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 true Big Ten football. It’s the real deal, especially lately.
All September afternoons need to be this beautiful. Temperatures in the low seventies and sunshine that glistened off Lake Michigan provided the perfect environment for our 7th Annual College Football Tour Northwestern Tailgate. Colleagues and family, old friends and new all joined for food, drink, and games. Tailgating at Northwestern is spread out, but there are some magnificent spots that can rival any Big Ten venue – we found one today.
DeKalb, Illinois is not that far from the city life of Chicago, but it may as well be in central Nebraska. From interstate 88, you can see Huskie Stadium, that is if the corn has already been harvested. Due to television contracts with ESPN, many Middle-American conference games fall on weekday nights, but that does not dull the enthusiasm. Many folks drive in from work and it may take a while to get adjusted to the college football mindset, but once the Huskies take the field to a barrage of fireworks, that ol’ Saturday feeling comes back.
#BlackoutBC was the battle cry in DeKalb on a Friday night opener for Northern Illinois’ tussle with Boston College. Decked in black, Huskie fans flanked both sides of Huskie Stadium to kickoff Labor Day weekend with some serious tailgating.
At the end of September, Penn State Football appeared ripe for mediocrity. One blocked kick against Ohio State brought them back to the surface of national relevancy. One blocked kick returned for a touchdown that toppled the potentate of the Big Ten launched Penn State into the conference title game where Wisconsin was waiting.
Unique brands of tailgating are a college football tradition on all campuses. But, nothing compares to Ole Miss. The Grove is a ten acre space shaded by oaks, elms, and magnolias providing an elegant backdrop for thousands of Ole Miss tailgaters. Sporting News calls it “The Holy Grail of tailgating sites.” People stake their claim the night before and set up elaborate tailgates on gameday.
Ole Miss was the favorite in this year’s Egg Bowl. It would not be their favorite day, however. Apparently, becoming bowl eligible wasn’t enough for the Rebels, but ruining their chances was everything for their rival.
The Chicago Cubs just won the World Series – a 108-year streak without this feat. Ryan Field celebrated by flying the W atop the towers rising over the upper deck. The NU band played “Go Cubs Go” to an all-crowd sing along. Breaking streaks like this are always cause for major celebration. Another streak was on the line as well. It’s not quite 108 years of suffering, but the Badgers have not experienced success in Evanston since 1999. Today, that W flag would also stand for Wisconsin.
Two weeks ago, overtime claimed Wisconsin a victim at Camp Randall. Tonight, the Badgers would enter overtime again while facing their FIFTH Top 10 opponent this season.
The scene in Kalamazoo is one of those that gives the smaller venues in college football a great reputation. The fans that fill Waldo Stadium are lively, devoted, and help to make Western Michigan football relevant.