By Paul M. Banks
The media has certainly beaten a dead horse concerning the Cubs and 1908. But have you heard much about 1949? Itâ€™s the last time the Northwestern Wildcats won a postseason game. With college football bowl bids being more plentiful than Amy Winehouse legal infractions these days, itâ€™s quite a streak. Like the â€œLovable Losersâ€ in Wrigley Field, theyâ€™re another Chicago team that went through an embarrassingly LONG losing spell in the 60s, 70s and part of the 80s. However, in the last 25 years, both the â€˜Cats (â€™05, â€™03, â€™00, â€™96, â€™95) and Cubbies (â€™07, â€™03, â€™98, â€™89, â€˜84) have been to the postseason an uncharacteristic 5 times!
Is this, the sixth trip, the breakthrough year for both? Many college football experts forecasted Northwestern to be 8-4 this season and their schedule certainly seems to be conducive to obtaining this mark. They looked impressive in week one, as their defense -a unit provoking skepticism- held Syracuse to just 225 total yards. They Cats gained almost 500 yards on their way to a 30-10 victory. Remember, Illinois went to the Rose Bowl at 9-3 last season, so an NU upset somewhere along the line could actually mean a BCS bid. No, Seriously!Â The Wildcats are coached by Pat Fitzgerald, a native of suburban Orland Park, and All-American Linebacker/National Defensive player of the year during his playing days at Northwestern. His teams won back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1995 and 1996. Current star tailback Tyrell Sutton, a Doak Walker Award (best collegiate running back) candidate, is on pace to become the schoolâ€™s all-time leading rusher. That feat is quite impressive considering the schoolâ€™s tailback tradition includes recent or current NFL backs Jason Wright, Damien Anderson, Noah Herron and Darnell Autry.