The glint of the golden Irish helmets have not reflected off the light in Evanston since 1976. Notre Dame and Northwestern have met often in the past, but home games for the Wildcats were typically shifted to Soldier Field. The purple invaded South Bend four years ago and shocked the Irish in overtime. That same magical feeling was hovering over tailgates around Evanston and over Ryan Field as an undefeated Notre Dame team spilled out onto the Wildcats’ home field.
Packed to capacity, Ryan Field was jammed with Notre Dame and Northwestern faithful anticipating a hard fought battle. The 7-7 halftime score suggested that the Irish better take the ‘Cats seriously. Northwestern struggled early in the season, but now had the inside path to the Big Ten Championship Game. They were no pushover.
The second half gave the Notre Dame band more to play about. Two quick Irish scores provided some comfort for fans in navy and gold. Despite their team’s success, some visiting fans complained about the underwhelming amenities at Ryan Field. “I used to like Northwestern until I had to come to their stadium,” barked one fan. Not every team is as fortunate with such a rich football history as Notre Dame helping to pump funding toward fan perks.
Despite their lack of a football palace, the Wildcats are always a threat. Two fourth quarter Northwestern touchdowns later, Notre Dame began to realize how much of a target is in their back. An exciting final quarter continued with QB Ian Book putting the game in the victory column for Notre Dame with a 23-yard dash to the end zone.
One of the best environments ever at Ryan Field didn’t leave fans disappointed. Two good teams played very well. The Irish have playoffs in their sights and the Wildcats likely have a Big Ten title game looming. These two Chicagoland teams are making their city proud.