Posted by Tom Fornelli
Going in to Saturday's game between Northwestern and Illinois at Wrigley Field, all the talk surrounded the way the field was situated inside the stadium, and the fact that both offenses would move towards the west end zone due to safety concerns about the right field wall located directly behind the east end zone.
Because of all this, people were saying that the first football game to be played at Wrigley Field would probably be the last. After seeing Illinois beat Northwestern 48-27, I'm not sure that should be the case. Were there some odd circumstances surrounding this game? Of course, when you're playing inside a 96-year old baseball stadium, things are going to get a bit weird.
The truth is, though, that once the game kicked off, there wasn't anything all that different from a game that had been played in Champaign or Evanston. Fact is, there may not have been as many people in the seats had this game been played at either school's home stadium. Chicago is a big city, with a large contingent of college football fans. Fans that, for the most part, don't have much of a college football selection to choose from in town. The most popular team in the city, Notre Dame, plays it's games over two hours away from the city.
So having this game at Wrigley Field, in a city that many Northwestern and Illinois students and alumni call home, gave those fans a chance to see a game and sleep in their own bed that night.
Besides, did having both teams move towards the west -- The Manifest Destiny Bowl -- really hurt the game? Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald didn't seem to think so.
"I don't know how it looked on television," said Fitzgerald. "It didn't affect the flow of our game."
There's no doubt that Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure would want to play in Wrigley one again, either. The Illinois running back brought back memories of Gale Sayers running around Wrigley Field, rushing for 330 yards and two touchdowns.
LeShoure would love to come back next season. "I think it'd be fun," he said. "Especially after this game."
I can't help but agree with him.