Monday, December 29, 2008

Alamo Bowl Mania: I'll Watch, Will You?

Say this for Northwestern: They generally make their bowl games fun to watch. In most cases, it's because of a porous defense and a pretty good offense.

This year, NU's D was actually its strength. But even a revamped D won't be able to contain Missouri's ridiculous Daniel-Maclin-Coffman spread offense.

What could make it interesting -- if Mizzou doesn't go up 28 after the first quarter -- is that Mizzou's D is hardly hardy; NU could put up points, too.

It is Northwestern's second trip to the Alamo Bowl; in 2000, the Wildcats were absolutely shellacked by Nebraska, 66-17. Some disappointed teams phone it in; the Huskers did the opposite.

Northwestern also appeared in the 2003 Motor City Bowl, where they lost a close one to Bowling Green (and the spectacular Josh Harris), the year after BGSU's Urban Meyer left for Utah.

And who can forget Northwestern's 2005 appearance in the Sun Bowl, where they had a huge early lead (22-0 in the 1st quarter) but lost to UCLA, 50-38, in what was widely regarded as the best non-BCS bowl game of that season.

I have only attended one Northwestern bowl game in person, and it's the only one that matters: The 1996 Rose Bowl, following the miracle 1995 season. Most NU fans put going to that Rose Bowl at the top of their non-marriage, non-birth-of-kid moments in their lives.

(It says a lot that it didn't matter that NU lost to cursed Keyshawn Johnson and USC. Well, ALMOST didn't matter. The loss still stings; if Northwestern had won that game, there is a very good chance they would have finished the 1995 season ranked No. 2, behind that all-time-great Nebraska team... and, ironically, ahead of Florida, which got smoked by those Huskers.)

It also says a lot that in the 13 years since, bowl games for Northwestern aren't a novelty -- they are expected. Now, all they have to do is finally win one.

I have very little faith that this will be the year -- Missouri's offense is just too awesome. But a 9-win season culminating in a bowl game alone in primetime against a team with preseason national-title aspirations is a season for NU fans to be happy about, no matter the bowl result.

-- D.S.


Richard K. said...

I'm sorry, I thought you were a Florida fan.

John said...

What a great game. It's too bad that Northwestern had to lose. They played tough.

Neil Johnson said...

sorry dan. NU played well, not well enough to win, but they did get screwed by the late fumble call. his arm was moving forward and if the refs on the field called it an incomplete pass there is no way it is overturned.