The Northwestern Wildcat Football Team shrugged off a hideous loss to an FCS bottom-feeder and managed to defeat Iowa and the fetid rump of the Big Ten West to qualify for this, a mid-afternoon weekday bowl game played in a frigid baseball stadium against a Power Five opponent that is so angry about playing Northwestern that its fans have been complaining about Bowl Tie Conspiracies. I could not possibly be happier.
A long and costly investigation by the hard-bitten journalists of the Pinstripe Bowl website
who spent days sleeping in cars and meeting with informants in empty warehouses overlooking
waterfronts and surviving threats that show that they were getting too close to the truth finally
reveals that both teams are excited to play in this bowl game
The internet hosts a smattering of maniacs who somehow oppose the rabbit-like proliferation of bowl games over the past few decades because I guess it taints the august legacy of for-profit amateur exhibition football. This is insane. There should be more bowl games. There should be a bowl game for every American, each sponsored by a preposterous company or branch of the United States military, played in a weird frozen stadium in front of 85 people at 10:00am on a weekday and if you go to them there should be Official Bowl Events for each fanbase that include all of the pretentious pomp of major sporting events even though it's for the Amalgamated Belt Buckle Corn Dog Bowl located in a disused rust belt buckle factory complete with some obscure 90s band trotted out for an elongated halftime and a national television crew and the President of Amalgamated Belt Buckle swaggering in for the Presentation of the Belt Buckle Trophy punctuated by streamers falling on the empty floor at what had once been the room where they custom embossed "BOSS HOSS" right onto the buckle except for the time they got an erroneous plate and had to recall all those BOSS HOSE belt buckles, but that was not the responsibility of this man, the President of Amalgamated Belt Buckle, under whose stewardship the company has recovered and is now prosperous enough to host a Bowl Game.
College football is too large and too unwieldy for a single championship to cover, and to write off shitty bowls because they don't count also means writing off the vast majority of college football games. Northwestern football games face the same criticisms as those leveled at shitty bowl games: low attendance, prominence of tarps, the involvement of the Northwestern Wildcats, and none of that has any impact on my own enjoyment of it. When you strip all of the glittering grandeur and television talking heads discussing the playoff picture with the same breathless tones as the terms of the Yalta Conference, the end result remains the same: an entertainment product that holds precisely as much meaning as we allow it. And much like Northwestern football, the primary focus of shitty bowl games is to give us a few hours to pass the time, yell at people in a socially acceptable way, and make Big Ten fans angry on the internet.
THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH
Once, Northwestern owned a devastating bowl loss streak that stretched decades because the United States suffered through a horrifying paucity of bowl games and robbed us of things like the Dapper Dan Looking Good, Sport Pomade Bowl and also the Wildcats lost the vast majority of football games they participated in. That all changed with the 2013 Gator Bowl, Northwestern's sole postseason victory in the NATO era. Now, the Wildcats enter their bowl game as substantial underdogs, desperate to prove the college football experts wrong and come home with the Pinstripe Bowl Trophy, a statue of former Northwestern coach and Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ordering people to trim their beards like a baseball Peter the Great.
Historical woodcut of George Steinbrenner demanding that
Goose Gossage cut off his beard before being allowed to throw
baseballs at people
Pitt boasts an 8-4 record, victories over Clemson and Big Ten Champion Penn State, and a supercharged offense that last scored 76 points against Syracuse. That game saw a record 137 points scored as both teams attempted to defend using only rhetoric. The Panthers' offensive juggernaut comes as a bit a surprise since they are coached by former Michigan State defensive mastermind Pat Narduzzi. Narduzzi gives the game some emotional heft, as he doubtless seeks to avenge his mentor Mark Dantonio who watched these very same Wildcats rampage for an unprecedented 54 points in East Lansing against a Narduzziless Spartans team that went from Big Ten East contenders to a 3-8 squadron of Purdue impersonators.
Pat Narduzzi is on the prowl for the blood of the Wildcat in his operatic Bowl Game Revenge
Narrative that I've just invented because we need something for this bowl game rivalry these
teams haven't played since 1973
Northwestern combines an unpredictable season with its tendency to turn its bowl games into a complete free fall into chaos where nearly every possible kind of football misfortune becomes possible. Last year, the Outback Bowl descended into a miserable and boring blowout unbecoming of a Northwestern bowl loss. The laws of Probability Science unambiguously declare that Northwestern is due for a bowl game that involves at least overtime, a game-deciding extra point return, a series of preposterous interceptions, and an incident where the entire crowd is distracted and then when they look down on the sidelines Pat Fitzgerald has been poisoned and a New York City detective must interrogate a stadium full of monocled professors all of whom hide a sinister secret.
BASEBALL STADIUM FOOTBALL
At last, the Northwestern Wildcats have returned to their natural home, a Stunt Baseball Stadium Experience. The 'Cats played in a baseball stadium fairly recently, when they took on Illinois at Wrigley Field in 2010. The game's most notable feature was its use of a single endzone after a meticulous Big Ten study of the field layout determined that it would be detrimental for football players to run face first into a brick wall. The unidrectional play did not cause too many problems to the integrity of the game like it would have if they had taken away the hashmarks or the fifty yardline or the people dressed like anthropomorphic hot sauce bottles who are forced into brutal races for the twisted pleasure of braying fans.
Though the Illini only had one endzone, they were allowed to use all of their available Zooks
The game has shifted to Yankee Stadium in its second iteration. Yankee Stadium remains haunted by the ghosts of great Yankees in the past like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, and a fictitious baseball player named "Mickey Mantle" invented by Bob Costas and Ken Burns as a massive prank on millions of American Baby Boomers who swear they saw him play when what they really saw were blurry photographs of dozens of actors in stirrups who could not even consistently remember to hit from the same side of the plate. That stadium was demolished. The Pinstripe Bowl will take place in the new Yankee Stadium which hosts legendary throngs of belligerent New Yorkers who are still screaming at Alex Rodriguez for some reason.
The Pinstripe Bowl's unique setting offers several amenities such as wind burn and the opportunity to see a sport played in a venue designed for another sport. Imagine thinking to yourself, hey, that's where the mummified remains of Derek Jeter used to dive feebly at balls just out of his reach as you watch receivers dive feebly at balls just out of their reach. I am sure the commentators have been working on their comparisons like these to inform the people trying to surreptitiously stream the game because it is on in the middle of a workday. Imagine Jack Mitchell, unleashed in his natural baseball environment, winding up to split the uprights and hit the Scott Brosius statue in Monument Park as commentators Mike Golic and Mike Golic, Jr. (this is true, those maniacs) bellow that this one is for all the pinstripes.
Fans somehow figure out how to mock a guy for bobbling a ball in a football context and also
repeatedly scream FUCK YOU at all and sundry
The Pinstripe Bowl, even by bowl standards that include a single bowl named after Beef O'Brady's and cryptocurrency, at least three bowls named for chicken restaurants as well as one named after a duck call so that you can shoot your own fowl to consume at your leisure, and unmitigated potato worship, is weird. It's in an unconventional venue in a cold city where residents are spending the week bracing for an influx of people who are willing to stand outside for hours to be in the presence of Ryan Seacrest. The setting is anomalous enough that it is ripe for the rarest of all bowl traditions: a Northwestern victory.