Since moving to Connecticut, one of the things I miss most about the North Shore of Chicago is going to Northwestern University football games and cheering on my beloved Wildcats.
The Wildcats are perennial underdogs who manage to surprise even ranked teams every now and then. They’re from a school where academics is stressed over athletics. The players are smart students who win games with grit and determination.
Late coach Randy Walker used to say that the thing he was most proud of was the graduation rate of his student players, not how many ended up in the NFL.
Walker’s protégé and current coach Pat Fitzgerald has proudly carried on those traditions.
Northwestern (7-4) is having a great season this year. It will finish the regular season at home in Evanston, Ill., against Wisconsin (8-2) on Saturday. The two Big 10 teams haven’t met since the 2006 season. They are tied 5-5 in their last 10 meetings.
It should be a good game.
Either way, Northwestern is poised to make a post-season bowl appearance. The Champs Sports, Valero Alamo and Insight bowls are the leading contenders to host the Wildcats.
Photo: Northwestern’s Zeke Markshausen reaches for the end zone and scores in NU’s 21-6 victory over Illinois on Nov. 14 in Champaign, Ill. (Full disclosure: I’m a graduate of both schools.) Photo from NUsports.com.