Game Day Skull Session: Get Dumped Then, Northwestern

By Kevin Harrish on December 1, 2018 at 4:59 am
We will hoist the big sign.

We're just a few hours away from the best celebration moments of the year – large men running around with gigantic cardboard "B1G" signs as confetti rains.

The Buckeyes will once again own rights to that majestic celebration this year. The purple people will not take that from me, you can take that to the bank.

Honestly, I have nothing bad to say about Northwestern. Their head coach is a remarkably pleasant and complimentary human being, their academics are inarguably the top the conference, and their football team is just fun to root for.

Their only real crime is denying admittance to about 20 percent of Ohio State's student population.

I also respect the hell out of Northwestern's Big Ten West title run. The Wildcats couldn't be bothered to win a single non-conference game, losing to both Duke and Akron, but followed that up with an 8-1 Big Ten record.

That's like just not coming to class for the first three weeks and still ending up with an cool B+ – something a Northwestern student knows nothing about.

I like Northwestern. I really do. But unfortunately for my Purple Pals, they're lying innocently between Ohio State and a Big Ten Championship, and a possible shot at a possible playoff berth, and there's no way around – just right through.

And the result ain't going to be pretty.

Oh, and Hook 'Em!

Touchdown Tim Beck is about to lay waste to a Wagon Train.

12:00 #14 TEXAS vs. #5 OKLAHOMA OKLA (-8) ABC
3:30 MEMPHIS vs. #8 UCF UCF (-3) ABC
4:00 #1 ALABAMA vs. #4 GEORGIA BAMA (-12.5) CBS
8:00 #21 NORTHWESTERN vs. #6 OHIO STATE OSU (-14.5) FOX

Word of the Day: Prominence.


 VIDEO GUY TO RUNNING BACK. While the Buckeyes have been deliberating which former four or five-star recruit will see the field on a given play, Northwestern is out here giving meaningful snaps to a running back who started out as a video guy.

From Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune:

The journey from “video guy” to beloved member of the team has been no surprise to anyone who knows Hanaoka’s optimistic determination.

“I had eyes set on joining the team,” he said.


He didn’t have a roster spot when he arrived in Evanston after earning admission following a period on a wait list. He was offered a position on the video staff for the 2014 season while he waited for a walk-on spot. It wasn’t a requirement, but it was a way for him to grow familiar with the team — and the video team was short-staffed.

“He jumped at the opportunity,” said Darby Dunnagan, Northwestern’s director of video operations. “When you meet Chad, you can tell he’s a different person. He’s loving, kind, family-oriented. He was very determined to do the best.”


“I remember him when he was in the video office, and he seemed like a really nice kid,” Fitzgerald told “Then I went out to winter workouts, and he’s going through winter workouts and I’m going, ‘What’s the video kid doing, going through workouts?’ I didn’t even know his name. I didn’t get the memo that he was going to walk on. So shame on me.”

Honestly, I don't really know what to make of this.

On one hand, that's absolutely awesome for that kid. His story sounds like Rudy – except actually good.

On the other, what does it say about your football program if you've got a glorified video intern playing meaningful reps for your football team that's about to play for a conference title?

 ROOTING AGAINST THEIR OWN WILDCATS. I've seen some wild takes and opinions from all across these here Interwebs, but I don't recall ever seeing an op-ed from an alum openly rooting against its alma mater in hopes that the football program is disbanded sooner than later in the name of player safety.

But I should have known, if that's going to come from anywhere, it's going to come from Northwestern.

From alumna Carmel McCoubrey of the New York Times opinion section:

We would have been delighted if the team had won more games (it didn’t have a winning season until 1995), but we consoled ourselves by taking a sort of perverse pride in our losses. As the Wildcats were being pounded by Big Ten opponents — especially our downstate rival, the University of Illinois — the N.U. students in the stands would chant, “That’s all right, that’s O.K., you’re going to work for us one day!” Obnoxious and classist, yes, but satisfying.


And that was all right, that was O.K., because nobody went to Northwestern for its football prowess. I don’t recall ever meeting a fellow student who regretted taking a pass on Ohio State because the football there was better. If only a few of our players got jobs in the N.F.L., that was all right and O.K., too.

So it’s been disconcerting in recent years to see Northwestern be competitive in the Big Ten and regularly appear in bowl games. Right now, as The Times noted with bemusement last week, it leads its division, with a 5-1 conference record.


So it’s been much more than disconcerting that my alma mater’s success, and its big investment in the sport, comes as we are being reminded every day of the price football players pay in traumatic brain injury. The rash of chronic traumatic encephalopathy among N.F.L. players has gotten the most attention, but college players are hurt, too. Some colleges, like Dartmouth, are trying ways to reduce these injuries by eliminating tackling in practice and taking other measures, but they remain outliers.

News of Northwestern’s triumphs now just serves as a reminder that there are real young men behind those wins whose brains are being battered. I want the Wildcats to win less so they won’t play as much.

It’s also making me increasingly uncomfortable about giving to my old school. When I donate nowadays, I make sure to earmark my gift so it won’t be applied to the football team in some way, but I’m wondering if I’m still making myself complicit by donating at all to a university that is willing to risk its students’ health and happiness for a share of television revenue.

As if the Wildcats weren't enough of an underdog heading into Saturday's matchup with the team that's been the class of the Big Ten for the past 15 years, they've also got their own fans rooting against them.

 FIVE QUICK WINNERS. I went 1-4 last week, and one of those losses was the under in the Ohio State game. My total is now at an abysmal 28-36-1. I should probably just quit, because I can't even crack .500 with a perfect slate today, but as we've discussed, I ain't a quitter. So let's roll.

Texas +8 against Oklahoma

I'm going to be honest, this game scares the hell out of me because it's absolutely going to be back and forth, and it will probably come down to who has the ball last. But that's why I'm taking the free eight points. I think Texas can win this game with its ability to control the clock and force turnovers. And obviously anyone can move the ball against the revolving door that is Oklahoma's defense, which has somehow gotten even worse since the Longhorns hung 48 on it in early October.

Memphis +3 against UCF

I backed UCF when these teams met in the regular season and the Golden Knights barely escaped with their lives, and didn't cover the spread. In all honesty, they should have lost. Now, they're facing the same Memphis team without their star quarterback Mckenzie Milton. I like Memphis to get the win with their ability to control the clock and dominate on the ground, keeping the UCF offense on the sideline.

Alabama -12.5 against Georgia

Look, I know this is the squarest play there is. But it doesn't really matter how trendy and uncreative it is if it's right, and I think this is right. I think Alabama has the advantage in every aspect of the game and they win by at least two touchdowns.

Fresno State +1 against Boise State

I'm not going to overthink this. I thought Fresno was the better team last time and still believe they should have won that game, and believe they're still the better team this time. I know its on the blue turf and I know about Boise at home, but Fresno's defense is legitimately good. I think the Bulldogs shut down the Broncos and put up enough points to win straight up.

Ohio State -14.5 against Northwestern

Northwestern excels at keeping games closer than they should be kept, but I'm just not convinced this team is built to stop Ohio State's offense, or move the ball on the Buckeye defense. Ohio State's defensive line is a nightmare matchup for the Wildcats, and the only hope Northwestern has of Dwayne Haskins not slicing their secondary apart is pressuring him, and the slobs are coming off of their best game against a much better pass rush. I don't think this one is ever really close.

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