I remember watching Northwestern beat Notre Dame last year. Jumping for joy when Jack Mitchell nailed his game winner, seeing shocked Notre Dame fans stand in silence when the Wildcats rushed the field and watching social media blow up when the miraculous upset bid had finally ended successfully was one of the most fun times I've had watching Northwestern sports.
But that was one afternoon, and Northwestern fans were quickly brought back down to Earth when Trevor Siemian got hurt the next week against Purdue and the Wildcats lost to Illinois and, as a result, missed a bowl game.
But that all seems like a million years (or at least a million articles) ago.
Because since September 5th, the Wildcats haven't lost a game, have climbed to No. 13 in the nation, have beaten two similarly academically inclined institutions, destroyed a Big Ten foe that has given them trouble in recent seasons and now head to Michigan this weekend for perhaps the biggest game of Week 6. Yes, it's the same Northwestern team that none of our writers had winning more than seven games before the season started. Five wins was realistic (and it still can happen, technically) and six wins would be a success in the eyes of most predictors. Through five weeks, the Wildcats have five wins and six wins seems just as likely as 11 or 12 at this point.
This has to be one of the best times to root for Northwestern. It's awesome. Campus is abuzz.
Alumni are loving it.
It's a good thing for the zebras this game isn't close...27-0 go Cats...onto the Big House— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) October 3, 2015
This Northwestern defense is gooooooooooooooood— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) October 3, 2015
congrats to @coachfitz51 & the northwestern wildcats. beat minnesota 27-0 to go to 5-0. pretty, pretty, pretty good— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) October 3, 2015
Northwestern President Morty Shapiro is into it:
Even the dancing redshirt freshmen (known as the Juice Squad) are making it onto SportsCenter.
But in this day and age, people can't help but be skeptical. They look at Northwestern's offensive S&P+. They look at the last hot start Northwestern had (4-0 in 2013, we know how that season ended). They look at the rest of the Northwestern's depressing offensive advanced stats and the tradition Northwestern has of awful Octobers.
They even look at the projections that have Northwestern in the College Football Playoff or the Rose Bowl and get their hopes way back up again before realizing that NU is still a huge long-shot for either of those scenarios. So go ahead and do that. After all, that's what stats are for, right?
Soak it in.
And then, get rid of it. Soak up the now. The 5-0. The "Holy sh*t your school's football team is No. 13 in the country ahead of Ole Miss, Notre Dame, USC and Michigan." The fact that the school you support, the smallest, most academically-prestigious school in its conference, has a resume that, if translated into the job world, could get you a job anywhere.
Five weeks into this season, Northwestern is one of eight 5-0 teams. It doesn't get much better than that. While you inevitably think about the future and worry about that dreaded, seemingly unavoidable Northwestern collapse, live in the present. At this point, no one can predict what will happen in the next seven weeks. The wheels could completely fall off. The team could run all the way to the national championship. The possibilities really are endless, which is what makes college football -- or any sport really -- so great but so stressful at the same time.
But right now, the Northwestern Wildcats -- YOUR Northwestern Wildcats -- are playing great football. And great football is fun. So have fun with it. You never know when this team could be as good or as fun as this one is right now.
As Alice Morse Earle, American historian and author, says: "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present." Northwestern football is giving you one heck of a present. Enjoy it.