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5 teams for Northwestern to schedule for non-conference play

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Not excited about the NU vs Eastern Illinois game? Ball State jokes getting old? We've got your back.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know about you guys, but this upcoming year for NU football probably has the best non-conference slate in recent memory. Northwestern scheduled its Pac 12 and ACC doppelgängers in Stanford and Duke. Maybe both those schools' football programs have passed NU's by, but it just makes sense. Top rated academic institutions kicking it in power conference football? A match made in heaven. Or Andersen Hall. A tip of the cap to you, Jim Phillips, or whoever is in charge of scheduling.

But even in a year where Northwestern plays these teams, there are still games on the schedule that are more or less throwaways. Eastern Illinois is a less exciting Western Illinois. At least Western has an awesome nickname. I'll take the Leathernecks over the Panthers every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Ball State you can talk me into just based on the hilarity of its name. But eventually, even those kind of jokes wear thin.

I'm not yet satisfied with Northwestern's slate, and it is in that spirit, that I submit to the athletic department the following 5 teams to, in future years, add to the schedule. I expect a formal response from Dr. Phillips in my inbox by tomorrow.

1) Vanderbilt

Much in the same vein as Duke and Stanford, Vanderbilt is a natural fit. They are to the SEC what Northwestern is to the Big Ten: that weird, private nerd school that boosts the conference's GPA and APR. Vanderbilt is also a really popular school amongst North Shore of Chicago high school kids. Evidently some people actually enjoy warm climates. Who knew? This game just makes sense. The only issue is that Vanderbilt flaked out of a game against Northwestern not all that long ago because they were scared to go chase a bigger payday.  But James Franklin is gone, and with that, there's a chance to rectify a relationship. We can all be friends, right?

2) Miami (OH)

The last time the Wildcats and RedHawks played was all the way back in 2009. It's time to get them back to Ryan Field.  These teams are strangely connected to each other. Of course in 1995, Northwestern followed up its historic upset of Notre Dame with an immensely head-scratching loss to Miami, who were coached by Randy Walker. Walker moved to coach Northwestern in 1999. With Walker moving from Miami to Northwestern, these teams are pretty linked up through coaching trees, but you can go even farther back than that. Going back to the 1950s, Ara Parseghian coached both at Northwestern and Miami. Northwestern and Miami is like a rivalry game that no one cares about. But I care. So put them on the schedule.

3) USC

I was not more than 2 years old when Northwestern lost to USC in the Rose Bowl. But I am not over Northwestern losing to USC in the Rose Bowl. I am not over the fact that Keyshawn Johnson sunk Northwestern in his ninth year of college eligibility. I am not over the fact that USC ruined what would have been the greatest underdog story of all time. I'm not over their obnoxious fight song that they play incessantly during every game. I'm not over their stupid Trojan mascot with his stupid sword that looks much more like a Roman gladius than what warriors of Troy were using. I'm not over their crimson and gold color scheme. I want USC. If NU loses? Fine. If NU wins? I'm building a Trojan Horse, sending it down to Steve Sarkisian's office and sneaking out of it in the middle of the night, breaking down the walls of the football complex, and salting the fields of the Coliseum. I don't like USC.

4) New Hampshire

I understand the need for NU to player FCS teams. Since I accept mediocrity, I still think that getting to bowl games is important, and beating up on FCS teams is part of getting to 6 wins. There isn't a better FCS opponent for NU to schedule than New Hampshire. Northwestern lost to New Hampshire in a battle of Wildcat mascots back in 2006. There were a lot of reasons for that loss, not the least of which was that it was the second game since the passing of Randy Walker. Playing the Wildcats again would give NU an easy W (ish), a chance to rectify a terrible loss, and a chance to show how far the program has come since Pat Fitzgerald took control. Plus Wildcats vs. Wildcats is always fun.

5) Kentucky

DO YOU REALLY THINK WE FORGOT ABOUT YOU BIG BLUE NATION?  DID YOU THINK WE WEREN'T GOING TO LET YOU KNOW THAT BY THE TRANSITIVE PROPERTY, WHICH IS A MATHEMATICAL LAW I REMIND YOU, NORTHWESTERN IS BETTER THAN YOU (NU>Rutgers>Wisconsin>Kentucky)? WE HAVE BEATEN YOU IN BASKETBALL AND NOW WE WILL BEAT YOU IN FOOTBALL.  SEC? MORE LIKE S-E SEE HOW MUCH WE'RE GOING TO BEAT YOU BY.

But scheduling this game would mean I would have to go to Lexington, Kentucky ... on second thought, maybe there's a better option.