Saturday starts the fall football season we thought might never come.
After 226 days without a single sporting event on Northwestern’s campus, the Wildcats will end the streak and host Maryland under the Ryan Field lights for their first game of the year.
This season will bring a lot of unknowns: how players’ bodies will respond during game time following a shortened training camp and time in pads; the question of players’ health among the pandemic; and the Wildcats’ offensive scheme under new offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and transfer QB Peyton Ramsey, who will get his first start in purple this Saturday.
Despite all of the uncertainties, there is no denying the glimmer of hope this football season brings to NU fans, who have waited almost ten months to be able to cheer on their Wildcats again. While tailgates may not happen in the Ryan Field parking lots and the stands will be barren, fans from across the globe will share a sigh of relief as Saturday marks the end of an exhausting offseason.
While other athletes may not be able to compete just yet, watching their football peers lace up their cleats gives them the hope that their time will come in the near future. Football players understand that they are playing for much more than just themselves this season. Multiple players have stated they are using other sports and the long list of medical professionals that worked tirelessly to make this season possible as their fire and energy.
Coming off the worst season Fitz has had since taking over the program, the Wildcats are looking to get back to winning ways. The tone was set as early as the last offseason when each player received a wristband that said “attitude and accountability.“ The message was direct, and Fitz says the players have put in the work to make the needed difference this season.
You can never take an opponent lightly, but Saturday’s matchup against Maryland and a new signal caller with Ramsey under center for NU who defeated the Terps last year provides much hope for the ‘Cats and their fans before heading into a demanding matchup at Iowa.
In a time that feels so isolated, Saturday will be the day that brings alumni, staff and current and future Northwestern students together once again, even if they’re only glued to their TVs.