How many different ways can oranges be squeezed into orange juice? Ask Syracuse. In Greg Robinson’s three years on campus, the Orange have experience only seven wins. Often the fourth year at a program is the lucky year for coaches. The trip to Evanston brought along hopes for a brighter future at Syracuse. Northwestern, under third year head coach Pat Fitzgerald, was looking for the next step that would lead them to the post season.
The old phrase, “What goes around comes around” couldn’t have been more fitting for our second game of the day between Duke and Northwestern. Each team exchanged turnovers on their opening plays validating that phrase with immediate gratification. To learn how this phrase applies on a more grand scale, we have to go back 25 years when Northwestern was riding a 34 game losing streak. The Northern Illinois huskies helped to snap that dreaded streak in 1982 causing fans to storm the field, tear down the goal posts, and hoist them into Lake Michigan. Now, in 2007, the Wildcats are in a better place athletically, but Duke is the team that comes in carrying a 22 game monkey on their back. On this day, it would be Northwestern’s turn to help end the pain of a dysfunctional football program. It would be done in heart-halting fashion, as well.
At the conclusion of this game, my brother turned to me and said, “Well, they scored on the first play and the last play and the Badgers roughed ‘em up in the middle.” Simply stated, this is true. After last week’s complete break down against UNLV, Wisconsin’s fans appeared forgiving as they crammed Camp Randall to capacity. The Badgers looked ready to atone for their errors and take out all aggressions on the baby blue from tobacco road. North Carolina and their followers stood out more than any other team I have seen enter this stadium. Their unique, yet well known shade of blue popped out from the bright red reflecting off the sunny skies in Madison. There was a good contingency from Chapel Hill and their team’s 0-2 start hardly seemed to faze them.
Nothing could stop the fourth annual Eddie Robinson Classic from kicking off the 2001 campaign – except lightning. The Badgers and Cavaliers had to wait to begin action in Camp Randall Stadium due to lightning cells that were threatening the Madison area. Officials had fans move into the field house and into the concourse of the stadium to wait out the weather. While huddled with thousands of anxious fans, rumors began to spread about the game being cancelled altogether.
The Kickoff Classic had become a highlight for college football as it “kicked off” the start of a new season. Played in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the event has seen many great players, teams, and games. This year’s battle was featured as the duel between Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. It had all the elements of being a classic clash.