This Saturday’s showdown between Nebraska and Northwestern is something of a big deal. Because of how awful the Big Ten is this year, really, anyone has a chance to be the non-Ohio State team that legitimately finishes atop the conference.
The Huskers enter this weekend sitting at 4-2 (1-1 in the conference, though) and looking to knock a 5-1 Northwestern group (2-1 in the conference) down a peg. If that were to happen, Nebraska could in theory win out -- which would mean beating Michigan and Iowa -- and then finish as the best team in the Legends Division.
Will all of that actually happen? It’s impossible to say. But there is definitely a chance.
This outing is huge for Northwestern, too. The Wildcats have a similarly manageable schedule ahead of them, so if they were to beat Nebraska and then win out – they could be the squad that ends up at the helm of the Legends Division.
Given everything that’s at stake, you can’t fault all involved for doing every little thing imaginable to gain an advantage. Including scheduling mandated nap times, apparently.
This is the result of the Sept. 15 Boston College game, also a 2:30 start. NU coach Pat Fitzgerald noticed his team came out sluggish, trailing 10-9 in the second quarter. So he asked members of his Leadership Council: "What's the deal? Why didn't we start fast?" They told him the game clashed with nap time. NU players typically arrive at the team complex at 6:50 a.m. for meetings, practice from 8:50 to 10:30, attend class and then snooze in the early afternoon. So Saturday's itinerary will call for an early breakfast and a nap at around 9:30. Fitzgerald almost could not believe he agreed to it. "Unbelievable," he said. "This is what I get paid to do. Seriously. Create nap time. It's pathetic." A snooze-in at the team hotel six hours before kickoff? Quarterback Kain Colter loves the idea. "We'll wake up, have our pregame meal, do our mental things and then have a mandatory nap," he said. "Those hotel beds are really comfortable and the pillows are soft. (Then) we'll come down refreshed and ready to kick some butt."
So there you have it. If Northwestern comes through with a clutch win this weekend, don’t credit the team’s preparation or homefield advantage – credit nap time.
Only in the Big Ten.