If you look through all the photos of Trevor Siemian in the postgame celebration from Northwestern's 43-40 overtime win over Notre Dame, you won't find a single picture when he isn't beaming. He hugged everyone in sight, from assistant coaches to Chi Chi Ariguzo, and he at one point, he waved in front of a reporter's camera like a little kid.
Was this the craziest game he'd ever been a part of? "Yeah, probably," he said postgame.
Somehow, this was only a week removed from a legitimately disheartening press conference in which Siemian had to explain what happened on a failed two-point conversion attempt against Michigan, which lost the game and ended with him falling flat on his ass.
"I slipped, probably because I'm unathletic," he said.
The media members in attendance chuckled, but you had to feel bad for the guy. Clearly, he knew what people were saying, and the worst part of it was, they were right. But at times on this Saturday, Siemian ran through the Notre Dame defense like it was nothing. In two weeks, he was largely responsible for two of the scores in this interesting trifecta:
Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0
Michigan 10, Northwestern 9
Northwestern 43, Notre Dame 40
College football is weird. The problem is, Northwestern is usually the butt of the weirdness. There was everything that happened last week, the Hail Mary last year, Michigan's sliding kicker, the inexplicable 48-7 loss to Iowa, the near-win against Ohio State ... I could go on. For the most part, the weirdness of Northwestern usually sucks way more than it is fun. The Wildcats don't get that crazy end-of-game turnover that you see in the movies. The kicker, who is normally unreliable, doesn't put together such an impressive performance. Northwestern Northwesterns its games away. That's how it goes. That's Northwestern's contribution to college football's weirdness.
But it wouldn't be weird if it kept happening. On Saturday, the anti-Northwestern happened. Notre Dame was the team that inexplicably gave the ball away to force overtime. Jack Mitchell hit his field goals. Kyle Prater finally became FIVE STAR KYLE PRATER. And perhaps the weirdest thing to come from this game is that NU actually won. And when they did, they rushed over to their fans for as cool of a sight as I've ever seen. The pure joy of the moment, the smiles, the cheering, the adrenaline to run through a wall ... it was incredible.
For once, the weirdness was ... fun?
After the game, a lot of people wanted to wonder what this Northwestern team is made of. Is "this" the Northwestern team we're going to see for the final two games? Or was it a fluke? Or do we have any idea at all? This is especially intriguing, considering that half of NU's wins are against Wisconsin and Notre Dame, and there's another against Penn State.
This is a site where we pride ourselves in our analysis, but I'd encourage you to go with the latter option — we don't have any idea what to make of this. The fact is, Northwestern is a 4-6 team that still needs to win out to make a bowl game. If the Wildcats do go to a bowl game, they'll probably end up playing a Conference USA team in something called the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. Don't bother arguing whether NU is above that, or whether the coordinators should stay next year or whether this has been a waste of a season.
This is one of the few times that Northwestern gets to celebrate the unexpected, and it's okay that we have no idea how the hell it happened, or if it will ever happen again.
College football is weird; that we all know. And a lot of the time, it sucks. But damn, it sure can be fun, too.