I’m not going to go. Are we even that good?” I overheard this telling comment regarding Saturday’s football game at the Arch on Tuesday.
I shouldn’t even have to write this column. You should already know that this Saturday, Northwestern’s football team (ranked No. 22 in the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll) will host Michigan State (ranked No. 23 AP; No. 19 USA TODAY) in a pivotal showdown at Ryan Field. I shouldn’t have to remind you that NU (5-0) is off to its best start in more 40 years, making Saturday’s game the biggest of the season. You should already know that the kickoff was moved to 2:30 p.m. so that the game could be shown on ESPN2.
Yet, to many, this is new information. Why should I have to beg you to show up to support our football team? It can’t be because top academic institutions have low football expectations. Vanderbilt’s stadium looked pretty packed during its victory over Auburn last week. If you went to any other school in the Big Ten, you wouldn’t think twice about skipping the game. Not one of Michigan Stadium’s 106,201 seats have been empty this year, and this year’s team is no powerhouse.
The problem is rooted in something far greater: NU students are convinced that our football program isn’t up to par. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Since 1995, NU’s five bowl games and three Big Ten championships have made them more than competitive. Consider that our school has more titles in that time span than every other school in the conference except for Michigan and Ohio State, despite the fact that we are competing against public schools four times our size.
I invite you to take a closer look at the team you may think isn’t worth showing up for on Saturday.
No, the team does not automatically become amazing just because you attend the games. But having a majority of NU fans at a conference home game won’t hurt.
Maybe you’re a senior who has never been to a game, a junior who doesn’t like football, a sophomore who grew up cheering for another team or a freshman who is new to the college football scene – whomever you are, I’m inviting you to the game on Saturday. Visit the parking lot tailgates, check out Wildcat Alley and line up at Gate T.
Unlike other Big Ten schools where students have to pay for games, NU will let you in for free with a valid WildCARD.
Appreciate our run-and-gun spread offense led by C.J. Bacher, Tyrell Sutton and Eric Peterman and our new-look defense as Corey Wootton and Malcolm Arrington try to stop one of the best running attacks in the conference. Most importantly, I’m asking you to help a good program that aspires to be great – a program that needs and frankly, deserves your support.
I can’t guarantee that we’ll win, but you’ll have fun and at the very least, we’ll be able to throw some “state school!” chants into the mix.
See you on Saturday.
Weinberg senior Adam Ganjani can be reached at [email protected]