The Northwestern Wildcats – excuse us, the 0-3-in-non-conference, Big Ten West Champion Northwestern Wildcats – have very little to play for on Saturday at Minnesota. So the Northwestern Wildcats, while passing the time until their biggest game of the 21st century, can do whatever the heck they want.
Case in point:
Northwestern is “warming up” in Minneapolis. It’s 22 degrees. (OC Mick McCall is in there too.) pic.twitter.com/KJCSnUw6kt
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) November 17, 2018
Yes, those are dozens of 18-to-23-year-old men exercising shirtless in 22-degree Minneapolis weather, at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, because … well, because why the hell not?
And yes, that is offensive coordinator Mick McCall – who has been coaching college football since the 1970s – stripping down to a bare chest in their midst. (If you missed him on first watch, don’t rewind and go looking for him; the sight may or may not ruin your day.)
Somehow, internet-famous strength coach Alex Spanos is one of the few somewhat fully clothed folks on the field. Watch any Northwestern game – in 90-degree weather or 10-degree weather – and you’ll see Spanos on the sideline, bouncing and clapping incessantly with frightening intensity, in short sleeves. But at the start of the video, you can see him in a sleeveless shirt and shorts. Weak.
— Northwestern On BTN (@NUOnBTN) November 17, 2018
In case you’re wondering, there is no good reason for Northwestern players to be “warming up” shirtless in below-freezing temps, other than that it is a quintessential excessively macho-male idea of fun.
And, again, Northwestern can do whatever the heck it wants, because against all odds, it clinched a Big Ten West title with weeks to spare.
Northwestern has very little to play for Saturday
Northwestern’s playoff hopes disappeared in September. The Wildcats lost to Duke, then Akron. They always lose to Akron. Here we go again, the fan base collectively fumed.
But they clinched their division, and a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game, by upsetting Wisconsin and Iowa. They’re 6-1 in the Big Ten. The game, therefore, has no conference implications. And Northwestern’s only route to a New Year’s Six Bowl is through a victory over Michigan or Ohio State in Indy. So the season finales against Minnesota and Illinois are merely schedule placeholders.
That lack of incentive – plus the fact that Northwestern, by most advanced metrics, simply isn’t that good – explains why the Wildcats are 3-point underdogs to a mind-numbingly mediocre Minnesota team.
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