Graduate students are not typically noted for their fervent school spirit, at least when it comes to athletic events. At Owen, however, we take our Vanderbilt studentship pretty seriously, and like to fling our Black and Gold at stadiums across the country. This weekend, our beloved ‘Dores rolled into Evanston, Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Northwestern serves as the Big Ten Conference’s counterpoint to Vandy, as a small, academically focused private school nestled amidst a slew of state school behemoths. “Brain Game” could easily have been the nickname for this matchup, given the pair’s similar scholastic reputations. With the big matchup all set, 12 Owen 2nd years piled into an RV to make the 9 hour trek to the north suburbs of Chicago.
As per usual when it comes to an Owen outing, no shortage of gusto was put into the weekend festivities, which meant bringing out staple provisions like grills, tents, and footballs, and the serious necessities like a flabongo (Google it), and Eric Atchley’s Personal Guide to Gangnam Style Dancing.
All the proper elements in place, our crew took advantage of Northwestern’s beautiful waterside location with an invigorating swim in Lake Michigan. Refreshed and rehydrated, it was time to kick off the Saturday morning tailgate with a cornhole tournament and some parking lot football. This tailgate would prove to be a marathon, given the late start to the game itself. An adjacent tailgate hosted by the parents of several Commodore players lent the area a much-needed infusion of Vanderbilt pride. Once the Wildcats began circling their own wagons, it was time for some friendly pregame competition, which Owen was happy to provide with a 20-person flip cup matchup, with Vandy taking the best of seven series 4 games to 1.
As game time drew near, so began the tear down and descent into Ryan Field. While the crowd significantly favored the home team, a small but vocal contingent of Commodore backers made sure our boys were well-supported. The game turned into an unexpected defensive battle, as a steady rainfall contributed to a number of sloppy plays and turnovers. Vandy managed to hold on to to an early lead, but allowed the Wildcats to turn the tide in the second half. Ultimately, the game itself was less the favorable for the ‘Dores; but while Vandy may have lost on the field, it certainly won the tailgate.