Friday, September 15, 2017


Northwestern survived a shaky opening game and went to Durham to prove that they would not repeat last year's out of conference nightmare that changed season from one where they hoped to compete for a division title to one that involved scrapping for bowl contention.  Instead, they went to Duke and got run over by trucks.

Foiled once again by the Duke Boys

The 42-17 bludgeoning at the hands of Duke promises a repeat of last year's season where a disastrous start to the season somehow turned into a feisty run through the dregs of the Big Ten to a Pinstripe Bowl Championship.  The revamped schedule only has one more non-conference game that could turn into white knuckle terror before the 'Cats have to face the two most terrifying games on their schedule.  Meanwhile, Illinois has shown alarming signs of football competence and Purdue has thrown away its staid old playbook of painting tunnels on the side of a cliff and then running into it to a series of plays where Purdue runs triple-reverse flea flickers at all times and distributes propaganda leaflets to opposing defenses that sow confusion and dissent while the Purdue quarterback strolls towards the endzone.  P.J. Fleck now coaches Minnesota with the insane stare of a man who has literally paid $100,000 to continue yelling at people to row the boat; I don't know what Fleck means by Row the Boat, but there are few things more dangerous than a football coach with a monomaniacal mantra that is now his intellectual property.

Fleck explains that part two in the Row the Boat Process is The Boat

The Big Ten West looks far more dangerous than it did a year ago, and after two games Northwestern's path to its most important goal, a berth in the Go Ahead and Bite It Attack Dog Arm Protector Bowl has become fraught.


Pat Fitzgerald shouldered past the dial-a-down. Planning on taking it one game at a time. Sound practice advocated by such diverse football tacticians as George Halas, Bum Phillips, Dr M.H.H. Rarritt advertising on the back pages of Football Man's Advocate PO Box 412. One game at a time makes sense, temporally; no madman could possibly play two games at the same time, two fields, two quarterbacks, two head coaches and replay officials, all jumbled in the same corner of space-time, unfathomable. If that happened, Pat, you'd have a much larger problem than the Wisconsin Badgers is what the professor professed at him when he pulled him aside and very quietly inquired about the physics of taking it two or even three games at a time. You can't do that, young men, he told them every day at camp, halfglassesed, chalksmeared. He suspected Mick McCall thought otherwise, but the two had decided not to discuss theoretical physics, not again.

DURHAM-- The blue-clad spectators indulged in their joyous Satanic rituals as they watched their Blue Devils make minced-meats upon the hapless Wild Cat of Northwestern.  They rejoiced as their heftiest Dukemen tossed aside Northwestern's line men, sacked their quartered-backs, and browbeat them with a variety of approved touchdown dances.

The grisly rampage took place in front of a group of Duke notables: the Vice Chancellor, the Bursar, the Acting Bursar, the Landlord Shelden Williams, Three Cameron Crazies, A Duplicate Krzyzewski-- one of many deployed against the numerous attempts to kidnap or poison him upon the Tobacco Road, an Eminent Professor of Semiotics, a Slightly Less Eminent Professor of Semiotics who is preparing a devastating attack upon his colleague in Fightnote: The Journal of Learned Insults, the Committee for the Ducolax Opiod Related Constipation Bowl.

(Grabs his wrist, his face in strained gutshot pantomime.) Held. Held. Armpinioned and engulfed.

(Stonefaced. Staring at the dial-a-down.)

(Makes a series of pained referee gestures). Rough-tackled. Illegally celebrated. Persecuted for false targeting. 

(A gargoyle.)

(Its tongue lolling, its eyebrows arched. inflated by some sort of sulphurous gas as it sways side to side). HISS HISS

(Logs on.) Unacceptable. Horrifying. Fire him. Siege his office and take his memorabilia.

(Also logs on.) Fire him. Roast him. Slash him with an iron claw.

(Shimmers through carbon fiber.) Disgraceful. Unimaginable. An appalling and low moment to the program, that this Pat Fitzgerald would present himself in front of America and his God in short pants.

(Whips computer mouse around in a threatening nunchuk pattern). Scratch him. Fight him.

(Breaks keyboard in half with his forehead). Claw him. Bite him.

The shorts are not only the sartorial choice of a languorous child, they present numerous tactical disadvantages vis. exposure of the knee to the elements.

(Rides through the Canyon of Heroes brandishing his Pinstripe Bowl trophy.)

(Throws newspapers. Strains to get a glimpse, dangerously halfway through a window, beckons to a coworker to hold on so he does not go plummeting into the Canyon of Heroes himself.)

(Sells bootleg Pinstripe Bowl merchandise that contains the misprint Pinstripe Bowel to throngs of fans shaking money.)

(Bestows on FITZGERALD  the key to New York, awarded for winning the city's most prestigious Sports Championship.)

(On the dais, sweating, howling as a MIKE GOLIC buds off of him.) Mike?

(Coming into being.) Thanks, Mike.

I have read that Nick Saban often wears two pairs of pants. Even if, during the course of a game, his pants become ripped, soiled, or otherwise damaged, he has with him an entire extra set of pants.

(Waterskis through the Canyon of Heroes). Trousers? Slacks? Hot pants? This isn't haberdashery. This isn't fine Italian silks. This isn't monocle accessories. You go and you get the dang ball. This is football, gentlemen. Page 27, from Gentleman, Comma by Ron Zook.




Knute Rockne never wore regular pants, but had surplus US Army tents cut down and made into specialty Coaching Pants. For it was a different game back then, when spectators would lunge, attempting to take the opposing coach's pants as a trophy. Vincent Lombardi sewed his pants into his legs, and they could only be changed via a painful surgical procedure.

We will take it one more game at a time I promise.

(Assembles unwieldy mound of charts and books.) R. Deborah Pwy, "Football Time, Football Space," the Journal of Coaching Science; J.A. Shermanesque, "A Theoretical Construct of Two Games at a Time," International Review of Time-Game Literature; Chasen Mantis, "What If They Play No Games at a Time Did I Just Blow Your Mind," No Way/Way. 

It is the sound conclusion of the scientific community.


Here's an interesting and reassuring fact about Northwestern's UNDER THE LIGHTS clash against the Bowling Green Falcons: Northwestern has never beaten them.  They have only played twice-- once in a November shootout that they lost 43-42, and another in the ill-fated 2003 Motor City Bowl, at that point the lowest ebb of Northwestern's bowl loss streak that wasted a 237-yard day from running back Jason Wright.  I expect to see an intimidating flock of Falcons fans descending upon Ryan Field with numerous reproductions of the Motor City Bowl trophy.

There are dedicated football wonks who have film and two-deeps and sophisticated computer rankings about Bowling Green, but these types of games represent opportunities to project the hopes and fears for the coming Big Ten season.  I don't know whether Bowling Green has a good defense, but I do know that if Northwestern continues to struggle running the ball against them it bodes ill for a coming clash with the literal tons of Wisconsin linemen.  I have no idea what Bowling Green's offense looks like, but it will be encouraging if the limping, wounded remnant of Northwestern's flight-suited Sky Team manages to match up with their receivers before Trace McSorley comes to town.  I have no idea if Northwestern can get over psychological mind games that the Falcons will certainly use from the 14-year-old bowl humiliation, but that sort of thing is crucial when it comes to overcoming Fleck's boat taunts not to mention the crucial contest for The Hat. 

Northwestern remains, for some reason, heavily favored once again, when the lights and the cameras of Big Ten Network Regional Coverage will be on them once again as they attempt to defeat the Bowling Green Falcons for the first time.

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