We’re a little late this week, mostly due to being too depressed to get our act together, and also partially because we still aren’t sure what our weekly routine is yet. From now on, we will likely have a recap of our thoughts of the game… You’ll be hearing thoughts from all four of us; here is Trent’s take on Saturday’s heartbreaking loss.
Let me preface this by saying that the West Lot Warriors hold no religious affiliation in any way, shape or form. We are a strictly non-profit group, dedicated to furthering the ideals of the Northwestern Wildcats and also to giving next-level tailgaters everywhere a voice.
There are times like these as a #B1GCats fan when you question your fandom, your spirituality and your purpose in this world. Is it all worth it? Does God just hate our team? What was that punt Brandon Williams!?
The mindset of a ‘Cats fan is sick and twisted, and it got even twistier this weekend with what we will call the “Hail Mary loss” to Michigan in the Big House. Up three, punting the ball from about midfield, to a Michigan team with about 20 seconds and no timeouts left, Northwestern flat-out blew the game. As I saw Devin Gardner’s Hail Mary deflect off the hands of NU’s Daniel Jones, up into the air and into the arms of Roy Roundtree, I went numb. I was not angry and not really all that shocked, as we were following the same fourth quarter script we’ve been following all year, and continuing to lose games in the most ridiculous fashion imaginable. Once we started overtime, I knew well enough the game was over.
After the game I was pissed at Fitz, pissed at the defense and pissed at myself for getting sucked into another game in which we snatched defeat out from between the jaws of victory. But then I realized something. Here we are, at 7-3 on the season, having just lost in OT to Michigan on the road in the biggest stadium in the United States. We also blew games at home to Nebraska by one, and on the road against Penn State. In all three losses, we were in the game ‘til the end, and put the fear of God into three big-name teams.
Here we are in 2012, and we no longer have to worry about getting blown out by our opponents (except against OSU, next year’s game can and will get ugly…). We’re in every game, against every team, and slowly but surely starting to change the public’s opinion about who the ‘Cats really are. All three of our losses easily could have gone the other way, and it’s easy to kick ourselves over what could easily have been a 10-0 season in a down Big 10 year. But you have to think about the progress our program has made over the past few decades, and then think about what exactly we’re trying to accomplish.
What is our team’s goal? Is it a national championship? A Big 10 title? If you asked ten ‘Cats fans I’d bet you’d get ten different answers. But no matter what the response, the way to reach that goal is to change public perception. We were the lovable losers, now we’re the lovable underdogs who will put the scare into your team but still end up losing. I call that progress, however slight. Our recruiting and talent is on a different level compared to 20 years ago, but we’re just not yet there from a mental standpoint.
We can’t expect our team to revolutionize itself overnight and consistently beat the Michigans and Ohio States of the world. These things take time, and there are and will continue to be growing pains and horrible, gut-wrenching losses. But we have to remember that we’re moving in the right direction, and slowly but surely making the public take notice. We have to remember that for all this suffering, it only takes one special season and one special team to turn our program around and lead us to that promised land (See “1995” AND “Bowl, Rose”). This was obviously not that special season, but 2012 has helped our team grow and mature. In fact, I always thought that our team next year would be better than this year, and now they’ve gained some critical in-game experience that will hopefully make them hungrier for next year’s opportunity. They’re not giving up, and neither should we.
Let’s keep the faith, and continue to take our tailgates to the next level.