Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Forgetting the Alamo
San Antonio has not been kind to Northwestern this decade. You may recall the 2000 Alamo Bowl, where future NFL Europa superstar safety Eric Crouch led Nebraska to a 66-17 husking of Northwestern. Even worse, I remain convinced that Nebraska's mascot, which resembles nothing less than a bouncing, inflatable Big Boy sign, was a crucial step that led to the creation of Air Willie.
The tragic result of a Pygmalion-style
wager in the Athletic Department: "I'll
bet I can make this mascot more inbred
The 2000 Alamo Bowl was played as an ode to the Battle of the Alamo itself, with Northwestern in the role of Davy Crockett, Sam Bowie, and Dwayne Missouri hurling themselves against the invincible legions of Santa Anna.
Perpetrators of unsporting massacres at the Alamo
Incidentally, my favorite Davy Crockett story has nothing to do with frontiersmanship, or mountains, or dead animal hats, but the U.S. presidency. It all started when Richard Lawrence, a house painter in the D.C. area, became convinced that he was King Richard III of England. He also somehow decided that it was the treacherous hand of Andrew Jackson that prevented him from staking his claim as the rightful heir to the British throne. Obviously, Lawrence had only one way to rectify the situation and that was to kill Andrew Jackson, which would grant him the Crown and transport him to the fifteenth century. So on January 30, 1835, he followed Jackson to a funeral and attempted the first assassination of president in U.S. history. As Jackson passed by the pillar where Lawrence was skulking, he fired at the president point-blank, but the pistol misfired. He then produced a second pistol, which also misfired, although I choose to believe that he fired them both at Jackson simultaneously while flying out of a mortuary drawer under the cover of a flock of doves. Jackson's entourage, including Davy Crockett, subdued Lawrence before Jackson thrashed him with the business end of his cane.
According to Lawrence's Wikipedia entry, "Lawrence worked as a painter and
there is speculation that exposure to the chemicals in his paints may have
contributed to his derangements...His personality changed dramatically around
this point. He was previously conservatively dressed, but now he dressed
flamboyantly, and grew a moustache."
This time, the experience was far different. For starters, the Alamo Bowl changed sponsors from Sylvania to Valero, which meant that an entirely different team of corporate stiffs got to gladhandle each other in luxury boxes and be greeted indifferently at halftime at a half-full game.
The Alamodome is a fairly crappy venue largely because it is a dome, which completely negates the point of having a bowl game in a warm weather city. The game might as well be held in Detroit which boasts the possibility of legal carousing for the underage in nearby Windsor, Ontario and a festive display of trashcan fires along the way to Ford Field.
CROWN THEIR ASS
Northwestern entered the game as 13-point underdogs, essentially the largest underdogs in the entire bowl series. Pundits expected Northwestern to be unable to contain Missouri's insane offense featuring Chase Daniel, Chase Coffin, Chase Patton, Jeremy "Chase" Maclin, and Holts Scoven. In fact, several predicted a shootout because they hadn't watched a single Northwestern game this season where a resurgent defense carried an offense that had departed from its prodigious output in past years. These are the same people who continually assume that the Bears' defense kept them in games this year and that Napoleon III would march triumphantly through Berlin, scattering Germany back into its atomistic Dukedoms, Duchys, and components of the Holy Roman Empire.
Napoleon I is not walking through that door
Missouri played like the Alamo Bowl was a booby-prize after starting the year with BCS ambitions, although the Tigers lost to pretty much every legitimate team they faced. Northwestern picked off three errant Daniel passes, including a spectacular diving grab by inhuman defense machine Corey Wootton, and largely kept Maclin in check for the first half, until he inevitable burst through for a punt return touchdown. Northwestern played well on offense, although they failed to capitalize on several possessions, which would have given them the win, and Missouri figured out how to get to C.J. Bachér in the second half, leading to several blindside hits where the only way the defense could have hit him harder is if they were bearded Norsemen who had one of those battering rams with a ram skull carved into the end presumably to give it more rampower. Even so, Northwestern was in position to win for most of the game, even benefiting from the Curse of Mike Nugent when the oppositions' automatic kicker misses an important late-game field goal. The only thing the game lacked was an attempt at the unstoppable Victory Right play on the last hail mary attempt.
Northwestern does not often lose in overtime, which made the loss even more crushing. The Wildcats squandered plenty of opportunities to get the upset and generally looked like the better team out there. Nevertheless, the loss demonstrated that Northwestern's defense is for real and will retain most of the starters for next year. Northwestern is going to win one of these bowl games one of these days.
INEVITABLE BLOG POSTGAME WRAP-UP GIMMICK
For this game, BYCTOM is debuting the Charlton Heston Damn You list, for those who deserve to be the recipient of our fist-shaking incredulity.
-Jeremy Maclin, 2 TDs, ran reverses with rank impunity
-Sean Weatherspoon, bone rattling forced fumble basically ended the game
-Horrifying random knee injuries, forcing Wootton from the game
-Chase Daniel's Family, being on TV constantly, distracting from Henry Bienen sightings with his colorful Swiss Guard
-Frank Solich, running up the score in the 2000 Alamo Bowl with unnecessary halfback option passes
-The invincible legions of Santa Anna
-The brutal continued U.S. occupation of the Republic of Texas
-The Riverwalk and its tourist-trap mayhem with the exception of one time when I was there and a guy in a Luchador mask was just skulking around, Richard Lawrence-like, presumably waiting for a hapless passerby to be the victim of an unexpected flying elbow drop or a cleverly-hidden steel chair
-Dr. Zaius, this is a madhouse
-Kaiser Wilhelm II, treachery, mustache