No train ride for Northwestern
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern senior cornerback Justan Vaughn doesn't like riding Chicago's elevated train system, but even he was looking forward to traveling by railway to Saturday's game against Illinois at Wrigley Field.
But Vaughn and his teammates won't have that chance. The CTA and Northwestern lawyers weren't able to resolve liability issues in time, and the Wildcats announced Tuesday they will not be taking the "El" to Thursday's practice and Saturday's game in Chicago.
"We decided logistically to take the bus," Fitzgerald said after Tuesday's practice.
The Wildcats are treating Saturday as a road game. Northwestern will be staying at a hotel on Friday night and traveling by bus Saturday morning. Practices have been geared that way as well.
"We'll have crowd noise tomorrow," Fitzgerald said. "We had crowd noise today during kicking. We'll have crowd noise tomorrow during team.
"We're operating from a preparation standpoint like the environment might be a road game, because of the unknown, playing at a neutral standpoint. I know there will be a ton of our fans, but there will be a lot of fans who don't go to a lot of games. They might be cheering when our offense is out there accidentally."
Northwestern is anticipating a sellout crowd of around 40,000 fans. Northwestern originally was given 30,000 tickets for the game, and the rest was split up between Illinois and the Chicago Cubs.
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"We've been real strict about making sure that it's as much purple as we can, but the Illinois' people are creative, and there's a deep alumni base here," Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said at Wrigley Field on Monday. "I know they bought all the rooftops across the street. There will be plenty representatives of the Illini nation here."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.