This isn’t the end of the world

This is art
I choose to look at things optimistically

 

Is there such a thing as a statement loss? Because I think we just had ours.

Northwestern came up short against Ohio State, losing 30 – 40. How short?

Somewhere around half a yard.

If you watched the game, you know the moment I’m talking about. Northwestern was down 34 – 30 on Ohio State’s 34 yard line. 4th down, 2:43 left in the game, with about half a yard to go. We go for it, the snap is fumbled then recovered, and Kain Colter pushes forward to pick up what he can.

No gain on the play.

And that’s that. Regarding where the ref’s spotted the ball, there has been some controversy. Some believe that Colter picked up enough for a 1st down. He only had to move forward about half a yard, and he appeared to have progressed forward enough to keep the drive going. Fitz challenged, and the guys reviewing the play decided that there was not conclusive evidence to give Northwestern a first down.

And that’s that. What do I believe? I believe the referee spotted the ball too short, and that Ohio State got a few other calls that went their way. I also believe it doesn’t matter. When the opportunities for touchdowns presented themselves, we were forced by the Buckeyes to settle for field goals. A single touchdown in place of a single field goal would have made the game tied, 34 – 34 at that moment, and then, well, who knows what would have happened?

Portrait of the author as a young man. The time was 4:30 AM. This is what dedication looks like.
Portrait of the author as a young man. The time was 4:30 AM. This is what dedication looks like.

At the end of the game, what matters is who scores the most points. Ohio State scored more. Barely. Discounting that somewhat fluky fumble recovery in the end zone with no time on the clock, Ohio State beat us by just four points. And yes, I’m disregarding that last touchdown, because I am a fan of moral victories.

Despite the obvious pain of losing, Northwestern fans really have little to be upset about. This was a statement loss. We proved to the nation that we are a force to be reckoned with. We are not to be taken lightly, and we deserve that top 25 ranking that puts us among the best teams in the country. This is a team that can go toe to toe with anybody, and even though we lost, we have to be proud and optimistic coming out of this game.

Even though we lost, it isn’t the end of the world. We have a great, not good, great football team. Consider this: Ohio State did not score an offensive touchdown until 3:54 left in the 3rd quarter. This is the first game all season in which Ohio State at any moment trailed. Ohio State was ranked 4th in the nation.

Statistically, the game was very close. Ohio State outgained us by just 14 yards with 451 to our 437. Where they gave us fits on the ground, rushing for 248 yards (168 of which came from Carlos Hyde alone), we torched them through the air, putting up 343 passing yards against them. This game was no fluke. We, in my opinion, are just as good a team as Ohio State, and in some regards I would say we totally outplayed them.

The atmosphere throughout the day was electric. I woke up at 4 in the morning to go to the Gameday broadcast set up on the Lakefill, and when I got there, the crowd waiting to get in was already enormous. During the broadcast, Northwestern fans and students gave an amazing amount of energy. The stadium, despite the rain-soaked conditions, was jam-packed, and I’m happy to say the crowd did not appear to be majority Ohio State fans. The student section was the fullest I have ever seen it, and I don’t think I saw a single person leave before the game ended.

This was what a college football game was supposed to be like, and I hope that we can keep this energy going for future games.

Up next we have Wisconsin in Madison, where winning is never easy for the visiting team. Wisconsin lost to Ohio State by a touchdown, but looked much worse than we did against the Buckeyes. Though the transitive property does not apply to football, I like our chances against Wisconsin. We will not be favored, but I think Northwestern can pull off the win.

After the game, Ohio State coach Urban Mayer said about our team, “[they have] very, very good players. Borderline great players.”

I appreciate the compliment, Coach Meyer, but I must question what your definition of  “great” is. If you’re telling me the Kain Colter, Venric Mark, Tyler Scott, and all of our other standout players aren’t great, then I might have to start questioning your intellect. It takes great players on a great team to hang with Ohio State, and I say we have exactly that.

We are five games into the season. Despite the loss, we control our destiny now. The Legends division is very much ours to take. After that, we can get another crack at the Buckeyes in December to win the Big Ten.

We can still have a stellar season. This isn’t the end of the world, and frankly, from here on I really like our chances.

Go ‘Cats, and let’s get to the Rose Bowl.

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