This weekend, I took the trek back home to Chicago in part to have the chance to watch the Buckeyes take on Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday night. Entering the trip, I was hopeful of several things regarding the game: that I would be able to make it in the stadium free of charge and that the Bucks wouldn’t disappoint me and flush away their season in week 6…
As a college student, free admission to anything is a nice luxury. Actually, anything free of charge is a nice luxury seeing that most of us students are not on champagne budgets. Yet, our desires our often contradicted due to the fact that there really is no such thing as free (thanks to my high school Econ teacher, I unfortunately know this concept too well). Well, this is the story of my “free” trip to Ryan Field this Saturday night.
All I could imagine when thinking about a Northwestern pregame was a bunch of “overly smart” kids drinking finely-crafted beer and talking about the statistical chance that they have of winning the game later that night. If you have ever seen the movie “21 Jump Street”, I picture Northwestern students as the three kids who Channing Tatum became friends with in the science class in order to tap James Franco’s brother’s phone. If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, that’s ok. I sometimes wonder what it is that I’m even talking about.
I was actually surprised to see what the Wildcats were all about to start off the day. When I arrived in Evanston, there was a somewhat weak turnout to their “Fitzerland” tailgate scene. Comparable to a smaller Indiana tailgate, Fitzerland puts all the students in one field close to the stadium to all get rowdy together. If you ask me, this is the way to do it. Get as many students together as you can in one place, all enjoying themselves as a student population as opposed to all over the map prior to the game. Either way, this did not last long as the heavens decided to open up on us and we were forced to go into the basketball arena to stay clear of the storm.
I will mention that anytime a visiting fan decides to put himself in enemy territory, there is usually a significant amount of trash talk that is thrown their way. This was not necessarily the case this weekend, but I will point out the one “funny” thing that was thrown my way. While inside the basketball arena, a Northwestern student yelled my way to get my attention, saying “Hey, number 2!” (referring to my old school Malcolm Jenkins/Terrelle Pryor jersey). Once he had my attention, he held his keys out and told me to go park his car. Good chirp. Only acceptable at Northwestern. I’ll let it happen.
Now to the game
Like I mentioned before, getting into anything free of charge is a luxury. That is why I asked my buddy who goes to school there to try and get me a student ID so that I can go in for free (yes, this is how they do it at NW. Lucky bastards). The plan was set, and my wishes were going to be granted… until of course the ID chose not to scan and I was S.O.L. The guard quickly realized that the ID was not me, but was further reassured by my inability to spell the kids middle name.
Time for a new plan…
I quickly referred to The Art of Gatecrashing article posted several weeks ago and channeled my inner Connor Shields. My options were to either sneak in, or spend money on a ticket, which I have made clear was not an option.
I used a simple, yet effective gatecrashing strategy, which is to do two things: Fake a phone call and follow an older man pretending he was my father. This gave me two options when stopped by a security guard who realized that I did not get a ticket scanned.
The first was pretend that my dad had scanned my ticket and continue to walk through the gate. Didn’t work; I was stopped by this aged fellow. Next step was to pretend my dad was on the phone and offer for the guard to talk to him. This strategy worked quite effectively.
I offered the phone to the guard, knowing he’d decline, to show that I knew I belonged. He told me to stand to the side while my dad came to get me. Once this happened, I knew I was in. He stepped forward to help with another problem that arose and I took off.
I was in. The only problem now? My phone died the second I got into the stadium and I had zero idea of where my brother or any of my friends were sitting.
After looking through nearly every section, I gave up hope and determined it was going to be a long game to watch alone. I made my way up to the deck above the endzone and watched the game patiently as I hoped to somehow run into anybody that I knew… bad idea.
When that didn’t work, I relied on a fellow Buckeye standing beside me to let me borrow his phone. Unfortunately, my brother’s phone was off and I again, was S.O.L. After making several more phone calls, I eventually found a way to alert them to come and find me through several people. I wasted far too many of my new friend’s minutes, but I was found.
The game from there on out was fun and most importantly free, of course.
With that, what did I notice about the game?
Well, I think about 95% of fans in the stadium felt like throwing up about 8 different times during the second half. I haven’t experienced a game with such ups and downs that this one provided. After a brutal first half by the Buckeyes, I found myself wondering if this would be the end of the season, right before my own eyes.
If it weren’t for Carlos Hyde and a shot of luck, Columbus would be a pretty miserable place to be right now. Fortunately, the Bucks found a way to survive and that is really all that matters coming away from this game. I’m not going to look into the X’s and O’s and just accept the fact that the lucky number is 18 right now and move on.
Lessons Learned from Saturday:
1) Check the forecast and bring a raincoat when its supposed to rain.
2) Always have a backup plan
3) Go in with full charge
4) Northwestern is damn good and now the world knows it
On to the next one… Go Bucks.