Saturday, November 16, 2013
We should have seen this coming. All of the preseason hype, all of the accolades, all the sweet dreams of the Kolter-Mark option (which sounds like an exotic financial implement that could short-circuit the United States economy), all of the rankings. It has all come crashing down like a proverbial House of Cards, by which I mean Pat Fitzgerald is now inexplicably talking with an absurd southern accent and delivering fourth-wall breaking asides about Purdue to a camera that isn't there.
Kevin Spacey sounds so much like a Shelby Foote impersonator that I expect him
to threaten to bring hellfire on someone's district then turn to the camera and
start talking about Beauregard
Last week, Northwestern faced a Nebraska team without its wobbly slingshot passing all-everything QB Taylor Martinez and looked like they could finally pull off a Big Ten win. Instead, with no time remaining, a ninth-string quarterback impossibly named "Ron Kellogg III" lofted a ball in the endzone at a Northwestern defender who improbably tipped into the waiting hands of a Nebraska receiver in a play known as Inconceivably Heartbreaking Defeat Right. At least that is what I am told. I did not see the play because I was busy gambling on jai alai, but at this point Northwestern football no longer has the ability to shock me.
Chi Chi Ariguzo's endzone collapse is a pretty decent summation of the season to date
Northwestern is 0-5 in the Big Ten and is desperately scrambling to make a bowl, any bowl. The 'Cats will play anyone, any time in December. They will play the fourth-place Sun Belt finisher in an abandoned tile warehouse? They will play the remaining UFL all-stars in a rendering plant. They will undergo some sort of Captain N process to play against the 1991 Los Angeles Raiders in a Tecmo Super Bowl. They could really use a win.
Northwestern hopes to avenge it's entire season by taking out a mediocre Michigan team on Saturday. Michigan, also touted as potential LEGENDS DIVISION contenders, is not having a great season by any stretch of the imagination. The Wolverines sit at 2-3 in the Big Ten and have yet to record a positive rushing total in the past two games. Fans, though, can be comforted that they have at least qualified for a bowl game that Michigan fans can haughtily look down their collective noses at.
Michigan's offensive woes have made this a winnable game for the ailing 'Cats. And even though a theoretical Northwestern victory has lost a lot of luster against the unranked Wolverines, it would still be vastly satisfying. One of the great pleasures of college football fandom is rooting not only against a current team but entire programs, fanbases, and civilizations. All Big Ten fans have been traumatized by Michigan and Ohio State for so long that you could put a winged helmet on Rocky Balboa and I'd be singing the Soviet National Anthem.
Of course, this would mean that Northwestern would have to pull out a victory at all. Last week, I speculated on twitter about some potentially devastating Northwestern loss scenarios for this season including deadly meteor strikes, vacating the 1995 Big Ten championship, and having a mass of Chicago-area Northwestern fans cause a large enough ruckus to force a forfeit. I've brainstormed a few more since then:
-Colter breaks away for game-winning touchdown but is tackled by the Visitor Section Tarp, which has escaped its moorings and is out for vengeance.
-All of Northwestern football turns out to be an elaborate long con from a family of grifters who wait for the 'Cats to be in winning field goal range before announcing that the game is over, disassembling the stadium, and selling it to be ground up and shipped as gravel as part of an art installation project.
-Northwestern wins a game in dramatic fashion, but does so to the advantage of Biff Tannen, who has traveled back in time, wagered heavily on the 'Cats, and immediately forces us all to live in a post-apocalyptic Biff Town.
-A Soviet sleeper agent alters Northwestern's super-patriotic flag uniforms to hypercolor fabrics that reveal pictures of Lenin when exposed to sweat and moisture. The game is forefeited when a riot breaks out led by the surviving relatives of Apollo Creed and professional wrestlers from the 1980s.
Northwestern's uniforms have created a Patriotic Singularity
LET US WIN A BIG TEN GAME
The Wildcats are certainly hungry for a victory. They will be without Venric Mark the rest of the season and have a fairly banged up with emerging threat Stephen Buckley also injured. It has been a rough season for the 'Cats, but a victory here would still keep them in bowl contention and give some much-needed stakes to the Hat Game. Buck up, Northwestern fans. The 'Cats have been alternately maddening, depressing, and shocking, but never boring, and they can use your fist claws this afternoon.