Thursday, November 7, 2013
All that said, something is rotten in the state of Evanston, and there's no real way I can put my finger on what, exactly, it is. It is probably not a curse, but there is some funky, supernatural nonsense that has completely thrown what was the most anticipated Northwestern football season in years entirely down the tubes. To wit: One month ago, Northwestern was undefeated, ranked No. 16 in the country, coming off a 9-3 season with its first bowl victory in more than six decades and had a 10-point second half lead on No. 3 Ohio State.
Then things began to unravel.
First Ohio State rallied for an undeserved win in Evanston. Then a week later Northwestern suffered a rough, but explainable blowout loss at Wisconsin, a notoriously difficult building in which to play. Then came an entirely inexcusable home loss to an inferior (or so we thought) Minnesota team and a mind-numbing overtime loss to Iowa that Northwestern probably should have won, but didn't because the team apparently forgot what football was for roughly 38 minutes of the game. Suddenly the Wildcats were unranked, down to .500 and, astonishingly, 0-4 in conference play.
And then Nebraska happened. This is a game that in so many ways I cannot begin to process not exactly because Northwestern lost despite outplaying Nebraska for most of the game in Lincoln, nor because of the fact that Northwestern missed opportunities to increase what was at one point a 14-point lead. It was how Northwestern lost in a way that was so discombobulating and disorienting that for the first five minutes after it happened I really had no idea what was going on. They say you can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but it seems on a day like this past Saturday, Northwestern managed to do the opposite.
There is no way to comprehend what is happening when your team loses on a last-second hail mary in a game it has mostly controlled and desperately needs to win. To do it against a team that has its mistake-prone backup quarterback leading the drive doubly so. To have that pass caught by a player who had never caught a pass in college before this play brings a whole new dimension. It is confusing, distressing and downright numbing.
How on Earth does something like this happen?
In short, it really can't be explained without the supernatural, and while I still don't really believe in the supernatural, I see no other reason or explanation for such a totally bizarre and gut-punching confluence of events. When I sit back and think about it, however, I get a strange sense of calm and easiness about me because rather than be depressed or upset or wonder what could have been like I did last year after each of NU's three losses came with a double-digit lead lost in the second half, I have realized there is nothing you can do.
"This will not end how you want it to. This is not going to be your year. The cosmos have made their decision."
And that's it. There is no other answer than I can find, but knowing I am helpless to stop the tidal wave (and seeing that Northwestern is apparently doing its best to show it can't help itself from making this season a disaster either) I will simply sit back on my Saturdays now and relax with a pitcher of beer and some buffalo wings and think, "You know, this isn't going go the way I had hoped, but at least I can enjoy beer, friends and some football."
There really is nothing else you can do. After witnessing what happened this past Saturday, I now know that. The important thing, is that I'm fine with it.
Last week: 5-8-0
MINNESOTA (+2.5) over Washington
Seattle (-6) over ATLANTA
Detroit (-2.5) over CHICAGO
GREEN BAY (-1) over Philadelphia
TENNESSEE (-12) over Jacksonville
NY GIANTS (-7) over Oakland
PITTSBURGH (-3) over Buffalo
BALTIMORE (+1.5) over Cincinnati
SAN FRANCISCO (-6) over Carolina
Houston (+2.5) over ARIZONA
Denver (-7) over SAN DIEGO
NEW ORLEANS (-7) over Dallas
Miami (-2.5) over TAMPA BAY