiously awaited a second half wake-up. They would get their wish. Two touchdowns in the final six minutes by quarterback Clayton Thorson hushed the pack of Pack fans that traveled from Reno to Evanston.
Positive changes surrounded Northwestern athletics. Improved concessions at Ryan Field, a gutted out and under construction Welsh-Ryan basketball Arena, and new lakeside practice facilities are making Northwestern a desirable direction to travel.
How long will these changes translate to Big Ten championships for the Wildcats? Season openers are not an adequate measuring stick for such a question, but as the sounds of “Go U Northwestern” fill the air with more frequency, it’s hard not to imagine a trophy case filled with more than just hope.