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Know your foe: Northwestern

Two years ago we went 8-5. I made these. Last year we went 5-7 and I didn't make these. Do you think we should start doing these again? No? Too bad. I'm making these again. Let's start with our very first opponent, that school in a suburb of Chicago, Northwestern University! (Also someone please tell me how to format pictures into the text).

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History: Founded in 1851 by some Chicago investors, Northwestern is the oldest school of its kind in Illinois. It was named after the "Northwest Territory" which Illinois was once a part of (before it was subdivided into states). It was founded as a private, non-sectarian school, which it remains to this day. The land was purchased by John Evans along Lake Michigan and the city of Evanston was developed around the school. Funds for construction were made available by "perpetual scholarships," where someone could purchase free tuition for himself and his heirs for $100. Women were admitted beginning in 1869. The famous Dearborn Observatory of the Chicago Astronomical Society was built in 1889, and in 1917 they built a satellite campus in Chicago.

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There were talks in the 1930s of Northwestern merging with the University of Chicago because of the Depression (with both schools having fat endowments there's an even fatter chance of that happening during this recession). However, the proposal was met with backlash from Northwestern's faculty and students so it never happened. In 1942 a new building was built for NU's engineering school (then known as "Northwestern Tech," sounds like a grade C school to me but it's supposedly very good), and in 1945 a number of Northwestern doctors formed a WWII hospital.

Location: Evanston, Illinois. This place was uninhabited for a long time, despite being next to Chicago (but it was still habitable, unlike most of New Jersey). A hamlet was established in 1850 called "Ridgeville" and Northwestern decided to form an incorporated town called Evanston after Northwestern's founder John Evans. Evanston was incorporated in 1863 and quickly gobbled up neighboring hamlets. Evanston was dry until 1972.

Evanston was the birthplace of Tinkertoys and claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae. Clayton Mark and Company was the largest employer for many years, but, like most college towns, guess who the largest employer of Evanston is now!

Academics: Northwestern has about 8K undergrads and 10K grads, and is ranked 12th nationally by US News, which makes them the highest ranked school we're playing this year. Being in the Big Ten they are of course in the AAU. Northwestern is well known for its engineering school and is very prestigious in the sciences as well, particularly materials science (whatever that is, and I'm an engineer even!).

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Notable Alumni: A lot. A helluva lot. Pictured above is Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Showing his face tells you the large number of people who went there. Also in politics are several failed presidential candidates from William Jennings Bryan to George McGovern. Also from Northwestern is current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The founders of Match.com and US Steel (not Andrew Carnegie, the other guy) and the first ever open heart surgeon went to Northwestern, as did daytime venting target Jerry Springer. Stephen Colbert learned how to make conspiracy theories at Northwestern. And our busom babe from Northwestern? She thinks the dingo ate your baby. Oh, and there's that man again! Yes, Northwestern gave us the voice of college football himself.

Pageantry: Northwestern's mascot is the Wildcat. This is a very boring mascot (so many schools (at least 24) have it as their mascot). In Division 1A (I'm NOT going to call it FBS), familiar postseason foe Kansas State, Arizona (who we really need to play in basketball) and of course the dreaded NBDL team from Lexington (aka "Kentucky) are all called the Wildcats. Other D1 schools with the Wildcat mascot are Bethune-Cookman (FL), Davidson, New Hampshire, Weber State (UT) and of course our old basketball (and temporary new lacrosse) "friend" Villanova. Other schools include Abilene Christian (TX), Baker (KS), Bethel (TN), Cazenovia (NY), Chico State (CA), Central Washington, Culver-Stockton (MO), Indiana Wesleyan, Linfield (OR), Northern Michigan, Penn College, Randolph (VA), St. Catherine (MN), SUNY Tech, and Wayne State (NE).

Northwestern became the Wildcats in 1924; before then they were called the "Fighting Methodists" (hysterically, they were always non-sectarian). However, Wallace Abbey from the Chicago Tribune described Northwestern's football team as "wildcats" during a 1924 loss to the University of Chicago. The name stuck and the school went with it.

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Not only is Northwestern's nickname unoriginal, so is the name of the guy who wears the sweaty, furry, suit. Willie the Wildcat apparently does double duty for Northwestern and Kansas State. Before Willie they brought in a live bear cub named Furpaw who was retired after one losing season. Willie was created for promotional material in the 1930s but there was no costumed mascot until 1947 when some frat boys decided to dress up as him for a homecoming parade (of course, now they probably dress up as kegs and beer cans).

Northwestern's official colors are purple and white (although really only purple is "official"), which they share with Central Arkansas, Holy Cross, Weber State, and TCU. For non-D1 schools, Scranton uses this combination. Not surprisingly, Kansas State uses purple and white as well, but their purple is called Royal Purple.

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Northwestern's logo history is pretty simple - the logo on the left was used since 1981 and the logo on the right hasn't been in use since 1967. The logo they used between the two periods was red and said "Watch the Wildcats." They also used a "Chicago's College team" logo in 2001.

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Before the 1981 logo was revealed, Northwestern used some variation of the "NU" logo throughout the 70s, before then they just used helmets. In the late 70s they experimented with new helmets before settling on the current design in 1982.

Northwestern's fight song is called "Go U Northwestern." The marching band was formed in 1911.

GO U NORTHWESTERN

Go U Northwestern!
Break right through that line.
With our colors flying,
We will cheer you all the time,
U Rah! Rah!
Go! U Northwestern!
Fight for victory,
Spread far the fame of our fair name,
Go! Northwestern win that game.

(Whistle)

(Yell) Go! Northwestern Go!

(Whistle)

(Yell) Go! Northwestern Go!
Hit 'em hard!
Hit 'em low!
Go! Northwestern Go!

(Repeat chorus)

Other popular songs include "March of the Steelmen" played at the end of games

Athletics: Northwestern was a charter member of the Big Ten in 1896. They have played only in that conference since then in every single sport except for women's lacrosse which plays in the American Lacrosse Conference.

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Northwestern has played football since 1876 and play their home games at Ryan Field which has been their home since 1926. Their first major win was a 10-8 win over Michigan in 1892 and were mildly successful in the early years of the Big Ten (then the Western Conference). They won conference championships in 1903, 1926, 1930, 1931, and 1936, although the early 30s had them share titles. Since then the football program has been in a lull until the mid 90s when they won back to back titles in 1995 and 1996, the former year winning it outright and going to their second Rose Bowl.....where they promptly lost to USC. However, they did have linebacker Pat Fitzgerald who is now their head coach. Their most recent title was in 2000.

Northwestern has only been to ten bowl games over their history; their only win was the 1948 Rose Bowl over Cal. Non-Rose Bowl losses include the 1996 Citrus Bowl to Tennessee, the 2000 Alamo Bowl to Nebraska, the 2003 Motor City Bowl to Bowling Green, the 2005 Sun Bowl to UCLA, the 2008 Alamo Bowl to Mizzou, the 2009 Hall of Fame Bowl to Auburn, the 2010 TicketCity Bowl to Texas Tech, and the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl to Texas A&M.

Northwestern's basketball history? They won two Big Ten titles in 1931 and 1933, and they hosted the first ever NCAA Final Four in their gym. Beyond that? Nothing! They're so futile in hoops that they're the only BCS school to never even play in the NCAAs. What a dubious distinction!

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Northwestern's major athletics success comes in the form of chicks with sticks. In fact, the lady Wildcats have been so dominant on the lacrosse field that they won seven of the past eight NCAA titles (2010 was the only year they lost). Their first team was in 1981, although they didn't play from 1993-2001. The current coach is Kelly Amonte Hiller.

With their success in the women's game you'd think they'd field a men's team by now. Alas, they don't. YOU CAN'T RESIST.

Rival: Being in the dregs of the Big Ten in most sports, they don't really have one. My ESPN College Football Encyclopedia isn't on me because I'm visiting the rents right now so I don't have a list. I'm going to guess that they had a big rivalry with the University of Chicago up until 1940 when they left the B1G. Now, Illinois is probably the best they can do (although they do have a trophy game that they play (it used to be called the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, but our PC friends at the NCAA forced them to abandon it, never mind that there is a school called the Sweet Sioux in North Dakota), and Illinois leads the series 54-46-5 (despite Illinois much less storied football history). Michigan probably makes sense as a rival as well considering they're the top two academic schools in the B1G.

Outlook: Everyone's predicting that this game will be close. I'm hoping for a bit of a defensive struggle here, although it would be nice to see Nassib return to form. This team has the capability to do big things now that everyone's healthy and more experience. Let's avenge the lady Orange lax team! G'ORANGE!

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