I haven't really traveled much to away games in the 13 years I've been a Northwestern season ticket holder. I've visited Chambana two or three times and gone to see a game at Notre Dame last year. However, my little brother works down in Durham, and as luck would have it, Northwestern played Duke this year. I made the flight down with the rest of my family.
After a quick cab ride from RDU to my brother's loft apartment in downtown Durham, I went to a Northwestern alum party at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe overlooking the ballpark where the Durham Bulls play. I met up with several player's parents and Willie the Wildcat.
Saturday Morning my siblings and I picked up a case of Bud light and were driven over to Duke's campus. I've never been there before, and it was very hilly and huge! Very beautiful, with old gothic buildings and big quads. Cameron Indoor Stadium doesn't look that big. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed inside.
Duke University has decided to take football seriously, so in addition to investing in a quality coach (David Cutcliffe) they've decided to put probably $100 million of work into Wallace Wade stadium and the surrounding area. They've lowered the field and put in a new scoreboard, but the progress is half done.
The scoreboard is brand new, and probably twice as loud as the one I see at Ryan Field. They're apparently going to use an 8-bit Nintendo font from here on out. I like it. One of the obnoxious things about their scoreboard was this stupid game where they would put Duke fans into a telephone booth and shoot dollar bills at them with a vacuum or something. Also, they have a tarp.
It was extremely hot down there: probably 90 degrees with a ton of humidity! The school had their heat advisory protocol in place, and several Duke and Northwestern fans had to go to the IV tent. I think the heat got to the stadium DJ because at one point when Duke needed to take some shots down the field he or she played Shots by LMFAO for like 30 seconds. I don't think I'd ever hear that song at Ryan Field, or ever would.
The heat did not help matters because the section with predominately Northwestern fans smelled like urine. Ugh. Thanks for letting the frat guys or the men's lacrosse team piss all over the place the night before Duke!
Clayton Thorson is still a work in progress as a passer, however our running game, a timely kick return , and a tough defense ensured the Wildcats prevailed in a hot and muggy game. Ugh. This was literally the hottest game I've ever sat in, and the prevalent smell of urine in the seats did not help matters one bit!
After the game and hydrating a lot, my family and I went out to The Pit Durham for pit barbecue, pulled pork, collared greens, ribs, cornbread, fried tofu, creamed corn, grits and chicken. Wow. That's food was amazing, and I'll need to be hitting the gym for a while.
Sunday morning I went out for Chicken and Waffles at Dames Chicken and Waffles, and I can say with authority that this stuff is better than the Chicken and Waffles I've had in Bronzeville in Chicago.
The flight back was uneventful, but extremely bumpy. I had a great time visiting my family and eating some outstanding food.
Oh, and there's a bit of controversy brewing about Northwestern fans being irrationally exuberant: Look, we won three games, one against a Stanford team that beat USC, and another against a mid to upper tier ACC team. Things are better this year and it feels damn good. Let's just take it one week at a time and feel confident and above all have fun. I think we can take Wisconsin and Minnesota, and have maybe a 40% chance to win the division, if Clayton Thorson keep improving as a passer. Handing the ball of to Justin Jackson a ton might not be a long term solution. Our defense on the other hand is outstanding, and Anthony Walker Jr is a stud. I'm very happy so far with this season, and I want the good times to keep rolling.