Things were different this summer, where I had the luxury of living in sunny southern California. The gorgeous weather in Los Angeles was always in the 80s with absolutely no humidity. Mosquitoes were anything but your mortal enemies of summer, since they were actually auditioning for movie roles instead of trying to bite up your skin. Go figure. It rained only once, and even though it was simply a slight drizzle, the entire southern California population was up in arms.
(This was a complete 180-degree change from my usual summers in the Midwest, when the mugginess prevented me from leaving my basement because I was literally stuck to my couch with a permanent stench of OFF was fixated to my body.)
But if I wasn’t enjoying a session on a cozy beach in la-la land, I was stuck in traffic. And I actually learned something from sitting through copious amounts of traffic jams in my rented Daewoo, which resembled a light-blue egg with four wheels. Nearly half the cars in L.A. had Laker flags on their cars during NBA Finals time. Once the Laker-talk ended, all the flags disappeared. Why? Because people wanted to take part in the hype the Lakers received during the finals.
This brings me to the hype surrounding the college football season, and one team in particular — Northwestern.
Yes, they are picked to win the Big Ten. Fine, they are ranked No. 16 and No. 20 in the AP and Coaches poll, respectively. And supposedly Damien Anderson is a front-runner for the Heisman.
They are hyped simply because NU had a surprisingly good season in 2000. But I will give you a guarantee that Northwestern will not be as good this season. In fact, I guess they will end up somewhere between eighth and 11th place in the Big Ten.
But, you say, they tied for the Big Ten title last year. But the Wildcats should have ended up with a 5-7 record instead of an 8-4 record.
In three big games last year, the ball luckily bounced their way. Against Wisconsin, the Wildcats were down three separate times in the fourth quarter, but costly UW turnovers led to the NU comeback. Not only that, but NU was lucky for Wisconsin’s suspensions in the the Shoe Box debacle. Instead of Jamar Fletcher at cornerback, the Badgers boasted a young and inexperienced secondary. Zak Kustok had his way with B.J. Tucker and company.
Against Minnesota, NU won on a last second Hail Mary for a touchdown. How often does that happen? And, of course, everybody remembers Michigan. The Wolverines could have simply ran the clock out, but Anthony Thomas fumbled the ball in the final minute, leading to an NU-stirring victory.
After losing to lowly Iowa the following week, NU beat a hampered Illini squad. And they were anything but the Big Ten’s best in the Alamo Bowl, losing 66-17 to Nebraska.
Northwestern is not as good as everybody wants to think. They were lucky last season because no one saw them coming. This year, everybody knows the offense revolves around an explosive Anderson and Kustok. If one of them goes down, expect a long season in Evanston.
Plus, the defense was atrocious last season and will be worse this year with an extreme lack of experience on the defensive front.
The Wildcats may be enjoying the hype right now, but as soon as they start slipping in the Big Ten, people will once again remember the cellar-dwellers that they have historically been.