Iowa vs. Northern Illinois @ Soldier Field, 09/01/07

September 11, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

Here at TMS we are nothing without our timely articles and insight. That said, here is a little ditty from the Iowa-Northern Illinois game last Saturday, September 1st. Next up, a post on my thoughts about the Cubs clinching the Central in 2003.

Unlike my last event recap, I will spare you all the indignity of having to read a rambling 15 minute introduction that clearly has nothing really to do with the actual post. So without further ado, I give to you the game recap, courtesy of Chaim and The Hundley, fueled by Old Style.

The Trip Up:

The Hundley: Blazing out of work early on Friday, it was clear that this was going to be a big weekend. After we got onto I-88 outside of Silvis, IL, it was already congested. And this stretch of 88 usually has tumbleweeds blowing across the road until you hit Annie Glidden Road and the Oasis. The traffic was made up of an insane amount of mini-vans and SUV’s that were sporting either the Iowa car flag or Hawkeye decals.

Chaim: The in-laws made their way over from the Hawkeye State to the Windy City on Friday night. After toasting a few cans of the barley and hops in their Congress Hotel suite, we made our way to the Hawkeye Huddle at Navy Pier. As you would imagine, the 'huddle' consisted of a lot of amped up middle-agers in Hawkeye gear, gathered together to pay Chicago prices for beer and listen to the Iowa marching band and a excitable MC that sounded like Tom Arnold. It was official. The State of Iowa had officially invaded it's neighbor to the west. But these invaders were peace-loving folk who enjoy domestic beer, tenderloins and classic rock.

Gameday Morning

The Hundley: Maybe I misspelled that. It could have just as easily been spelled mourning, as in my liver felt as if it were on strike from the chicanery of the previous night’s exploits. Scotch + cocaine + Twister + naked minstrels + two hours sleep = ugh*. We left Wrigleyville after picking up some beers and caught a cab to Soldier. The only thing that could revive me was a Vitamin Water, some Doritos, and the last remaining cigarette from the previous night’s pack, which unbelievably still smoked in it’s French fry-like shape.

Chaim: We drank more than anticipated at the Huddle and took the party with us to Exchequer. You know a restaurant is old school (esp. by Chicago standards) when your waitress is a sassy ole bluehair and one of your side dishes is a unanticipated cranberry gelatin mold. I was feeling the after effects in the morning...whether it was the beer or gelatin, one can't be sure. Regardless, nothing a little hair of the dog wouldn't cure. I'm sounding more like a hopeless alcoholic every day.


The Hundley: The geniuses that be the Chicago Police decided that people taking public transportation should get dropped off 5 miles from the stadium. Hey, what do I know? As I was regaining motor skills and cognitive thinking abilities, I noticed that 99 out of every 100 people were wearing a yellow t-shirt. A home game for us, indeed. The South Lots of Soldier looked like the scene from The Ten Commandments where the zealots are worshiping the Golden Calf. Iowa flags, Iowa windsocks, Iowa “bag-o” boards, stereos blasting the Iowa Fight was unreal. Out of the blue I’m seeing random people I’ve done work for, went to college with, old neighbors, everything. 'Unbelievable' is a good word to describe it. Perhaps because of the somewhat confined space it seemed crazier than the tailgating I remember from my college days in Iowa City.

After wandering around like a pack of choads carrying opened 12 packs of beer, we made it a mission to find our friends and hopefully take a piss. Cell phone use was sporadic at best, but I guess that happens when you have 40,000 people simultaneously trying to call one another. After finally finding our group, we lucked out in getting the beers on ice, but the lack of pissing was getting to be a problem. People were everywhere in the line of sight, and with all the alcohol consumption going on, this wouldn’t be a ‘splash ‘n go’ type pitstop. Luckily, some 16oz plastics cups were provided for the male relief, though many pisses ventured into the realm of the two cup pisses, prompting movie lines like “I can’t stop once I start, it stings!”

For the gals, they were not so lucky. After waiting in line at the Port-o-Potties for over ½ an hour without the line decreasing, extreme measures had to be taken. Being that they were there with wide-shouldered men such as we are, we stood guard while the ladies pissed between cars. If you think that is coarse and vulgar, would you rather it be in pants? (Talk to Chaim ‘bout that) Rumors have since swirled that the unbelievably few number of Port-o-Potties were actually OVERFLOWING and people still continued to use them. Mardi Gras hits Chicago!

Chaim: Not having the equipment or wherewithal to do justice to a proper 'tailgate' (and not wanting to endure the headache of driving) we decide to tailgate on the sly. Our ghetto tailgating consisted of stopping at a nearby liquor store and picking up some Old Style and a large bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Bad ass. We staked out a prime people-watching stop in the South Lot and slugged down some warm beer whilst leaning up against a slab of hot concrete. I hadn't actually tailgated or even been to a big time college game in years. Being a solid 7 years removed from my higher education, I forgot how crazy that it can get. Also, as much as love my alma mater, Northern Iowa, the tailgating scene there is pretty timid. Not having any pro teams, the Hawkeyes are 'it' for the whole state. It doesn't matter if you went there or not. (You need not even have your GED.) The Hawkeyes have a bandwagon, nay industrial size John Deere combine, that is made of steel and is large enough to accommodate all of the huddled masses.

One thing I notice is the prevalence of that bean bag game. I don't remember it being that big 'back in the day', but now, walking around the parking lot you spend half your time navigating around all of the makeshift bean bag contraptions. Amazing how such a simple game can make so many people happy. I suppose the real reason for it's popularity lies in the fact that it is easy to play and keep score even when you are really, really drunk.

The Game:

The Hundley: Nothing sobers a guy up like $7 beers that you wait 30 minutes for. Yeesh. When we finally hit our seats in the North Endzone (300 level), two things stood out. One, Iowa was not already killing NIU, and two, there was no shade to be had. Initially the people two rows behind us were able to escape Helios’ wrath, but soon they would be enveloped by it as well. Even with a visor, sunglasses, and some sunscreen, that bastard was still oppressive. Coupled with the fact that Iowa couldn’t sustain much in the way of the pass, it made for a long, boring game. A blonde seated two rows in front of us who looked like she played our game of coked-up twister, was passed out and drooling all while getting a nice burn. Small moments like these made me forget how miserable I was. Sweating, burning, hungover with a headache, I was happy when we finally started running the ball with vengeance and managed to win by double digits.

Chaim: We were sitting in the 400 section, Northwest side. Not exactly field level, but really they weren't too shabby and provided a great view of the lake. As The Hundley mentioned, it was $7 for a beer. Wow. That said, the price tag, while serving as a solid topic for us to bitch about, did not deter any of us from actually paying that price multiple times. Since this game was at Soldier Field, a pro stadium, the normal college rule of 'no alcohol in the stadium' was out the window. For those that can hold their liquor (I don't necessarily put myself in this category) that is a good thing...but for the thousands of undergrads, underage and just plain over-served this proved to be a death knell as evidenced by the countless scenes of carnage. Coeds strewn about, their eyes rolled back, their limbs splayed every which way. Oh college. The best line I heard all weekend came from the group of about a half dozen underage blonds sitting directly behind us, one of which drunkenly and quite disgustedly lamented as they sat down, "Ugggghhh....I think we're in the OLD PEOPLE section." This comment made me giddy until I came to the realization that I am now far enough removed from college that I am, in fact, one of those dreaded OLD PEOPLE.

The game itself? With a final score of 16-3, it wasn't exactly Arena Football, but a win is a win. The crowd's enthusiasm seemed to be a bit dampened by the unforgiving sun, and many of the revelers seemed to have peaked early in regards to their binge drinking. Good hard-nosed running games and stellar defense don't always make for the most exciting games, but it was enjoyable regardless and I was able to squeeze a few drunken high fives in with the father-in-law. As he would say, "Life is good."

The Aftermath:

The Hundley: Thank YHWH that the two guys I was traveling with had no grand ideas of further drinking. In what seemed like a 20 mile hike to catch the El, it was another 45 minutes on the construction riddled train ride to Wrigley. We all layed down to nap after we caught the Appalachian State highlights, circa 8:30pm. The next thing I knew it was 4:30am and everyone else was snoring while smelling of booze and burnt skin. Now, if I could just find some mutha flippin’ aloe…

Chaim: I think this pretty much sums it up. We are walking out of the stadium. A mass of black and gold, walking together as one. Well, almost walking together as one. There is one guy, early 50's, Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned, quite literally stumbling along by himself. Everyone is making a point to steer clear of this FOB**. And why? (In high pitched child's voice) "Mommy that guy pooped his pants." That's right folks. He pooped his pants. Or rather his khaki shorts. Do I need to go into further detail? I think not. There are some lines even I, Chaim Witz, refuse to cross. Let's just say that game was a real pants pooper.

*Might be embellished a scoash.
**FOB = Friend of Buzanis

I took this shot standing where I purchased my $7 beer because that beer reminded me of why I love this country.

This is a football field. Yay!

I kept cheering for Tavian Banks, but I don't think he heard me. So then I started cheering for Tyra Banks instead.

Tommy's boat, The Orifice Penetrator, sets sail outside of the stadium. Tommy didn't have time to attend the actual game.

I love this picture. Not wanting to be a total a-hole, I slyly set my camera on my shoulder and angled it to where I hoped they would be. Perfect. They were passed out before the end of the first quarter. Old people my ass.