If only everything we learned in college would come in this handy. The lessons learned from the Boise State game four weeks ago about finishing games strongly would be put into action again in Evanston. The game was part of ESPN’s night lineup. At the time, Big Ten games at night were somewhat of a rarity. Therefore, the energy in the stadium was naturally overflowing. Half of the stadium was purple and the other half was red, which is the typical way Ryan Field reaches a sellout. Both bands were there and it offered a bowl game-like atmosphere.
Up to this point, I had seen every Big Ten team – except Michigan. Without question, I was looking very forward to seeing the famous maize and blue with their historical winged helmets. On top of that, I was excited that this was my first game that did not involve Wisconsin. I felt like I was broadening my horizons a bit. Last year, during Northwestern’s unbelievable Rose Bowl run, I was unable to attend any of their games. So, I was completely clad in purple looking forward to seeing the new and improved Wildcat team.
I never knew how much I liked purple – not that there was a lot of it in the stands on this day. I figured the low attendance was a result of the cold rain that dampened Dyche Stadium. But, I soon learned that Northwestern has had an unfortunate athletic history. 1949 marked their last Rose Bowl experience – or any bowl expereince for that matter. So, even though Wisconsin lost to Michigan State the week before, I felt confident that the Badgers would win with ease.