Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois is known as the “Wrigley Field” of college football. It doesn’t quite have the history of the Cubs, but boasts a very classic and old school stadium atmosphere. For a while now, NU has been calling themselves Chicago’s Big Ten Team. Attempts to market this slogan are popping up around the city, and the evidence is beginning to show with more rumps in the seats in Evanston. Perhaps because Chicagoans are slowly realizing that Northwestern is no longer The Big Ten’s little brother.
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.
Often regarded as the Big Ten’s wildest and most thrilling venue, Camp Randall Stadium never disappoints. Once a Civil War training site, this massive structure is crammed in a beautiful residential area among dorms, fraternity houses, campus buildings and bars. The Camp is the perfect college venue with views of the state capital and Madison’s surrounding lakes (Mendota and Menona).
Somewhere amid the cornfields of the midwest lies Champaign, Illinois. It’s a great college town with mounds of enthusiasm and passion for their team. On gameday, tailgating takes place in open fields where music blasts, games are played, and footballs are tossed. You might even catch the band performing a quick drumline or “Oskee Wow Wow” before they make their march into Memorial Stadium.
A very promising day was building for the Illini.
Coming off a Big Ten victory.
Great crowd near capacity.
An early touchdown that gave Illinois a 7-0 lead had the Orange and Blue rattling the columns that align Memorial Stadium.
But, that would end the thrills. Purdue, led by QB David Blough, obliterated Illinois from that point forward.
Established in 1766 as Queens College, Rutgers is older than the United States. History is a big deal around here as nods to the original Queen’s College can be seen in logos and landmarks around campus. That sense of history also spills onto the football field as Rutgers played in the first ever collegiate football game in 1869, thus earning the title The Birthplace of College Football. A statue commemorating that 6-4 victory over Princeton stands proudly outside HighPoint Stadium- an icon on the Rutgers campus.
I have always loved a good upset. It’s part of the unpredictable excitement of college football. It’s a little harder when it’s your team on the losing end of that upset. But, if there is one thing that I have learned on my travels around the country, it is a growing appreciation for the successes of other teams. BYU earned the right to celebrate today.
Our annual Northwestern tailgate was the highlight for those wearing purple this Saturday. Willie the Wildcat even made a guest appearance. Too bad the Wildcat offense failed to show up today, as well.