This was Northwestern’s bowl game – Wrigley Field. It really should be the site of a postseason bowl game – the College Football Tour Windy City Bowl, perhaps? But, I digress. After winning the Big Ten west division two of the last three years, the Wildcats have slipped back to the Big Ten’s basement. This battle against the surging Boilermakers in “the friendly confines” offered Northwestern a bowl-like experience.
The scene was reminiscent of something out of the 1930s. The iconic old-world venue hosted these two charter members of the Big Ten with the manually operated scoreboard keeping track of touchdowns and field goals. The stands filled with purple and old gold and black. The rare moments where the Wrigley grass is painted with hashmarks and endzones creates a special scene regardless of the team’s records on the field.
Eleven years ago, the Wildcats faced Illinois at the home of the Chicago Cubs in a memorable event that included ESPN’s College Gameday and the famed Wrigley Field sign painted in purple. There was no Gameday or purple paint today, but the Wildcats hoped to avoid a loss like they did against the Illini back then.
Purdue has built their season around gargantuan victories over top 10 opponents. Toppling #2 Iowa and #3 Michigan State reminded fans why Purdue is often nicknamed the Spoilermakers. Northwestern has suffered from a defensive deficiency that is not characteristic of recent teams in Evanston. Purdue took advantage all day with huge pass plays that continuously kept the Wildcats in a hole. Northwestern kept it close in the third quarter, but ultimately the visitors from West Lafayette would overwhelm the home team and leave Chicago with a 32-14 victory.
As the season nears its finish line, Northwestern will be focused on a defensive reclamation project for the future. Purdue should expect an attractive bowl game to close their season and a chance to play Spoilermaker one more time.