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Off Beat Empire: The Final Stretch

Enduring UMass

Massachusetts v Northwestern
Just look at that wild throng of fans celebrating Evan Hull’s emergence as “the lucky RB who got to play UMass”
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

It’s the final stretch of the year for B1G football season. Some of you have much to be excited about... Ohio State can still cement it’s spot in the CFP and crush two rivals a rival in the process. Penn State and Michigan can pretend that they’re actually good enough to beat Ohio State... at least until about 5-10 minutes after kickoff. The West Division will almost certainly come down to the “Axe” game. Illinois might finally reclaim the Hat on its way to a bowl game. Indiana still has a chance to knock off a hated brand for the first time in a while and boost it’s Bowl profile.

However, most of the remainder of the conference and it’s poor Marching Band members don’t have a whole lot to look forward to over the next couple of weeks. Iowa will at least go Bowling and still have the chance to punish the ‘Huskers for every unkind word during the Hayden Fry era, but even if they finish at 9-3 it still has to kind of feel like another “meh” season after falling short in almost every meaningful game. The Spartans, Huskers, and Boilers aren’t mathematically eliminated from post-season play, yet, but things aren’t looking good. At least the ‘Cats won’t have to endure the Gophers clinching in Ryan Field, but November brought us the worst late-season non-con opponent I have ever seen and the crowds responded accordingly with a whopping 29,477 in attendance (no way in hell that number was accurate)... the worst since a game against Eastern Illinois in 2015. Maryland and Rutgers mercifully only have one game left.

Anyway, maybe it’s just me going through the first Northwestern hopeless end-of-season stretch in a while, but it seems like there are a lot more teams dealing with disappointment this year than most and it’s times like this that I truly feel for those wearing the uniform, especially seniors who will be going out on what is probably a low note. Just remember, unlike most fans, Bands aren’t allowed to say “screw it” and watch the game while drinking beer. For those of you who have a game left to endure in what is a disappointing season, more than I anything I hope and pray for good weather... may you stay dry and reasonably warm.


You’re in a Band that hasn’t clinched a Bowl berth, yet

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    We can still make a Bowl game! (No... no, you won’t)
    (9 votes)
  • 12%
    That’s alright, I’ve got "Bucket" / "Hat" to look forward to!
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    Good thing Basketball Band started
    (12 votes)
  • 13%
    Oh shit... I agreed to play in the Basketball Band as well...
    (12 votes)
  • 27%
    I can sneak in a flask or two
    (25 votes)
  • 23%
    Band meals provided by Arby’s
    (21 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now


Not a whole lot of new video to review this week...

Win: Michigan “Blue Planet” (Nov. 16th)

A hodgepodge of various tunes with titles or themes somehow related to different environments on our fair Earth. In other words, a real stretch and word games, but overall, the performance still ended up being something fun. Tunes played included “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns-N-Roses, “The Bear Necessities” from Disney’s Jungle Book, “Under the Sea” from the Little Mermaid (it’s a Disney world, we’re just living in it... is anybody willing to say if getting Disney + is worth it for the Mandalorian, alone?), music from the Lion King, Toto’s “Africa”, the theme from “Lawrence of Arabia”, and “Prince” Ali” from Aladdin. I commend the band for trying something unique and putting an arrangement together for what I thought was a nearly impossible task for “Welcome to the Jungle”. However, in the end, I was right and it proved to be an impossible task - not a great start to the performance. However, the rest of the show was much better arranged and I think the Wolverines sounded clean and good for the rest of the show. Overall a very entertaining performance.

Always a Winner, but alas a Repeat this Week: Michigan State’s Latin Jazz Show reprise (Nov. 16th)

Already reviewed a few weeks ago, but damn... this is awesome. I can’t help posting it a second time.

Not a Winner, but Still Damn Good: Ohio State Santana Show (Nov. 16th)

Ohio State gave us something a little new and unique with the music of Santana, including an opener that just can’t quite figure out (it sounds like the P.A. announcer is saying “Kelly”, but I know that’s not it), “Black Magic Woman”, “Everybody’s Everything”, “Smooth”, and “All I Ever Would”. I’ve never really spent a ton of time listening to Santana other than that brief period in the late ‘90’s when “Smooth” became a ubiquitous hit, but it’s great to see a band try and bring the laid-back style and unique rhythms of Santana to the field. Unfortunately, though, I’m not quite sure it all worked musically. Like Michigan doing Guns-N-Roses, it’s just very hard to capture the style and essence of what Santana is with marching band instrumentation, and while I think the Buckeyes did their absolute best, it just seemed to fall a little bit flat. However, their drill was pretty good throughout, using a lot of simple swinging gates and mesh drills add some flair and motion to their performance. Overall, it’s still a very good performance and I appreciate OSU trying something new.

Others: Out of Action

I did get a late “Salute to the Services” show posted for Northwestern, but I discussed it last week, and frankly, I think we’ve seen enough to be able to skip viewing another time. I have finally found a fair amount of video on Indiana, but it’s now all dated from mid-October or earlier. I apologize for missing so much of the Hoosier’s season, but hopefully will get a show or two to feature for the final two weeks. Unfortunately, I didn’t see video posted for anyone else.


The pain of a horrible season is drawing to a close for many. Give their Marching Bands your sympathy as you sit warm and half drunk in your bath robe on the couch.