Wrigley Field Has Been Unkind to Northwestern Thus Far


It was 11 years, to the exact day actually that Northwestern lost 48-27 to Illinois in Wrigley Field. A decade has passed and the stadium has been renovated and improved upon, but it was a very bad result, once again, for the home team as Northwestern fell 32-14 to Purdue. The Boilermakers covered, and if you’re into Betting sites, then you know the visitors were favored by 11 points, with even more bullish sentiment on the money lines.

While the sample size is indeed small, just two games, NU has now been outscored, on aggregate by 39 points in the two Wrigley affairs. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald rotated his quarterbacks, but it didn’t help to jumpstart the offense at all.

Fitzgerald started Andrew Marty, then brought in Ryan Hilinski, before later going back to Marty.

“We turned the ball over a bunch, and we wanted to play to the guys’ strengths, to try and keep Purdue off balance,” Fitzgerald said of his QB rotation. Marty was 10-14-93, 1 TD, 0 INT while Hilinski was 8-11, 66, 0 TD, 1 INT.

Playing in Wrigley Field is very unique, for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is that the field goes east-west, not north-south. Fitz said that the layout switch wasn’t really a factor.

“It wasn’t a discussion in our prep,” he said postgame.

“It was more about the wind direction, it was blowing out to center, which didn’t help us.”

We also talked about “being a good north-south runner,” and how that translates to being a good “east-west runner,” in this case, with Northwestern offensive line coach Kurt Anderson the day before the game.

“That’s a great question, it’s a big boxy thing so once you step in between the white lines I don’t think anyone cares which way the direction goes,” he responded.

“I’m sure if you talk to the specialists and the kickers, in terms of the winds and crosswinds, it’ll be blowing out to left tomorrow.”

The player of the game was no doubt Milton Wright, who had career highs in catches (8), yards (213) and TD receptions (3).

It was indeed Paradise Found and Paradise Regained for Milton, who took advantage of a Northwestern secondary that was fixated on trying to stop David Bell.

While Purdue won comfortably, Evan Hull was the star man for the Cats in the Wildcats Classic, scoring a touchdown and running “east-west” for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“The environment was amazing,” Hull said afterward. “Just the history of Wrigley Field, the facilities are amazing- just to be a part of it, win or lose, was amazing.”

Added team captain Joe Spivak:

“Obviously it stings to lose, and when that stops stinging, you get problems, but it’s a blessing to be out there, and it was pretty bad ass out there. The pomp and circumstance was amazing.

“It would have been great to get that dub, but any day you can play football is a blessing.”

northwestern football wrigley field

Both sides will conclude their season next Saturday with in-state rivalry games. Purdue, after their battle with Indiana, will go on to a bowl game while NU has been eliminated from the postseason

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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