Friday, October 7, 2011

No Hat, No Problem

The Wildcats will be taking on Michigan under the lights at Ryan Field on Saturday with the goal of getting past last week's wrenching loss to the Illini in a contest of grave hat-related consequences.

The Northwestern football program is as bareheaded as this
mildly terrifying Lincoln model I found without context on the
internet, although thanks to BYCTOM it will now come up in
google image searches for "creepy Lincoln murder stare"

Though the Wildcats managed to bottle the fearsome Illinois rushing attack that treated the defensive line like a well-trodden welcome mat in Wrigley Field, they had no answer for vowel enthusiast Nathan Scheelhaase and his wartime consigliere AJ Jenkins who lit up the Northwestern secondary for 268 miserable yards.

It is pointless to linger on unpleasantness of watching a team you root for give up a big comeback, especially for Northwestern teams that have developed a propensity for squandering leads with the relish of a spendthrift eighteenth century aristocrat pumped full of brandy, snuff, and an inbred overconfidence in his own abilities to outsmart the Continent's most determined baccarat hustlers. That, I suppose, is the danger in doing something as foolhardy as allowing oneself to become emotionally attached to the fortunes of sports teams whose members occasionally have the impudence to do something as insensitive as lose, and lose when the stakes are unfathomably high-- in this case, the retention of a crappy hat trophy and apparently some sort of vague seigniorial rights over Chicagoland.

Zook's Illini make an advance in the never-ending battle to
determine who gets to be Chicago's Big Ten team

In two consecutive games the Wildcats have taken late leads only to give the opponents just enough time to come back [correction: as pointed out in the comments by jhodges, Northwestern never actually blew a lead at Army, but the Wildcats did tie the game on a quick drive that allowed Army to methodically move down the field for the go-ahead score, which was also crummy] There are many unpleasant ways for a team to lose a football game: getting completely run over from start to finish, losing on a diabolical trick play or dubious penalty, realizing that they were secretly working for the opposing team the entire time and thus scoring against themselves through some confounding act of treachery. But scoring too soon knowing that the Sword of Damocles is hanging over the defense in the form of AJ Jenkins scampering through the secondary with nary a care in the world is a not particularly enjoyable way to spend several minutes on a Saturday afternoon.

Nevertheless, fans should take heart knowing that the season is still young and there is still ample opportunity for this team to shower spectators with the glory of associating with them or give fans the opportunity to grow as human beings through experiencing pain, heartbreak, and agony with our purple-clad friends as we all learn that the only game that matters is the game of life



One heartening thing to take from the Illinois game was the return and strong play of Dan Persa, who helped the 'Cats seemingly take over the game with a career-high four touchdown passes. Unfortunately, he left the game, leaving Kain Colter to lead the last drive, but all indications he will play against Michigan this week. Like most Northwestern fans, I've been excited about this game for awhile. The Illini game showed that Persa is still fun to watch as he deftly escapes from the enormous men repeatedly attempting to drive him into the ground. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is the most exciting player in college football. And given both teams' recent struggles on defense (Michigan's shutout of Minnesota notwithstanding), this could be a game with enough scoring to roil great Big Ten coaches of old disgruntled with the chicanery of the forward pass enough to possess the body of Jim Delany and run rampant through the Central Street business district.

I have it on good authority that Jim Delany's fist names are
Legend and Leader

The Wildcats will be starting a streak of three consecutive night games this Saturday. They'll be traveling to the friendly confines of Kinnick Stadium next week and then hosting Penn State. With a traditional ubiquitous Big Ten hatred of Michigan football, the recent enmity towards Iowa, and a desire to avenge last year's collapse against Penn State, there is the hope of gaining some momentum towards another bowl game.


No Northwestern win would be as daring as a manuscript robbery at Mount Saint-Odile in Alsace. This article, sent to me by reader and self-described Central Asian enthusiast Asher, involves a man who would stop at nothing to liberate the monastery of valuable rare books. The culprit, one Stanislas Gosse, found a map of the monastery in a public archive that revealed that all he needed to do to gain access to the library was to climb the monastery's steep walls, ascend a scary monk staircase, and then trigger a secret door hidden in a cupboard. It is not certain whether or not the map has revealed any additional hidden passages to a deadly conservatory.

Mont Saint-Odile had generally been resistant to
thievery because of the whole precipice of a sheer
cliff thing. In keeping with the clumsy Clue
reference in the last paragraph, the part of the
game that always left me mystified was
determining the weapon that killed Mr. Boddy.
I'm relatively confident that even the bumbling
Inspector Gregson would be capable of assessing
whether someone was shot, stabbed, hanged, or
bludgeoned to death without extensive police scrutiny

Between 2000 to 2002, Gosse allegedly made off with more than 1,100 volumes in this madcap monk mischief. He was caught by cameras planted in the library as he picked through volumes by candle-light, showing an impressive dedication to medieval burgling tactics. Fortunately, the courts resisted the urge to throw the book at him, although I should almost certainly be detained for what just happened in this sentence. Gosse was fined 17,000 Euros, but instead of prison he was sentenced to helping the monks restore their books. He was charged with burglary by ruse and escalade, although that charge seems wasted in this instance and should only be leveled against crimes involving seduction, absconsion, and escape from the Bridge of Sighs.


The Bears will also play in a high profile night game as they travel to Detroit for a rare Monday Night Football appearance in the Motor City. They are coming off a less than convincing win over the Carolina Panthers, who deserve no sympathy after cutting Tyrell Sutton. Detroit's vaunted defensive line may get a boost from rookie sea monster Nick Fairley, who may make his debut against the Bears' injury-riddled and competence-averse offensive line. Given that the Bears stand a far greater chance of seeing Jay Cutler turned into a pinkish smear on the Ford Field turf than actually winning the game, I suggest that the Bears turn to a surrogate quarterback willing to Sydney Carton himself into a number six jersey while Cutler remains safely esconsed across the lake and free from the marauding likes of Suh, Fairley, and Vanden Bosch. Perhaps they can contact that Jay Cutler body builder guy who always unexpectedly turns up mid-flex in an otherwise innocent google image search for the Bears quarterback used to mock his peerless sideline dourness.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have
ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than
I have ever known. Flex.


Usually after four games, you have a pretty decent idea of what a team is like. Thanks to a Persa-less non-conference schedule that included a win over an increasingly unimpressive Boston College team, an FCS foe, a mind-boggling loss to Army, and the Illinois debacle, I admit I have absolutely no idea what is in store for the Wildcats this season other than it should be interesting. Nevertheless, I hope that the game against a ranked Michigan team is as exciting as billed. If the game is boring or disastrous, I'd like to encourage Wildcat fans to liberate university papers from the university's most inaccessible library in order to assuage another week of football grief.


jhodges said...

Great story, as usual, but (an unfortunate) note that Northwestern never led against Army, Ebert's 62 yd catch-and-score tied the game at 14 in the 4th quarter, and Army subsequently marched down the field (had to do it) and scored the go-ahead TD.

BYCTOM said...

Thanks for the correction.