Thursday, October 16, 2014

YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE SAFE FROM THE FOURTH QUARTER


This is Master of Horror Svengoolany bringing you to the depths of terror every Saturday with the most frightening programming imaginable: Big Ten Football.  Tremble at fumbles.  Cringe at special screams.  Try to sleep a full night after gazing into the grotesque dancing of man-sized gophers, badgers, wildcats, discarded rugs wearing a scarf, an anthropomorphic hammer-wielding chin made flesh.

Last week's feature left your mind boggled with fear as you gazed upon "Terrors from the Fourth Quarter 5: Another Quarter."  You watched as Northwestern fans walked into a creaky basement, stopping only to put their car keys in their most inaccessible pockets, separated individually, and turned off their flashlights.  But the rustling they heard was not a cat this time, it was Jalen Myrick leaping from the shadows, returning a kick 100 yards, and plunging a rusty farm implement into Northwestern's temporary control of the Big Ten West Division while cackling maniacally.

This week, we bring you night terrors.  A speed demon.  A town besieged by a scarlet horde taking over the stadium to their unspeakable ends.  An unfathomable head-bouncing avatar of corn's sinister possibilities.  And Ryan Field shrouded in darkness.

In the dead of night, when all is still and unnervingly quiet, in the distance you might be able to 
catch the faintest whisp of an unnatural mechanized yow yow sound echoing through the wind

GRAVE ROBBING

Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist.

Hablot Knight Brown's Ressurectionists (l.) depicts body-snatchers at work in the late eighteenth
century.  The corpse dissection industry caught the public imagination in Britain in 1828, when 
William Burke and William Hare were implicated in a string of murders in order to obtain salable 
corpses.  They sold them to Robert Knox, an anatomy lecturer who was never prosecuted, but 
was publicly derided for purchasing the bodies and because according to this picture of him, he 
looks really mad-scientisty

Justin Jackson looks harder to bring down every week.  The defense held against the bruising David Cobb.  And, despite his murderous name, Gopher Head Coach Jerry Kill did not kill anyone during the game at all.  Minnesota now controls the West.  This is much more satisfying than saying that a team controls the Legends because it sounds like teams are medieval warlords rather than rogue anthropologists.  Despite the deflating loss, Northwestern still played well, and the occasional backbreaking kick return touchdown with little time remaining in the fourth quarter seems just a normal part of the Northwestern football experience.

GOTHIC HORRORS

Last year, Nebraska turned Northwestern into a House of Horrors when an impish spirit took possession of Ron Kellogg III and delivered a stomach turning hail mary as a contribution to the Block Museusm exhibit on shitty football losses.  The Wildcats' bowl hopes looked dead after two gutting losses to open the season; they have been galvanized back into life with two big wins over Penn State and Wisconsin and now they lurch about, terrorizing Big Ten West opponents who have no idea what to make of them.

Northwestern football scientists reanimated dead tissue into a 
creature learning what it means to be human although it knew 
innately to protest against an unjust defensive holding penalty

Some people say sequels have diminishing returns, but you will be glued to your seat with the third straight edition of "Terrifying Running Back Is Lurking in the Backfield."  This week, Northwestern defenders will be looking in their rear-view mirror at what is that movement, oh that must just be from a truck that passed by, but there it is again and then oh my god it's Ameer Abdullah and his hook hand. Abdullah surely will be the focal point of whatever fiendish concoctions are cooked up by Bo Pelini and his coaching staff.
Pelini tries to sell skeptical Nebraska fans on the Black Cloak defense

Northwestern will hope to play another close, low-scoring game inspired by their suddenly fearsome defense.  The offense may be hampered by a banged-up Siemian as InsideNU's Zapruder film analysis of his ankle tape reveals.  The game should be a raucous Homecoming affair, with alumni coming from far and wide to take up nearly 50% of available stadium space.

But who knows what horrors may lurk again in the fourth quarter?  If a football game is a spooky mansion (this is a common metaphor in high-level football analysis), then the first through third quarters are wandering around the house only occasionally startled by a creak or by a painting of a duke with shifty eyes and then the clock chimes fourth and the stairways turn into ramps and the shifty-eyed duke is made flesh into a vengeful ghost duke and Ron Kellogg III and in fact all of the Ron Kelloggs are bending the time-space continuum and scoring on hail mary passes in three decades simultaneously.  If that happened, it would be bad.

PRIMAL FEAR AND NIGHT GAMES

It has been a rollercoaster season.  If Northwestern football kills you on Saturday, make sure that you are guarded against Victorian grave robbers and anatomists, or better yet take preventative measures and remove your heart right now and transplant it into a rampaging monster that learns about human emotions by watching the Wildcats.

The moon will rise above Ryan Field.  And it will bring with it the return of long-deceased late-night hauntings from Carlos Hyde, Denard Robinson, and Matt McGloin, that flame-headed hobgoblin of Northwestern football.  But do not be afraid.  But don't be afraid of the stadium's haunted past.  The ghosts of past defeats don't really exist like Frankenstein monsters and werewolves and Big Ten spots in the College Football Playoff. 

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