There was something in the air in South Bend – something that has been brewing for many years that felt like an omen of some sort. Was it the snowfall surrounding the Notre Dame Stadium? Or, was it the fact that the Golden Dome had gone dark all night and wasn’t lit up as it usually is during game time? Whatever it was, it surely brought the past to the present for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Facing one’s demons of the past is never an easy task, not even for Notre Dame. After coming off a sobering loss to Arizona State last week, which practically shattered their dreams of attending the College Football Playoff, the Fighting Irish fell even further with a disappointing 43-40 loss to their olden rival, the Northwestern Wildcats.
History has repeated itself in South Bend. The last time the two teams faced each other was back in 1995. During that game, the Wildcats pulled off a shocking upset by beating the Fighting Irish 17-15. The moment was so monumental that the Chicago Sun Times pegged it as “the Upset of the Century.”
No one wants to be on the receiving end of such a statement; imagine living with it for 19 years. The only thing that’s worse than the torture of remembering such a past is actually reliving it all over again.
The Wildcats came into the game with a two-part determination. First of course, they wanted to put a whipping on Notre Dame, their longtime rival. Secondly, they knew how important it was for them to win out in order to become bowl eligible. This motivation was quite apparent by the way they constantly went after the Fighting Irish on both sides of the ball.
Yes, the Wildcats were plagued with their fair share of mistakes, but they kept pushing forward until the very end – and it paid off in dividends.This will be a game for the Northwestern alumni to remember for a long time, including coach Pat Fitzgerald, who played as a linebacker for the Wildcats during their 1995 upset over Notre Dame.