Game 229: #21 Stanford @ Northwestern

Stanford – the in vogue pick. I admit that I became swept into the hype by putting them in high regard for a playoff position. Instead, a muggy day at Ryan Field became a potential Northwestern revival.

The early kickoff forced College Football Tour’s Fifth Annual Northwestern tailgate to serve morning brunch – not that 8am Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s can’t satisfy. Our usual spot on Sheridan Road kept our gaggle in the heart of the action on campus, and parking lots filled with Wildcat purple and traces of Stanford red.

Two consecutive losing seasons had the Northwestern faithful debating on whether spending Labor Day weekend at Ryan Field was a worthwhile adventure. School was not yet in session, keeping most students away, but relatively strong attendance numbers were evidence that hope was still treading water in Evanston.

Hope would be in full breaststroke mode by the fourth quarter. Stanford couldn’t get their much-accoladed offense rolling. Quarterback Kevin Hogan led the charge, which shrunk to a whimper as the game progressed. It’s not like the Wildcat offense was leaving tire marks on the turf, but their defense had the Corvette Cardinal looking like a geriatric jalopy.

Because of the low scoring, cheering was kept to a minimum. It’s almost as though NU fans were waiting for their team to fall apart and send their visitors back to Palo Alto with a gift wrapped victory. But, a late door-slamming interception evoked the loudest cheer of the day, thus awakening the realization that the Wildcats secured the 16-6 upset.

An impressive defense and improved offense led by new QB, Clayton Thorson, had Northwestern fans hollering the “Fight for Victory” phrase of the fight song a little louder than the rest of the song’s lyrics. Not many opportunities arose for Stanford fans to sing. The Stanford band wouldn’t have even been allowed to visit Evanston due to its ban from traveling to all 2015 road games (let’s just say they have a history of showcasing an overzealous collegiate brand of salacious and harassing behavior). The iconic tree mascot was also noticeably missing, which was truly disappointing to our mascot loving group. All this is fitting though, I suppose, for a day that Stanford seemed entirely absent altogether.

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