On the 58th anniversary of the ‘Greatest’ game ever played, (the 1958 NFL Championship Game at old Yankee Stadium), the New Era Pinstripe bowl at new Yankee Stadium took place Wednesday afternoon. For the Big 10 Northwestern Wildcats and the ACC Pitt Panthers, it would be the seventh time these two teams have met with each winning three of the previous encounters. The last time in 1973 and this being their first meeting in a bowl game.
It was nice to return to Yankee Stadium and although it is a football game today, I couldn’t help feeling the baseball vibes of this great place. Seeing friends like Fran Mulvey and Ronald Forbes is always a pleasure. They are part of the amazing staff, who lay out a magnificent buffet for us during the baseball season and now again for this Bowl game.
The entire week was amazing for these young men and their families. They visited the 911 memorial and rang the bell at the NY Stock Exchange, along with a host of other “Only in New York” experiences. .
The crowd of 37,918, hunkered down in their seats on a breezy 39 degree day in the Bronx, where they watched a very well executed game between two closely matched teams. A battle that saw Northwestern running back Justin Jackson rush for 226 yards and three touchdowns, and Pitt QB Nathan Peterman throw for 217 yards in the first half and finish with 253 yards passing as Northwestern won the seventh anna game 31-24.
Also, Northwestern’s Austin Carr caught six passes for 51-yards. Six passes doesn’t seem like a lot, but Pitt having to key on Carr, allowed Jackson to run wild, and take home the David C.Koch MVP award.
“Big city. Big stage,” Jackson said. “We walked into Yankee Stadium and everything kind of really hit us.”
Unfortunately for Peterman and his Pitt Panthers, he was sidelined with a concussion early in the third quarter, which hurt the Panthers big time. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Ben DiNucci, who passed for only 16- yards with one touchdown and two interceptions late in the game.
That was, like daggers to the heart for the huge enthusiastic fans from the steel city. Both turnovers came in the red zone and ended any hope of a comeback for Pitt. as the clock ran down.
All six previous games between these two schools, have been decided by close contests and with the final score going to Northwestern, it was no exception.
The Wildcats made fewer costly mistakes than Pitt. who left too many points on the field including a missed field goal by a kid with the worst name for a kicker, Chris Blewitt. I kid you not.
The Northwestern offensive line allowed four sacks, yet were able to open holes for Jackson that as coach Pat Fitzgerald said in his post game conference: “You could drive a truck through.”
Fitzgerald also thanked Danny Kanell and the ESPN crew that said the Cat’s should just be happy to be here and that their motivation would be low.
“That was a video I showed the guys when we showed up here in New York. I think it put things in perspective for where we’re at and it was the last thing we saw video-wise today. Cannot thank that group of three men enough. I’m proud to blow out their bowl season predictions.”
Trying to predict a college bowl game, is like trying to guess how many pits are in a pumpkin.
Another championship for a Chicago team today, but as we left the building, to the sound of Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York, we were reminded that, “Nobody does it like the Yankees.”