Where Was The Purple at Northwestern’s Ryan Field on Saturday?

If fans of Northwestern Wildcats football weren’t sick to their stomach on Saturday, they should have been.

Not because the Wildcats suffered a one-point loss at home to Nebraska 29-28.

And not because Northwestern blew a 12-point lead in the final eight minutes to suffer its second loss in Big Ten play.

In fact, fans didn’t even need to see a single play at Ryan Field to understand what was wrong on Saturday afternoon, they just needed to look at the stadium itself.


Nebraska got to enjoy a Sea of Red even in another team’s stadium on Saturday.

In what might have been Northwestern’s biggest home game of the season, fans should have been covered in purple gear from head to toe, ready to cheer their 6-1 Wildcats on to victory. But instead, the crowd that showed up in Evanston on Saturday was wearing red.

Folks on the television said throughout the game that it felt like a Nebraska home game and that the “Sea of Red” outnumbered the Northwestern faithful in a Big Ten Legends division battle.

It’s one thing to have Cornhusker fans take over your stadium during a down year, but this was a 6-1 Northwestern team at the time, a team that was still fighting for a possible Legends division title and a chance to appear in the Big Ten Conference championship game in December.

I understand that Northwestern isn’t a school with an enormous fan base, but this should have been a different story.

What also may have been a different story, had a decent-sized home crowd showed up for the game, was the outcome of the game.

Yes, Northwestern let the game slip away. There is absolutely no question about that. It was a game the Wildcats could have won, and should have won, on Saturday to improve their record to 7-1 on the year.

Had a majority of the seats been filled with purple and white, maybe Pat Fitzgerald’s team would have been able to rally behind its home fans and come away with the victory.

Maybe it wouldn’t have been as easy for Taylor Martinez and the Huskers to drive down the field on the final drives of the game.

Perhaps a rowdy mass of people inside Ryan Field would have caused the visiting Huskers to panic a bit.

But we will never know.

It’s shocking to me that there was such a low turnout for the game on Saturday, especially with all that Fitzgerald has done for the program. Taking a team that had been the laughingstock of the Big Ten for so many decades and sporting a 46-38 record with four bowl appearances is unbelievable.

Fitzgerald didn’t deserve to witness what they saw in the stands on Saturday, and neither did the 6-1 (now 6-2) Wildcats.

Now that this rant has concluded, I want to hear from Northwestern fans. What was the reason for such a Nebraska-heavy crowd on Saturday?


  1. the ramblings of a youth pastor says:

    I was one of the Nebraska fans there, and to be honest it really wasn’t hard to get a ticket, prices for tickets dropped to $12/ticket, my brother and I were shocked at the lack of Northwestern fans, but it was nice to be able to go to, what felt like, a Nebraska home game, when it is nearly impossible to get to a real home game. There is a very high chance that the game would have ended differently, because we made it impossible for the northwestern players to hear anything in that last 8 minutes.

  2. We are trying to increase purple attendance at Ryan Field. But the fact of the matter is scenes like the one from Saturday are not unusual for Northwestern. When Ohio State and Michigan come to Ryan Field, they regularly outdraw Northwestern fans. I remember my freshman year in 2006 the student section was the second O in O-H-I-O.

    You have to remember that every school in the Big Ten except Penn State has more alums in the Chicago area than Northwestern’s undergraduate population. It is difficult for us to sell out games, so we are somewhat happy to have the stadium full. We are trying to build our program and hopefully one day it will be fully purple one day for a Nebraska game. We are not there yet, lots of growth to do there.

    Unfortunately, we knew coming into the season that Nebraska would likely sell out our stadium with red. By all accounts, the Huskers fans were very nice and were impressed with the Northwestern game experience (crowd part aside). Hopefully they will come back for one of the other games and bring a little purple with them.

    Go Cats!

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