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The Hybrid: College GameDay At Northwestern Feels Weird

College GameDay is coming to Northwestern for the first time since the Rose Bowl season in the mid-1990s.

Yeah, it’s been a while.

Despite Northwestern’s ascension in the Big Ten these last five years or so, something still feels off about GameDay coming to a place like Evanston. Don’t get me wrong, Evanston is beautiful, Northwestern is obviously a premier school, and it’s not like the football team isn’t nationally ranked, but at the same time, it’s hard to shake the feeling GameDay has chosen to set up shop on infertile grounds. Almost a “oh, did they not know?”-type thing that you’d only be perceptive of if you were from around here.

The last and first time I went to a Northwestern home game was for NW-Iowa. The year was 2007. I was a senior in college, and I went to see a mediocre Iowa Hawkeyes team struggle on offense against the Wildcats. Ryan Field has a capacity of about 47,000 — the smallest stadium in the Big Ten — but the listed attendance was just over 30,000 that day. It somehow felt like less, and it gave the stadium a real “indifferent high school crowd” vibe. Iowa was allergic to first downs for the first few quarters, so they went down early, but a second half surge gave the Hawkeyes the lead and eventual victory, 28-17.

If you’ve ever traveled with a crew to follow your team playing an in-conference road game that they actually win, this is about as good as it gets as a college football fan. You have the threat of losing, the thrill of actual victory, and the ability to talk shit to everyone in your path as you walk back to your car. Iowa may have had the exact same record as Northwestern (5-5) as we were leaving the stadium, but we just beat them by double digits on the road, gosh darn it. Fun was to be had, right?

The problem: nobody gave a shit.

Angry, unhappy, volatile? Nothing. If those traits aren’t college football, I don’t know what else to use. They were more a mix of indifferent, somewhat hasty, and just ready for whatever was next on their agenda for that particular day.

I use my experience not to broad-brush and say “that’s the way it was, and that’s still the way it still is” … nah, it’s more like “if it was that bad then, I can’t imagine it being polar opposite now”.

Who knows, though? I’m an optimist, so I like to think the kids will get up for it, and the game itself is great, on paper. Let’s hope the atmosphere itself can measure up.

THE HYBRID

Selective Hits On The AP Top 25

1) Alabama (55): Below is a visual recap of how the Ole Miss offense fared against the ‘Bama D.

batteringram

2) Oregon (5)
3) Clemson: Clemson Tom previews Clemson at Syracuse…

They scheduled us for their homecoming game? Did I read that right? Yup, I did…leave it to a Yankee to go and do something dumb. Seriously Syracuse, is this a marketing ploy? Y’all couldn’t beat us if old man McNabb suited up and played this weekend. Y’all have your running back talking trash on Twitter saying he’d take his No. 10 over Clemson’s No. 10 (Tajh Boyd). Look here, little man, just because your team couldn’t beat me and my friends in a pickup game, doesn’t mean you gotta talk crazy. Actually, keep it up — I’ll just make sure Vic Beasley, who’s second in the country in sacks, reads your tweet. Expect to meet Mr. Beasley often…yup it’s gonna be painful.

Speaking of Tajh Boyd, y’all better hide your homecoming queen. Tajh just has to point at her, wink, and say “BOOYA”. That’s all it takes…trust me, I’ve seen it happen. Also Cuse, should we expect the cast of Jersey Shore and Jägerbombs at halftime? I’m not trash talking to your students, I’m being serious. I envision the tailgates to look like the YouTube video “My New Haircut”.

You keep telling me on Twitter that you’re going to have a great home-field advantage, yet it isn’t even going to be sellout. You can’t even sell out your homecoming game against the No. 3 team in the country? That’s pathetic…almost as sad as your dome NOT having A/C. You not having A/C is the equivalent of me owning a pro team and NOT selling cold beers and boiled peanuts.

This weekend, the real “orange men” will be in your dome and will continue to keep the winning streak alive as we continue our quest to the BCS championship. FYI — you’re in NY, your mascot shouldn’t be the same mascot from the Orange Bowl.

I really thought he’d harp on the Carrier Dome being named after, well, Carrier Corporation (despite not having A/C). Oh well.

4) Ohio State: Guess who’s bizzack? Braxton Miller, party people. QB1 looked pretty solid against Wisco last week, and it’s hard not to think he won’t continue to improve as that knee continues to heal.

5) Stanford: Here’s all you need to know about Stanford’s coolness: QB1 Kevin Hogan (haha, that name) threw for a career high in their 55-17 victory over Washington State*, and that career high was … /drum roll … 286 yards. By the time you reach the end of this very sentence, the Oregon offense will have accrued 287 yards.

That said, those boys played some D. Behold one GIF which includes three separate hits of pure QB destruction. When the game mercifully ended, I looked a lot like this guy.

(* – yes, yes, my beloved Cougars lost 55-17, but there we two QB injuries, driving rain which favored Stanford’s boring power running, and the first half was actually a legit football game #homerexcuses)

6) Georgia: Man, Georgia balled out last week against LSU. All glory to QB Aaron Murray, who proved college football can feel like the NFL sometimes. My buddy Ricky also wanted me to write about Georgia RB Todd Gurley, but Murray’s performance totally overshadowed it — plus Gurley got hurt. So, no. But yeah, them Dogs. This was thee Game of the Year in college football until otherwise trumped.

7) Louisville: Blehhhhhhh.

8) Florida State: After FSU went down 14-3 against Boston College last week, I certainly thought their perfect season might be coming to an end. But then Winston threw for 330 yards and 4 TDs because he is The Hybrid’s unicorn.

9) Texas A&M: Two really interesting @DragonflyJonez tweets on Johnny Football Nation which I wanted to discuss. The first:

“Here’s the thing about Manziel. I honestly believe he catches a lot of shit because he embraces hip hop culture.”

Now, I saw this, and as someone who loves JF and hip-hop culture, I still thought it was a bit of a stretch. I mean, the autograph scandal doesn’t have anything to do with music, and neither do his polarizing on-field celebrations. But then I saw this second follow up tweet:

“No way Manziel receives all this backlash if he’s going to NHL games instead of Heat games and hanging with Tim McGraw instead of Rick Ross.”

And now, I’m not so sure. Sometimes you need opposite parallels to really drive home a point, and when I personally think about it, sitting courtside at Heat-Spurs certainly feels more risque to me than rinkside at Blackhawks-Bruins … even if the Spurs are still involved.

10) LSU: As impressed as I was with Aaron Murray’s game last week (probably, like, an ‘A’-type performance), I was even more taken back by how truly fantastic LSU QB Zach Mettenberger’s game was. Murray threw more TDs (4 to 3), but Mettenberger threw for more yards (372) on 23 completions for 10.1 yards a pop. That’s a first down every time! As cutthroat as college football can be, the silver lining is this was a game the Tigers could somewhat afford to lose. Georgia was at home, Georgia had a loss, and Georgia needed the in more; no shame in that. As for Mettenberger and the rest of the LSU season? I think it’s extremely encouraging and could be a nice springboard; dude was A++ out there last Saturday. So yeah: do not sleep on LSU, even in defeat.

And if you’re still not cheered up, Tigers fans, here’s a dog you painted to look like a tiger.

11) Oklahoma
12) UCLA
13) South Carolina: I love when a dominant team withstands some haymakers on the road and surges back after a halftime deficit. Enter: the Cocks’ game against UCF last week. They had a QB injury thrown in for good measure, too. Sure, it might have just been UCF, but South Carolina looked otherworldy as they reasserted themselves in the third and fourth quarter.

14) Miami (FL): Is their QB’s leg about to be healthy or about to fall off?

15) Washington
16) Northwestern: /Northwestern “Wildcat Growl” PA sound goes here

17) Baylor
18) Florida
19) Michigan: Coming off the bye week, is it time to not suck?

20) Texas Tech
21) Oklahoma State: *DOWN* goes Okie State. West Virginia be like “psssssshhhh.”

22) Arizona State: Uh oh.

23) Fresno State
24) Ole Miss: Come on boys, zero points? Zero?!

25) Maryland

Dropped from rankings

Notre Dame (22): The dream is over. RIP, Manti. RIP, Lennay Kekua. RIP… Touchdown Tommy.

Wisconsin (23): Sad to have seen it end so soon, but after last week’s redemption story, losing to Ohio State on the road, and now being out of the Top 25, it probably means…

ripwisconsinjustice

Having said that, Bret Bielema fell down during something called the Hog Walk last week. Let’s go to the video:

The best part, for me, was this caption of it on YouTube: “Bielema Falls on the Hog Walk. Bret Bielema Fail. Bret Bielema Hog Walk Fall or FAIL #karma #fat #jenbielema”

I can’t fully explain it, but the hashtagging of “fat” just felt like such an uppercut, even though the other parts of the description were also mean. And, you know, if things like this continue to happen, that means we never, ever have to truly say “farewell” to…

wisconsinjustice

WISCONSIN JUSTICE!!!!!

Any Sweet Games This Weekend?

Thursday

UCLA (12) at Utah: Undefeated UCLA on the road against 3-1 Utah? Sell me no more.

Friday Night Lights

N/A

Saturday

Louisville (7) at Temple: Next week, we’re gonna see “Louisville (6) at Marshmallow Tech” and not bat an eyelash, I’m tellin’ you.

Maryland (25) at Florida State (8): Is Maryland undefeated?

/checks

Maryland! All right! We got a 4-0 vs. 4-0 right here.

Texas Tech (20) at Kansas: T-Tech still undefeated…

Penn State at Indiana: Don’t mind this game, don’t have a damn thing to say about it.

Illinois at Nebraska: Somewhat promising teams who both possess a setback loss already this year. Kind of a bummer someone has to lose, but it’s also nice that the winner gets some of that momentum back.

Michigan State at Iowa: [boycotting Iowa's 2013 season]

Georgia State at Alabama (1): Usually I get mad at the Tide when they play bad teams, but after shutting out Ole Miss last week, I’d say this one is well earned. Go romp, gentlemen.

Georgia (6) at Tennessee: I mean, I guess…

Georgia Tech at Miami FL (14): My friend Paige, who graduated from The U, seems to think this is a big game.

Northern Illinois at Kent State: I show love to the Huskies, roof roof roof. They’re sitting at 4-0 overall with a 2-0 record against Big Ten teams. Their fans often talk about how they’d own the conference, and while I wouldn’t go that far, I’d certainly love for them to at least consider some upward mobility in the college football world. In conclusion, ROOF ROOF ROOF.

Minnesota at Michigan (19): I had some notes I wrote for myself when it came to previewing this week’s game. Actually, just one note. It read: “something about dragging ass”.

Seems apt enough to solely go with that.

Oregon (2) at Colorado: The Ducks are favored by 38.5. On the road.

QUACK QUACK QUACK

TCU at Oklahoma (11): TCU is 2-2, but their losses are against LSU and Texas Tech, so we’ll call this game promising until otherwise noted.

Arizona State vs. Notre Dame: I’m not particularly interested in this game, but it seems random enough without factoring in being played at Cowboys Stadium.

Ohio State (4) at Northwestern (16): Game of the Week.

I want to see something from the Wildcats. They don’t have to win, but they have to show something. People who don’t follow the horrible Big Ten closely seem to still view Northwestern as a plucky spread team that notches a few annoyingly relevant wins each year, but they’re a lot more sturdy than that. QB Kain Colter is fast and cool and good. RB/weapon Venric Mark is really fast and cool and good and back from an injury, which has kept him out basically all year. If both guys stay healthy, I expect a somewhat competitive game for at least three quarters. Eh, two quarters (Ohio State is favored by seven, after all).

West Virginia at Baylor (17): WFV had an upset last week, so let’s blindly assume they’ll stay in the mix to do the same this time around (even though Baylor is a Vegas darling).

Washington (15) at Stanford (5): The silver medal Game of the Week. While the rankings add up to 20, just like the tOSU-NW game, Stanford being at home takes some sizzle out of this matchup. We’ll learn a lot more about Washington than we will about Stanford with this game.

Wrapping It Up…

Anyone going to Evanston?

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