Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EVANSTON INVASION: Revenge On the Nerds

As a Big Ten fan, you have a complicated relationship with the other conference teams. Some programs/coaches you respect (Penn State, Michigan State until the handling of the Chris L. Rucker situation). Some are legit border rivalries (Minny, Wisky, soon to be Nebraska). Some, to quote Craig Finn, "I couldn't find the hate and I couldn't find the fear" (Indiana, Purdue). Some you just flat out hate 24/7/365.

And then there's Northwestern.

The nerds in purple used to be a reliable "W" on the schedule (season series is a comfortable 45-22-3 lead). During my formative years of watching Hawkeye football, we won 14 straight. And when you live in Chicago, it's so easy to take the Red/Purple up to that dinky little high school stadium of theirs. Back in the good ol' days (2001), I went to a game with Rich and Kary (Hawkeye fans from the hometown) and we won 59-16. We spent the first half of the game actively watching and cheering, and the second half talking, occasionally being interrupted by oh hey look we scored another touchdown. It was fun, and easy to make fun of them as the school we kept in the Big Ten to keep the conference's grades up.

And then Fitzgerald happened.

In the four years he's been coach, he's beaten Iowa three times. And it's not like he's ever had the better team:
  • In 2009, we were 9-0, ranked No. 8 in the country, high off that amazing win over Indiana, and then Corey Wooton crunched Ricky Stanzi's ankle, and it all went to hell. The pain is still strong, and fuels my motivation to win on Saturday. We finished 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl; they finished 8-5.
  • In 2008, Shonn Greene had his usual 100-yard game but Iowa had turnover-itis and lost by 5 points. We finished 9-4 and won the Outback Bowl; they were 9-4 and lost their lesser bowl.
  • In 2006 we were in the middle of a meltdown season, and they came into our house and beat us by two touchdowns. We finished 6-6 and went to a bowl we frankly didn't deserve; they finished 4-8.
Why did this happen? Mostly, because Fitzgerald Hates Iowa. He will never say as much in public, of course, but Hawkeye State aka Patrick Vint explains in this essay that it dates back to his playing days. And while we must acknowledge he has brought the program to Barnett-era levels of achievement, he has a particular hard-on for Iowa, and motivates his team to beat Iowa unlike any other opponent out there.

Basically: they are a smarter, in-conference version of Iowa State. Their whole fucking season revolves around beating Iowa. Despite inferior talent and lesser prestige, they see us as the only metric for their program.

As if the coach wasn't bad enough, NU fans are the nouveau-riche of college football, refusing to acknowledge anything that happened before 1995 (note to NU fans: you sucked). They never fill up that tiny stadium unless Ohio State, Michigan State or Iowa comes to town.They are the hammer and sickle to our Stars and Stripes, the ruble to our dollar. They are dirty communists (elitist, Gucci-wearing commies).

All of which is a way of saying WE'RE GOING STREAKING IN THE QUAD tailgating on enemy turf before the Iowa-justNorthwestern game Saturday. We've got a couple things in our favor. For starters, TM will be at the game, and Iowa is undefeated when she's in attendance.
TM was there. Probably took this picture.

For another, Ricky Stanzi is a senior and has cut down on the Stanziballs. Adam Robinson is back after missing last week with an injury. We need this game to stay in the Big Ten conference championship conversation. And TMMPF is hosting the pregame party.

So if you're anywhere in the Central Time Zone, you're invited to our tailgate Saturday morning. Reach out to any either co-author for contact info. Say "Fitzgerald is a dirty commie bastard" and drink free all morning, on me. The Hawkeyes, and America, will thank you.

Note: credit for the "empty seat" photo, and general inspiration/support, goes to Black Heart Gold Pants.

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