Opinion: Why Northwestern is Important

It’s easy, both as a fan and a player, to get excited about games that mean so much to your season and your school. We all love the games against Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, and others. But it is hard to get excited for the games against teams like Northwestern, who are at the bottom of the Legends Division. However, next week’s Saturday’s game in Evanston on the November 23 is one that Spartan Nation will have to get excited for because this is an important game…for both teams.

For the Northwestern Wildcats, this season has seen it all: hype, dominance, the huge heavyweight game and the uncontrollable slide down the Legends Division ladder. The Cats are coming off of a heartbreaking loss at home against the University of Michigan. In a game where no touchdowns were scored until the overtime sessions, Northwestern knows it let one slip away. If the Wildcats don’t win out, then they will be ineligible for a bowl for the first time in seven years. Such a tumultuous turn might be enough to call head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s future in Evanston into question.

For the Cats, Saturday’s game against the Spartans is all about pride, they HAVE to get a win, not only for their postseason hopes, but also for their fans as well. The Wildcats have their backs against the wall, and if there is anything we know about wild animals it is that they are always ferocious when cornered.

For MSU, this is a game that, on paper, looks like a mismatch. They are coming off a historic win against Nebraska, and have a the Legends Division in a chokehold. But let’s not fool ourselves, the Spartans have NOT clinched the division. Minnesota is still in the race, and the Golden Gophers have made it a habit of upsetting teams this season.

An MSU loss to Northwestern would open the door for the Gophers’ greatest upset of the season, knocking off MSU, in East Lansing, in the last game of the regular season. If I were the Spartans, I would want to keep that door shut.

This game is a huge opportunity for MSU, as not only will they be able to clinch the Legends and drive a killing blow into the Wildcats’ disappointing season, but they can send a message to the Ohio State Buckeyes that the Spartan’s are going to Pasadena come hell or high water.


Jason Ruff is a multi-media journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Michigan State Athletics