Thursday, December 31, 2015

OUTBACK BOWL PREVIEW

The ball will drop on 2015 and the curtain will  rise on a bowl sponsored by a dubiously Australian chain restaurant in stadium with a pirate ship.  The Outback Bowl pits a surprise 10-2 Northwestern team gunning for a record eleventh win, continuation of a storied bowl winning streak, and the coveted Crystal Boomerang.

Much like the #WEARABLEHAT campaign, this blog site endorses the 
#DETACHABLEBOOMERANG because you should be able to menace a group of Kangaroos, 
which Wikipedia tells me can be called a mob, a troop, or a court

The most disappointing thing about the Outback Bowl is not its exclusion from the mysterious New Year's Six grouping or its noon kickoff time in the Eastern time zone; it is the lack of absurd and bogus Australian trappings.  The Outback people should have the game announced by a perplexed Australian Rules Football broadcaster who spends the entire time making fun of the teams for wearing helmets and padding and unable, under the rules of football, to jump on each others' heads.  The chain gang should should be replaced by a pair of taxidermied kangaroo hands like in this classic Australian television program.

Skippy's tiny paws signal fourth and inches

BOWLS AND VENGEANCE

The 2016 Outback Bowl marks a return from a two-year bowl wilderness.  The Wildcats had managed to make five in a row, climaxing in the 2013 drought-snapping Gator Bowl that marked their first postseason win since 1949 and the savage demolition of a monkey stuffed animal, its head paraded to a press conference like it was a scene from Christopher Nolan's Curious George.  Now, the Wildcats not only return to bowl play but get a chance to exorcise the ghosts of Raymond James Stadium.

Five years ago, Northwestern played in its first Outback Bowl against Auburn. The opening kickoff shattered the space-time continuum and the rest of the game was played in an alternate dimension, one identical to our own world with the exception that football games become maelstroms of insanity.  Quarterback Mike Kafka was simultaneously the best and worst player in the game, in a performance that cannot be described with a literary reference.  He threw five interceptions but also scored five touchdowns.  His 47 completions (on 78 attempts! This would be remarkable, but remember this football game took place in an alternate dimension), 532 passing yards and also his five picks all set Outback Bowl records.  The 'Cats came back from 14 down twice in the second half and took to the game to overtime.  During overtime, Auburn hit a field goal.  As Northwestern attempted to tie it, kicker Stefan Demos was injured. Undaunted, the Wildcats lined up for another attempt as Fitz signaled in the the play, the World's Most Obvious Fake Field Goal.  It failed, Northwestern lost, and the hole in space-time sealed; no evidence of the game exists except for Kafka's Outback Bowl records and the existence of the 2010 direct-to-video Bulgarian Steven Seagal movie Born to Raise Hell.

According to an anonymous IMDB contributor
"Fueled with vengeance, he leads us on an action 
packed thrill ride while avenging his friend's death." 
If Northwestern and Auburn had played a normal 
football game in our dimension, Steven Seagal 
would have starred in a Bulgarian action movie called 
"Headbutt Mercenary" where a vengeance-fueled 
Seagal avenges his partner's death, vengefully

The 2010 Outback Bowl is somehow not the most insane way that Northwestern has lost a bowl game in the twenty-first century.

If the last Outback Bowl is not enough for you, then the Northwestern Wildcats have a bone to pick with the University of Tennessee.  They last met in the 1997 Citrus Bowl.  The '96 Cats repeated as Big Ten champions and returned Fitzgerald, Darnell Autrey, Steve Schnur, and many of the 1995 Rose Bowl mainstays.  The Volunteers had Peyton Manning, who went on to a glittering NFL career highlighted by several prominent commercials and getting to be on the same team as Trevor Siemian.  Manning strafed the vaunted Northwestern defense using his arm and the secret third eye hidden in his gigantic forehead, and Tennessee prevailed 48-28.  This is the only game these two teams have ever played so the stakes have never been higher; Knoxville-area Northwestern alumni are prepared to launch a "do you remember when you beat us eighteen years ago? No? Well, you did, and now we are even" parade at a moment's notice.

VOLUNTARISM

Tennessee football is a program on the rise.  They finished 8-4, with two losses to playoff powerhouses Oklahoma and Alabama.  They share with Northwestern a disdain for deceitful and unsporting passing offenses, ranking 98th in total passing yards to Northwestern's Roosevelt-era 122nd.

Northwestern's complex offense broken down

I have not watched a single second of Tennessee football this season and have no idea what to expect.  They have an excellent running back in Jalen Hurd, a quarterback who doesn't turn it over, and a good defense that will need to contain Justin Jackson from The Ball Carrying Northwestern into better punting position.  Though they are ranked below Northwestern, odds-makers favor them heavily over the Wildcats.  Northwestern has managed to bludgeon its opponents with its defense all season and eke out close wins.  The question is whether Anthony Walker, Dean Lowry, and the rest of the tackling horde can hold off the Vols even without injured star cornerback Nick VanHoose.  While the numbers people, the gambling community, and the general Knoxville area believes that Tennessee will win in a romp, there are several factors that can contribute to an Outback Bowl upset, according to the latest science.

The latest science

Clayton Thorson: Northwestern's freshman quarterback has not put up gaudy passing statistics this year, but he does have one thing that can tilt the game in Northwestern's favor-- the ability to take off on ungainly gallumphing runs that freeze opponents in disbelief at their majesty.  Here's how Northwestern media guides describe Thorson's runs:
The Thorson was sprinting down the High Street. He was running so fast his black cloak was streaming out behind him like the wings of a bird. Each stride he took was as long as a tennis court. Out of the village he ran, and soon they were racing across the moonlit fields. The hedges dividing the fields were no problem to the Thorson. He simply strode over them. A Purdue defense appeared in his path. He crossed it in one flying stride.
Big Kick Jack Mitchell

The Annexation of Tampa: Northwestern has declared itself Tampa's Big Ten Team, thus securing home field advantage, according to the age-old NCAA rule "Whatever Team first declares itself the Official Big Ten Team of that City, Village, Dwelling, or Post-Apocalyptic Thunderdome-adjecent Settlement becomes the Home Team for the Football Contest by proclaiming it on a Bus.  All otherwise-unaffiliated Residents of said City must comply with the Home Team Advantage for the duration of the Bowl-Game under penalty of Chop Block. This is the Law, we can really enforce this."

Northwestern unilaterally declaring itself the official Big Ten Team of a variety of indifferent 
cities is the greatest marketing gimmick of all time that would only be better if it were done 
by a cape-wearing administrator and his or her retinue of trumpeters and parchment-holders

An Unorthodox Travel Route to Tampa: Traveling west, across the continent, crossing the Pacific, taking the Trans-Siberian railway from Vladivostok to Moscow and continuing across Europe and finally sailing across the Atlantic, rounding Florida to the Gulf of Mexico and into Tampa Bay, the Northwestern Wildcats mitigate the ruination of their body clocks.

General Northwestern Bowl Insanity: Northwestern does not play football in bowl games.  Instead, the team agonizes through a series of trials, calamities, and triumphs that I am currently selling as a Young Adult book trilogy called The Onsiders: A Sun Bowl Novel.  The 2010 Outback Bowl is just one small example the chaos-laden world that a Northwestern bowl game thrusts fans into.  By the end of the game, it is entirely possible that the game has, against all predictions, turned into a shootout, that the pirate ship has become fully operational and in the throes of a mutiny, that Pat Fitzgerald is pumping his fists at another Fitzgerald that is wearing an eye patch, or that Northwestern may even somehow win eleven games.

I SAID G'DAY

The Outback Bowl is the culmination of one the greatest seasons in the history of Northwestern football.  The Wildcats can, with a win, win two consecutive bowl games for the first time, win eleven games for the first time, win the Outback bowl for the first time, beat Tennessee for the first time, and win a bowl game without severing the head of a plush monkey doll for the first time since 1949.  This has been a season of outrageous fortune, reversing two years of seeming to be on the end of every bad break and bounce possible to continually seize close wins.  Perhaps it is possible that the 'Cats can pull out one more in 2016, hoisting that crystal boomerang to the sky, and putting it in its rightful place next to the Hat. 

1 comment:

Joe Daly said...

Submitted for Your Consideration, Sirs: As we all know, Australia is "The Land Down Under", where Winter is Summer,Summer is Winter and toilet bowls swirl in an unnatural backwards manner.

Therefore, NU has logically won the above-mentioned previous Outback Bowl vs. Auburn, since the lower score, is, per All Natural Law in Australia, the higher score. I further suggest that The Mitch McCall Game Plan will fully take advantage of this little-know scientific and physical law and act accordingly.

Respectfully Yours,