As a four-touchdown underdog, Northwestern needs all the help it can get when it plays host to Ohio State Friday night.
The Buckeyes, fresh off a dominant 6-0 start and a well-timed bye week, have looked like one of college football's best teams and are aiming to keep the momentum going as they open the back half of their regular season schedule.
The Wildcats are coming off a bye week as well, but they limped into their open week with a 1-4 record while averaging just 14.4 points a game.
Before the season started, a number of experts thought this could be a potential trap game for Ohio State. Northwestern was expected to contend for a second consecutive West Division title.
But that's not how things shook out, and the oddsmakers don't like the Wildcats' chances of keeping the game within four touchdowns.
Naturally, one of the week's hot topics is Northwestern's notoriously long grass. Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic ($) had a good writeup on the Wildcats' unique strategy Wednesday.
“That might have been the longest grass I’ve ever played on between high school, college and the NFL,” (Joshua) Perry says. “I think it’s smart. Coach (Pat) Fitzgerald knows what he has in his program year-in and year-out. He’ll tell you, in his locker room, they’re not the fastest guys, the best athletes. But they’re smart and they play hard. If they let the grass grow a little longer and if he feels that’s an advantage against faster teams, he should have the right to do it. It’s such a small thing … but I think I might do the same thing if I were him.”
That prompted the response from Northwestern at the top of this article, which was funny and good. But considering the odds, why shouldn't Northwestern do everything it can to tilt things in its favor?
With that in mind, here's a checklist for Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats to knock the Buckeyes off their game Friday night.
1. Actual Gatorade Showers
You're used to seeing gatorade showers as a celebratory act, typically at the end of a big game and usually limited to a team's head coach.
This is a unique spin on that fun tradition, and it would happen before the game. Northwestern should find out where the Ohio State football team is staying, then hack the hotel's water system and replace the reserve with Gatorade.
When the Buckeyes shower, it'll be Gatorade coming through the water lines. They'll be sticky as h*ck for the game.
2. Block Ohio State Fans from Entering the Stadium
Northwestern has a hard time keeping visiting fans out of its stadium on a typical gameday, but that's doubly true when Ohio State comes to town. The last time the Buckeyes made the trip to Evanston, Ryan Field was a wave of Scarlet.
Looks on TV like Ryan Field at Northwestern is >70% Ohio State fans. pic.twitter.com/PHoBACKg5G— Lev Naginsky (@levnaginsky) October 6, 2013
What if the gatekeepers pretended like the tickets of anyone wearing Ohio State gear just didn't work. They can say something like, "You were either sold a fake ticket or you made this yourself in photoshop. Either way, I am performing a citizen's arrest and need you to wait in this collection area while I call the police."
Sure, blocking Ohio State fans from entering the stadium means there will be fewer than 15,000 people in the stands, but think about how weird that will be for the Buckeyes. They're used to playing in front of crowds seven times that size, so it would be another adjustment for the visiting squad.
In the locker room. On the visitor sideline. Just like... a lot of spiders.
4. Manipulate the Jumbotron
How effective would it be to use the Jumbotron as a distraction device? We all know how the Minnesota Gophers use their big screen:
What if Northwestern recorded video of Fitzgerald poorly attempting to do Fortnight dances or something? If that video existed, I'd be watching it right now instead of writing this article. If it could distract me from doing my work, wouldn't it do the same for the Buckeyes?
5. Audio Enhancements
It may sound trivial, but would it get in Justin Fields' head if there was a really loud fart noise piped through the stadium speakers every time he threw the ball? I think that would have some kind of psychological impact on the young quarterback.
Then on the flip side, every time Northwestern quarterback Hunter Johnson threw a pass, there would be an awesome explosion sound or maybe like pew pew laser sounds?
Just spitballing here, Northwestern. Don't say I didn't try to help.