There’s a lot to love about college football—outstanding plays, heartbreaking upsets, student sections decked out in school colors screaming louder than the entire stadium combined.
But the beauty of brutal, cunning pre-game trash talking is unmatched, no matter the extent of the rivalry. I’m here to deliver all the trash talk I can, but it’s going to be difficult considering the minimal threat that Duke football poses this upcoming Saturday.
I’ll begin with impartial football statistics. Stats never lie.
In last year’s matchup, NU won. The year before that, NU won again. I could go through the last 21 years of outcomes, but that would entail eight more sentences just like that which could get repetitive.
The amount of times the Blue Devils topped the Wildcats, however, won’t take up much room. 1998 and 2007. Yup, the last time Northwestern fans had to utter the words, “Damn, I can’t believe we actually lost to Duke’s football team,” was 10 years ago. For reference, the iPhone had just come out and the world was still run by the BlackBerry and flip phones. The time before that, I, along with the rest of the Class of 2020, had just been born, and Bill Clinton was still in office.
Okay, you probably don’t need more proof that Duke football hasn’t presented much danger to Northwestern in the past two decades. Moving on, here’s why Northwestern isn’t just better at football, but flat-out better in many (let’s be honest, most) other ways.
Sure, on paper, they’re pretty similar schools. Suburban, big sports, strong academics. Yeah, according to U.S. News and World Report, Duke’s ranked eighth and Northwestern sits at No. 12, to the great consternation of Morton O. Schapiro.
But that slightly lower rating is only one metric. Besides that, Duke really only tops Northwestern in the basketball realm. Statistically, that is, not by character, which is what really matters in college sports, at least according to the NCAA advertising campaigns and public opinion. Who’s the most well-known current Duke basketball player? Ah yes, that’s right, Grayson Allen. I seem to recall the Blue Devil captain repeatedly tripping players and throwing tantrums (four times) throughout 2016-17. Oops. That doesn’t sound very character-building.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ former captain, Sanjay Lumpkin, earned himself Academic All-Big Ten honors (almost as many times). Sorry Grayson Allen – well at least I would be if you were but hey, maybe fourth time’s the charm.
If you somehow missed all of these… um, unfortunate instances of Duke’s star point guard playing footsie, here’s a compilation.
Aside from that, Northwestern’s own Chris Collins both played for and was the assistant coach at Duke, but clearly came to his senses and found his way to the right school. Which school loves pumping out a series of one-and-dones in a naked attempt to rig bad NBA rules while also claiming to be morally and structurally superior? Which school works on building teams out of four-year players?
Out of respect for Coach K, I’ll end the basketball talk there.
Let’s compare campuses. Yes, Duke has beautiful architecture and nature preserves, but how can that compare to a campus that runs along Lake Michigan, has two beaches, and is 30 minutes from one of the greatest cities in America?
Just look at the view from “South Beach.”
And then there’s the Lakefill: 84 acres of unparalleled beauty. Seriously, there’s no way Duke’s nature beats this:
Finally, we have Evanston vs. Durham. They both have a lot of good restaurants and cute farmer’s markets downtown, but according to Duke students their motto is “Keep Durham dirty.” A catchy slogan, but not something that could ever be used to describe the vibe of Evanston.
Atmospheres aside, there are two things Evanston has that Durham undoubtedly doesn’t (not including Illinois’ lower state income tax).
1. Lou Malnati’s – one of the best Chicago-style pizza spots in the country
2. The Bahá'í House of Worship – one of only eight dedicated temples of the faith in the world, a site incomparable to anything in Durham
And with that, I really hope I can put my money where my mouth is with the help of a classic Northwestern beating on Saturday.
(Oh yeah, this seems like a good time to repost this video.)