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Football Sun Nov 21 2010

Football at Wrigley: Northwestern vs. Illinois

Thumbnail image for wrigley classic.jpgAfter all the hype, all the last-minute changes and excuse-making -- seriously, these dullards didn't confirm the field would actually fit on the field? -- Saturday's historic college football game at Wrigley Field worked about exactly as you might expect.

Before the game, it was the usual Wrigleyville beer and hot dogs scene, which is already equivalent to a football tailgate party, with a few extra street festivities added to give Northwestern and Illinois fans something of a bowl game experience close to home.

During the game, it was your basic college football game, a decisive 48-27 win for the Illini and their outnumbered but feisty fan base.

The silliness of having both teams advance toward the same end zone and share the same sideline was a minor footnote. The history of football at Wrigley Field -- none here since the Bears left in 1970 and no college football since 1938 -- faded after a while, replaced by a generally exciting game featuring a slew of explosive plays and an Illini-record 330 rushing yards by Mikel Leshoure.

It wasn't a natural fit, but as a lark, football at Wrigley Field worked pretty well. ESPN's weekly traveling circus, "College Gameday," was a rousing success broadcasting from the McDonald's parking lot across Clark, and more than 41,000 fans seemed in high spirits, giddy on the novelty of the thing. (Except maybe this guy.)

We've got pics! (And so does Northwestern, if you're interested.)

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