A summer of tumult in Evanston set the football program on shaky ground. Hazing allegations resulted in the ousting of legendary head coach, Pat Fitzgerald and the hiring of interim coach, David Braun. However, the Wildcats have already exceeded expectations. After suffering a 12-game losing streak, Northwestern has notched impressive victories over UTEP and Minnesota. But, highly ranked Penn State stood as a formidable obstacle on this Saturday.
Ryan Field is not known for being an intimidating place to play. It has its moments for sure, but today’s energy felt unusually weak. There appears to be a divisiveness amongst the fan base. Some side with Pat Fitzgerald, and others want to move forward and embrace a new future. Plans for a state-of-the-art stadium have Evanston residents divided, as well. Some are thrilled with the new design and others have expressed concern about noise and traffic that additional concerts would produce. The future is riddled with question marks, and somehow, this Wildcat team has maintained focus.
Northwestern kept this game close in the first half with the score knotted at 10 for halftime. However, the second half belonged to Penn State as they pulled away and shut down the Wildcats 42-13. The Nittany Lions have Big Ten championship and playoff aspirations. Northwestern does not. But, when the question marks vanish and the fog lifts away from over the program, the goal will be to return to stability and consistent winning.