To preview this weekend's game between the Boston College Eagles and Northwestern Wildcats, we welcome back Sippin' On Purple's Rodger Sherman to the blog for Five Good Minutes. Our questions and his answers below.
BC Interruption: When the NCAA ruled in favor of USC transfer Kyle Prater's favor, allowing him to play this season, I feared for the welfare of the Boston College secondary. How has Prater performed so far this season? Has he lived up to the lofty expectations heaped upon him in being the heir apparent to 1,000-yard receiver Jeremy Ebert?
Sippin' On Purple: He hasn't yet. To quickly summarize, Prater was considered the No. 1 receiver in the country in every recruiting service out of high school out of suburban Chicago two years ago, fast forward past some injuries and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee being more than enough for USC at the wide out spot and some undisclosed family issues that convinced the NCAA to give him a waiver to play close to home, and he's at Northwestern. He only has five receptions for 35 yards, but he's still the same 6-foot-5 freak athlete with unbelievable hands he was in high school. He's a step slower than we might have thought, but I think he'll have three productive seasons at NU.
BCI: The Big Ten is 2-7 in non-conference games against BCS opponents, with both wins claimed by ... Northwestern? How has the excitement / buzz surrounding the program increased based on NU's fast start? Given the fact that the rest of the B1G has stunk up the joint early on, can Northwestern actually win the ... what division are you in again? and make it to the Big Ten title game this season?
SoP: Although NU is the only team in the country with two wins over BCS teams, both games were very close, and neither team is expected to be a world-beater this year, so I'd say expectations were tempered. Everybody knew Northwestern had a chance to go 4-0 out of conference, and with a victory over y'alls' punk asses, we'd be essentially there. Many predicted NU would have a good season thought NU could start 7-0 or 6-1 and finish with eight wins or so.
I won't tell you the name of our division in part due to embarrassment and in part because I refuse to acknowledge your question until you provide me a suitable acronym for which one is "Atlantic", which one is "Coastal", and how the difference between the Atlantic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean's coast somehow makes for two different divisions, but suffice it to say, Northwestern is in the one with Michigan State, the other school in the conference that hasn't really sullied its season yet. If NU was in the conference with ineligible States Ohio and Penn, we could talk.
BCI: When watching last weekend's NU-Vanderbilt game, couldn't help but notice a LOT of empty seats at Ryan Field. And that was a night game. I realize that Northwestern has one of the latest starts in the year and school won't have started before Saturday's game against BC. But I was curious whether you thought more or less than 31k fans would show up for the game this weekend?
SoP: I've gotta say, the engineering behind building a glass house capable of seating the 30,685 [ed. note -- try 39,262 vs. Miami, or 88 percent cap. but whatevs] who attended Boston College's home opener is impressive, but regardless, chill with all that stone throwing.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, no, I'm not surprised with the attendance. In fact, that was the highest attended home opener in a few years - with a quick peek, last year's had 28,000 fans, the year before 25,000, although those were both against FCS teams. NU's attendance has been slowly upticking behind a building program and an athletic department that for the first time in school history, values marketing the team to the Chicago area, but it's a slow climb from irrelevancy to sold-out non-conference games. Especially without students.
BCI: If you had to pick one rap song to describe each of Northwestern football's 12 opponents this year, Boston College is _________.
SoP: My initial instinct was to go with "The Chase, Part II" by A Tribe Called Quest simply because of the fact that this is the second time we'll be facing off against Chase Rettig. This was confirmed by Q-Tip's claim that he will make a girl showering with him "spiffy in a jiff" after scrubbing her back and flossing her butt-crack, clearly a weird, unnecessarily sexual 1993-era shoutout to a newborn Spiffy Evans, as well as Phife's "your styles are incomplete, just like Vinny Testaverde!" - foreshadowing Rettig's performance with a reference to a fellow ACC QB. The song is also littered with references to how we will rock your body and turn the party out, both of which I expect from the Wildcats. ATCQ hasn't been amongst my favorite rap acts since I turned like 16, but I still appreciate a listen for a while.
BCI: What would it take for you to switch head coaches whose nickname ends in 'Z' with us? What do we have to throw in to a Fitz for Spaz trade to sweeten the deal?
SoP: Let's start with a basketball coach who has been to the NCAA Tournament recently, even if it was with another team, even if that team was in the Ivy Lea... wait, we tried that one already with Bill Carmody. Crap.
I'm a New York sports fan, so I'll settle for a once-a-year schadenfreude parade in years where the Red Sox don't make the playoffs through the streets of Boston on a float where I am allowed to commit any number of petty crimes such as indecent exposure and the like. As a Yankees fan, I am also a self-centered jerk who thinks the world revolves around me, so I don't really care that the rest of the Northwestern fanbase loses massively on this deal, especially my Red Sox fan cowriter, Loretta8.
(In seriousness, though, although Fitz has no rings, he's made NU a consistent winner and is the best thing to happen to NU's fanbase since Pat Fitzgerald the player, while judging from the #FIRESPAZ tweets I see, I think that that guy isn't. So it would take a great deal.)
BCI: We are hearing conflicting reports about The Keg of Evanston, the BC version of MaryAnn's. Opened or closed? What's the story there? Should visitng fans' pre-game include crawling around the off-campus bars or throwing a proper tailgate?
SoP: TKOE was, for many years, was the premier Northwestern bar for questionable security measures on underaged drinkers, particularly on Mondays and Saturdays. Evanston, the town that invented prohibition, decided to once again get on its puritanical high horse and stripped the bar of its liquor license, just months after trying to press charges on any NU students living in apartments with more than three for violating century-old housing code meant to prevent brothels and cracking down on Evanston's most popular liquor store. There was public outcry and mourning, but the bar appealed the ruling, saying that they would enhance their security efforts and has been operating since as a bar that you have to be 21 to get into. Alas, despite Evanston's efforts, there are still THOUSANDS of Northwestern students drinking alcohol under the age of 21. Even more shocking - the majority of it isn't going on at one off-campus bar, and it never has been. An outrage, I know.
Tailgate, but if I can recommend one establishment, it's Bat17, which serves relatively well-priced craft beer towers and the biggest, best sandwiches I've ever had. I've never gone for the beer tower/sandwich combo, but props to those who can.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
SoP: I like Northwestern here. Chase Rettig will have himself a good game against a weak Northwestern secondary, but I don't foresee a lot of stops by either team in this one. NU wins, 41-31.
For more on the Northwestern Wildcats, check out Sippin' On Purple.