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A Day in the Life of a Wildcat: The Northwestern Game Day Experience

You’ve got a beer in your hand with the cool fall breeze blowing into your face. You see a hot dog cart with a line a mile long pass by. All of this is surrounded by a massive crowd of pumped up Wildcats fans. Sound impossible? Well it’s not, and it’s only a small part of a day at a Northwestern football game.



To start the day, you have plenty of options to work with. You can start the day off with a bang, and hit up a local bar, like Bar 17, to pregame with bottomless mimosas or other drinks. If that’s not exactly your scene, you can go to one of the many tailgates near the stadium, which are up and running by 9:00 in the morning.


The tailgating before a game at Ryan Field is incredible. Houses near the stadium have all sorts of food cooking, from classic game day favorites like chili and ribs, to more extravagant fare like entire roasted pigs. Hot dog carts from Mustard’s, a local favorite, will line the streets for hours.


One popular tailgate near the stadium known as “The Tub” is a fabled spot to get hyped before a game. Hundreds of college students make sure to stop by for drinks, food, and a good time on their way to the stadium. It’s almost impossible to stop by there on your way to the game without hearing “Let’s fucking go!!!”



Once you arrive at the stadium, it’s clear that the vibes will be different than a usual football game. Opposing fanbases always make an effort to pack as many fans as possible in the stadium. Sometimes, they even outnumber the home crown. But when a big-time Big 10 upset is going down, you can definitely tell it’s a home game.When a wildcat roar is blaring over the speakers and fans are screaming at the top of their lungs, it feels like the ground is shaking.



After a game, the party doesn’t stop. If the Wildcats pull off an upset, you can bet the fans will be riled up, and that’s not an uncommon occurrence. Over the past several years, Northwestern has had home wins against Wisconsin and Nebraska, as well as a triple-overtime thriller over a ranked Michigan State squad.


A game day at Northwestern can be whatever you want it to be. If you want to have a relaxing fall experience and eat some good food, you can find that outside of Ryan Field. If you want a crazy day with hours of pregaming and tons of post-game partying, there’s plenty of that too. The Northwestern fanbase may not be as big as Michigan or Ohio State, but they still know how to host a pretty damn good day of football.




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